US embassy cable - 92LIMA12419 (original version)

BETWEEN SENDERO AND THE GOP: LIFE ON LIMA'S OUTER FRINGE (original version)

Identifier: 92LIMA12419
Wikileaks: View 92LIMA12419 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Lima
Created: 1992-09-17 21:25:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PTER PHUM PE
Redacted: This cable was redacted by Wikileaks. [Show redacted version] [Compare redacted and unredacted version]
R 172125Z SEP 92
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 1854
INFO AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
AMEMBASSY QUITO
AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO
DIA WASHDC
USCINCSO QUARRY HEIGHTS PM
AMCONSUL HERMOSILLO
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 LIMA 12419 
 
 
SOUTHCOM FOR POLAD 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL: OADR 
TAGS:       PGOV, PTER, PHUM, PE 
SUBJECT:    BETWEEN SENDERO AND THE GOP: 
            LIFE ON LIMA'S OUTER FRINGE 
 
1. CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2. SUMMARY:  VILLA EL SALVADOR, A SHANTY TOWN 
SUBURB OF LIMA, IS SYMBOLIC OF THE BATTLE 
BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND THE SENDERO LUMINOSO 
AND THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE LOYALTIES OF A 
POVERTY-STRIKEN POPULATION.  BECAUSE OF ITS 
LIMITED PRESENCE AND RESOURCES, THE GOVERNMENT 
HAS DIFFICULTY RESPONDING TO THE SENDERO'S 
SELECTIVE CAMPAIGN OF TERRORISM OR THE 
POPULATION'S EXPECTATIONS.    END SUMMARY. 
 
SHINING EXAMPLE ON THE HILL: VILLA EL SALVADOR 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
3.  POLITICAL OFFICERS RECENTLY REVISITED VILLA 
EL SALVADOR, LIMA'S MOST SYMBOLICALLY IMPORTANT 
"PUEBLO JOVEN" (PJ - LITERALLY YOUNG TOWN).  IT 
IS A FAVORITE STOP ON THE POVERTY TOURISM ROUTE 
IN PERU.  ONE OF THE LARGEST AND OLDEST 
"SPONTANEOUS" SETTLEMENTS THAT RING METROPOLITAN 
LIMA, "VILLA" IS WIDELY CONSIDERED THE 
PROTOTYPICAL SUCCESS STORY OF WHAT A SQUATTER 
INVASION CAN BECOME THROUGH COMMUNITY 
ORGANIZATION AND HARD WORK.  VILLA LIES IN 
LIMA'S SOUTHERN CONE AND IS HOME TO ABOUT THREE 
HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND PERSONS.  FOUNDED 
TWENTY-ONE YEARS AGO, VILLA HAS GENERALLY MADE 
THE TRANSITION FROM A SQUATTERS SHANTY TOWN TO A 
POOR WORKING CLASS "BEDROOM COMMUNITY" WITH AN 
AIR OF SETTLED PERMANENCE:  MANY HOMES AND 
BUSINESSES ARE MADE OF BRICK OR CEMENT BLOCK; 
ACCORDING TO ONE ESTIMATE 90 PERCENT OF THE 
TOWN'S HOMES HAVE TELEVISION; THE MAIN STREET 
AND MANY SIDE STREETS ARE PAVED. 
 
4.  WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THE DAILY STRUGGLE FOR 
EXISTENCE LIVED BY MOST INHABITANTS OF LIMA'S 
SHANTY TOWNS, RESIDENTS OF VILLA EL SALVADOR ARE 
GENERALLY CONSIDERED TO BE WELL OFF.  THE 
COMMUNITY IS ORGANIZED BY SECTIONS, AND ELECTED 
DELEGATES TO THE UMBRELLA VILLA EL SALVADOR 
SELF-GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION ("CUAVES") HAVE 
FOUGHT HARD, AND WITH SOME SUCCESS, TO OBTAIN 
ELECTRICITY, WATER, SEWAGE AND GARBAGE 
COLLECTION FOR MANY PARTS OF VILLA.  VILLA'S 
HARD WORK AND SOLID ORGANIZATION (AND 
CONSIDERABLE INTERNATIONAL LARGESSE) EARNED IT 
AN OFFICIAL COMMUNITY CHARTER AND INTERNATIONAL 
RECOGNITION IN THE FORM OF A "PRINCE OF 
ASTURIAS" AWARD FROM SPAIN'S CROWN PRINCE 
SEVERAL YEARS AGO. 
 
