- BBC World News
Less than two weeks before the second round of elections in Peru, a tragic event shook public opinion in that country.
The Joint Command of the Armed Forces reported this Monday the massacre of 14 people, including two children, in a town in the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro Valley (Vraem), a region in the center of the country that is estimated to cultivate more than half of the coca from Peru.
The attack occurred on Sunday night when the victims were in a bar.
The authorities attributed it to remnants of the Shining Path, the Maoist group that unleashed an armed struggle against the Peruvian state between 1980 and 1992, and which may have left around 69,000 dead.
After knowing the news, critical voices emerged asking for solidarity with the families of the deceased and that the attack not be used politically for the ballot, scheduled for Sunday, June 6.
In this second round the rightist will compete Keiko Fujimori and the leftist Pedro Castillo, which until last week had an advantage in the polls.
The latter’s detractors have tried to link him and members of his party, Peru Libre, with the Shining Path and the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights (Movadef), which among other things, calls for the release of imprisoned senderistas.
While his opponent is the daughter of the former president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), imprisoned for human rights violations, but to whom his followers attribute the end of the conflict with the Shining Path and the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA).
According to the authorities, at the scene of the attack this Sunday they found pamphlets that urged Peruvians to abstain from participating in the second round of the elections and described as a “traitor” whoever voted for Fujimori.
How can this crime affect the polarized campaign in Peru?
According to the text of the pamphlets published by local media, the objective of the attackers was “to cleanse Vraem and Peru of caves of bad living, parasites and corrupt people”, and to call for a boycott against the presidential elections.
“Peruvian people: Boycott bourgeois elections, because it is not your way: Do not go to vote. Vote blank. Vote null or void!”, Read the pamphlets.
“Whoever votes in favor of Keiko Fujimori is a traitor, he is a murderer of VRAEM, he is a murderer of Peru!”
References to the electoral campaign led to attacks between the two sides vying for the presidency about their positions in the face of the killing of people.
“Is it the left that needs SL to win the elections or is it the right that needs it? In the end the opponents need each other […]”Vladimir Cerrón, founder of Peru Libre, Castillo’s party, tweeted. He added that his group” condemns all acts of terrorism. “
Meanwhile, Fernando Rospigliosi, a member of Fujimori’s technical team, tweeted that “Castillo’s allies and defenders blame [del ataque] to drug trafficking or anyone to hide the truth. Why will it be? Why are they defending the Shining Path? “
Who benefits or harms
For Orazio Potestà, a Peruvian expert on narco-terrorism issues, this attack “completely disrupts the campaign.”
In the area where the attack occurred, Potestà believes that “there will be an intimidation of the population” and that “there will probably be absenteeism” on the day of the vote.
In the rest of the country or in Lima, the analyst believes that the attack will have an effect at the level of political debates.
“In the field of debate, one of the two candidates must appropriate the antiterrorist issue. There could be a bias towards the candidate who offers concrete and proven solutions against terrorism“Power says to BBC World.
“At this point Keiko Fujimori has an advantage because she has appropriated the antiterrorist discourse and has a proposal that has been put to the test in the 90s. [en el gobierno de su padre] And it has shown some effectiveness. Castillo no, “he adds.
The analyst believes “that Castillo would have to travel to the area and show some kind of empathy or make some kind of strong statement to avoid a heavy load, because right now his candidacy is accused of being close to terrorism, communism and Fujimori’s candidacy more well is on the side of the solution. “
In a message posted on his Twitter account, Castillo expressed his rejection of the attack and his solidarity with the families of the victims.
“I strongly condemn this terrorist attack and I urge the courts to apply the full weight of the law,” he said.
For his part, his rival, Fujimori, told local media that “what terrorism is looking for is to stop this electoral process. Let’s not allow it.”
This is not the first time that an attack attributed to the Shining Path has occurred near a presidential election in Peru.
In 2016, within hours of the first round of the elections, an attack left 10 people dead in Santo Domingo de Acobamba, in Vraem.
On June 4, 2011, a day before the second round of elections, which faced former nationalist president Ollanta Humala with Keiko Fujimori, an ambush attributed to the Shining Path left five soldiers dead in the jungle area of Cusco.
Given the recurrence of these attacks, Potestà acknowledges that some people could “open a window of suspicion” to this latest attack and wonder “Where did it come from, who did it, what interests are there”, or “if it is an orchestrated theme, seeking to favor a candidate.”
“It lends itself to suspicion. That can also happen, but to a lesser extent”, says Potestà.
The expert adds that the attack does not follow the current “line” of Abimael Guzmán, founder of Shining Path, who resigned from the “armed struggle” after being captured in 1992.
Since then, most of Sendero’s leaders have been imprisoned, like their leader. The armed groups that remain in the Vraem claim to be part of the organization, despite the fact that Guzmán no longer recognizes them as members.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.