Areas That Could Break Out Into War
August 18, 2007: The Sendero Luminoso (Shining
Path) began as a Maoist guerrilla group committed to Marxist revolution. It is
now little more than a "drug army" working for cocaine cartels. In early August
Peru's security services began a sweep northeastern Peru, seeking Shining Path
hideouts. At least 200 special operations troops were involved in the sweep.
Government security forces also conducted raids in the capital, Lima. As a
result, 21 members of the "new" Shining Path were arrested in the various
operations. Increased success against
drug gangs in neighboring Colombia have forced drug operations to move into
Peru. The Shining Path, like the leftist rebels in Colombia, has become
corrupted by the drug money. But the leftist rebels on both sides of the border
still give lip service, and sometimes more, to their political principles. Some
of the drug lords have toyed with the idea of financing their leftist rebel
allies into taking over the country. The drug gangs already buy and bribe all
the politicians they can. The problem with Shining Path is that they are,
technically, a very radical leftist group. If the Shining Path gained control
of the country, they might come after the drug gangs as a corrupting influence.
You've got to be careful what you wish for, as you might get it.
A huge earthquake (with a magnitude estimated at
8.0), struck Peru on the night August 15-16. Officials estimate around 400 were
killed and at least a thousand injured. The quake hit along Peru's southeastern
coast. Responding to disasters like almost always requires international
support and military equipment is designed to operate in "overwhelmed"
circumstances. The US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) has begun putting together a
disaster response operation. It will ultimately include humanitarian aid,
medical teams, and transport aircraft. The US Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort
is already in the area it is very likely it will be sent to southern Peru. The
Comfort had been making a port visit to Trujillo, Peru (northern Peru) as part
of a US-led medical mission. It was originally built as a tanker in 1976. The
US Navy rebuilt the ship and put it into service in 1987. Lower casualty rates in
Iraq and Afghanistan have made the ships available for humanitarian missions,
which also make people helped in this way, more pro-American.