5.  HOWEVER, LIFE IN VILLA IS BY NO MEANS EASY. 
VILLA RESIDENTS MUST PAY A MINIMUM OF 0.50 SOLES 
(1.36 SOLES CURRENTLY EQUALS 1 U.S. DOLLAR) FOR 
THE CHEAPEST BUS TRANSPORTATION TO LIMA. 
PRINCIPAL WAGE EARNERS, WHO AVERAGE PERHAPS 10 
SOLES A DAY IN EARNINGS, SPEND AT LEAST 10 
PERCENT OF THAT ON TRANSPORTATION.  THE RANKING 
POLICE SERGEANT ON DUTY AT VILLA'S ONLY POLICE 
STATION TOLD POLITICAL OFFICERS THAT ON HIS 
OFFICIAL SALARY OF 7 SOLES A DAY HE MUST PROVIDE 
SUPPORT FOR HIMSELF, HIS WIFE AND FOUR 
CHILDREN.  CLAIMING THAT HIS COLLEGE-AGE SON 
NEEDED THE EQUIVALENT OF 3 SOLES A DAY TO ATTEND 
THE UNIVERSITY, AND HIS PRINCIPAL LUNCHEON MEAL 
MIGHT COST TWO SOLES, HE SHRUGGED WHEN HE ASKED 
RHETORICALLY HOW HE WAS EXPECTED TO SUPPORT THE 
REST OF HIS FAMILY ON THE REMAINDER OF HIS LEGAL 
SALARY. 
 
6.  ACCORDING TO THE POLICE OFFICIAL, 
ABSENTEEISM IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF VILLA EL 
SALVADOR WAS RAMPANT BECAUSE FAMILIES IN THE 
TOWN WERE REQUIRED TO SEND THEIR CHILDREN OUT TO 
WORK AT AN EARLY AGE RATHER THAN TO SCHOOL.  IN 
ANY EVENT, THE POLICE SERGEANT DISMISSED MOST OF 
THE TEACHERS IN THE LOCAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS AS 
UNDER-QUALIFIED AND UNDER-MOTIVATED OUTSIDERS. 
MEDICAL FACILITIES ARE EQUALLY LIMITED. 
RESIDENTS DEPRECATED THE QUALITY OF MEDICAL CARE 
AVAILABLE TO THEM, NOTING THAT THE NEAREST 
HOSPITAL WAS NOT ONLY DISTANT, BUT NOT EVEN 
FULLY FUNCTIONING. 
 
7.  WITH UNCERTAINTY OVER THE VALUE OF THE 
NATIONAL CURRENCY, THE DOLLAR HAS BECOME THE 
PREFERRED MEDIUM OF EXCHANGE FOR TRANSACTIONS IN 
VILLA EL SALVADOR.  CITY OFFICIALS ESTIMATED 
THAT BUSINESSES OR HOUSES ON THE TOWN'S MAIN 
STREET SOLD FOR 4,000-5,000 DOLLARS, WITH PRIME 
CORNER LOCATIONS GOING FOR AS MUCH AS 
TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS.  ALL TRANSACTIONS 
ARE IN DOLLARS.  ABOUT 60 PERCENT OF PERU'S 
MONEY SUPPLY IS IN DOLLARS. 
 
PROBLEMS IN CAMELOT: SENDERO WITHIN THE GATES 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
8.  SENDERO LUMINOSO IS TRYING TO TAKE OVER THE 
TOWN'S GOVERNMENT.  THREE FACTORS SUPPOSEDLY 
MADE THE TOWN IMPENETRABLE TO THE SENDERO 
TERRORISTS:  THE LEADERSHIP'S CLOSE TIES TO THE 
POPULATION, THEIR LINKS WITH TRADITIONAL PARTIES 
OF THE LEFT, THE TOWN'S COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONAL 
STRUCTURE, AND ITS LEVEL OF ECONOMIC 
DEVELOPMENT.  FOREIGN AID TO VILLA EL SALVADOR, 
AS A "MODEL SLUM," WAS ALSO HELPFUL. 
 
9.  HOWEVER, VILLA'S REPUTATION AS A REDOUBT 
AGAINST SENDERO WAS LITERALLY EXPLODED WITH THE 
ASSASSINATION OF VICE-MAYOR MARIA ELENA MOYANO 
ON FEBRUARY 15.  NEXT, VILLA'S CITY HALL AND 
POLICE STATION WERE ALMOST COMPLETELY DESTROYED 
BY A SENDERO LUMINOSO CAR BOMB ON APRIL 8, 
1992.  ALSO DAMAGED IN THE ATTACK WERE NEARBY 
BUILDINGS INCLUDING A COMPLEX HOUSING A SCHOOL 
AND VILLA'S COMMUNITY RADIO AND TELEVISION 
STATION.  IN ADDITION, IN 1992 AN SL-ASSOCIATED 
SLATE ALSO LEGITIMATELY WON AN ELECTION IN THE 
MICRO-INDUSTRIAL PARK TO REPRESENT THE PARK IN 
VILLA'S GOVERNMENT.  PERUVIAN SENDERO EXPERT 
CARLOS TAPIA SUBSEQUENTLY DESCRIBED VILLA EL 
SALVADOR AS A SHINY APPLE THAT CUT OPEN REVEALED 
ITSELF TO HAVE BEEN INFESTED WITH SENDERO WORMS. 
 
POLICE RARELY VENTURE INTO THE CITY 
----------------------------------- 
 
10.  POLITICAL OFFICERS VISITED THE SHELL OF THE 
STILL FUNCTIONING POLICE STATION.  THERE ARE 
SOME 70 POLICEMEN WORKING IN THREE SHIFTS FOR 
THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY.  ACCORDING TO THE SENIOR 
POLICE SERGEANT INTERVIEWED, POLICE ONLY VENTURE 
OUT OF THE STATION IN PAIRS, HAVE NO VEHICLES 
(THEIR PATROL CARS WERE DESTROYED BY THE CAR 
BOMB), AND HAVE NO TELEPHONE.  THE POLICE 
OFFICIAL REPORTED THAT IT COULD TAKE UP TO AN 
HOUR FOR ANY REINFORCEMENTS TO ARRIVE ONCE THEY 
HAD BEEN REQUESTED USING THE ONE RADIO LINK 
AVAILABLE AT THE STATION.  SINCE AT LEAST A 
DOZEN POLICE GUARD THE MUNICIPAL CENTER AT ALL 
TIMES, AT BEST ONE OR TWO PATROLS ARE AVAILABLE 
FOR RESPONDING ON FOOT TO ASSISTANCE CALLS FROM 
THE COMMUNITY AT ANY GIVEN TIME.  ALTHOUGH THERE 
ARE SCHOOLS WITHIN SIGHT OF THE POLICE 
HEADQUARTERS, THE OFFICIAL INDICATED THAT NO 
COMMUNITY OUTREACH TO STUDENTS WAS ACTIVE OR 
CONTEMPLATED. 
 
11.  THE POLICE IN VILLA EL SALVADOR HAVE LITTLE 
EXPECTATION OF REINFORCEMENTS FROM LIMA IN THE 
EVENT OF TROUBLE, AND AT LEAST ONE POLICEMAN 
ADMITTED TO A MODUS VIVENDI WITH SENDERO.  THE 
OFFICER TOLD POLOFFS THAT HE LIVED IN VILLA WITH 
HIS FAMILY -- SENDERO KNEW HIM AND HE KNEW 
THEM.  HE EXPLAINED THAT WHILE HE OFTEN HAD 
FRANK DISCUSSIONS WITH "THEM" ABOUT CURRENT 
EVENTS, HE AVOIDED PHILOSOPHICAL DEBATES AND 
SAID BOTH SIDES "KNEW HOW TO MANAGE THINGS" 
BETWEEN THEM. 
 
VILLA'S LEADERS STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL 
------------------------------------- 
 
12.  MICHEL AZCUETA, FOR TWENTY YEARS THE MAYOR 
OF VILLA EL SALVADOR, ESTIMATED THAT IN THE AREA 
OF VILLA EL SALVADOR PROPER AND THE ADJOINING 
SHANTY TOWN, THE SENDERO LUMINOSO HAS BEEN ABLE 
TO ESTABLISH A MAJOR PRESENCE WITH PERHAPS 7-10 
ACTIVIST MEMBERS AND APPROXIMATELY SEVENTY 
ACTIVE SYMPATHIZERS IN THE COMMUNITY. 
 
FUJIMORI REMAINS POPULAR 
------------------------ 
 
13.  AZCUETA, WHO WAS ELECTED IN 1989 ON AN 
OPPOSITION SLATE AS A LIMA CITY COUNCILMAN, 
ACKNOWLEDGED PERUVIAN PRESIDENT FUJIMORI 
RETAINED HIS POPULARITY WITH THE RESIDENTS OF 
THIS OUTLYING COMMUNITY.  FUJIMORI'S PRINCIPAL 
APPEAL, IN AZCUETA'S VIEW, WAS HIS CAREFULLY 
CULTIVATED IMAGE AS A "NON-POLITICIAN."  THE 
INHABITANTS OF HIS TOWN, REMARKED AZCUETA, WERE 
FED UP WITH POLITICIANS AND TRADITIONAL POLITICS 
SINCE THE COUNTRY'S POLITICAL STRUCTURES AND 
PROCESSES HAD PRODUCED LITTLE IN THE WAY OF 
CONCRETE BENEFITS FOR THEM. 
 
UPCOMING CONSTITUTIONAL AND MAYORAL ELECTIONS 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
14.  AZCUETA DEMURRED WHEN ASKED IF HE PLANNED 
TO BE A CANDIDATE IN THE UPCOMING CONSTITUTIONAL 
ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS.  HE WAS UNCERTAIN WHO MIGHT 
RUN, NOTING THAT A LIKELY TACTIC OF THE SENDERO 
LUMINOSO GUERRILLAS WOULD BE TO ENGAGE IN 
INDIVIDUAL ACTS OF VIOLENCE AND ASSASSINATION 
AGAINST LOCAL CANDIDATES IN OUTLYING AREAS WHILE 
USING CAR BOMBINGS IN LIMA FOR THEIR PROPAGANDA 
VALUE.  ATTACKS AGAINST INDIVIDUALS, IN ADDITION 
TO DEMONSTRATING THE GOVERNMENT'S INABILITY TO 
PROVIDE LOCAL CANDIDATES AND OFFICIALS WITH 
PROTECTION WOULD HAVE SEVERAL EFFECTS, IN 
AZCUETA'S VIEW.  IN ADDITION TO ADVANCING THE 
SENDERO STRATEGY OF SHOWING THE GOVERNMENT 
IMPOTENCE, RANDOM ASSASSINATIONS WOULD LIKELY 
DETER THE BEST CANDIDATES FROM SEEKING OFFICE. 
THE RESULT, IN AZCUETA'S VIEW, WOULD BE 
SECOND-BEST OR MEDIOCRE CANDIDATES TAKING THEIR 
PLACE.  SUCH A GROUP OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS UNABLE 
TO RESOLVE PERU'S PROBLEMS, OR EXACERBATE THEM, 
WOULD FIT INTO THE SENDERO'S STRATEGY, CONCLUDED 
AZCUETA. 
 
15. COMMENT:  VILLA EL SALVADOR ILLUSTRATES THE 
GOVERNMENT'S DIFFICULTIES IN FIGHTING SENDERO 
LUMINOSO.  THE RELATIVE PROSPERITY THAT BRINGS 
TELEVISION ALSO BRINGS THE RISING EXPECTATIONS 
OF GOOD LIFE OF THE "TELENOVELAS" DEPICTED ON 
THE SOAP OPERAS AND DEMANDS FOR SERVICES THE 
GOVERNMENT CANNOT PROVIDE. 
 
16.  THE PERUVIAN GOVERNMENT HAS ONLY A LIMITED 
PRESENCE IN A TOWN WHICH IS PART OF THE 
CAPITAL'S METROPOLITAN AREA, PERHAPS 45 MINUTES 
FROM THE PRESIDENTIAL PALACE.  WHAT CONTACT THE 
AVERAGE RESIDENT OF VILLA EL SALVADOR HAS WITH 
THE GOVERNMENT IS LIKELY TO BE NEGATIVE, I.E., 
THE TAX COLLECTOR COLLECTING MONEY OR THE 
POLICEMAN DEMANDING A BRIBE.  SENDERO IS 
CAPITALIZING ON THE GOVERNMENT'S LIMITED 
PRESENCE BY PICKING AND CHOOSING TARGETS OF 
OPPORTUNITY TO FURTHER ISOLATE THE GOVERNMENT 
FROM THE PEOPLE.  AT THE SAME TIME, THE 
SELF-HELP AND LOCAL INITIATIVE OF THE RESIDENTS 
OF VILLA EL SALVADOR SHOW WHAT CAN BE DONE 
WITHOUT, OR DESPITE, THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT. 
SENDERO IN VILLA EL SALVADOR IS FIGHTING TWO 
ENEMIES: LOCAL LEADERS AND THE GOVERNMENT. 
SENDERO HAS MADE CONSIDERABLE HEADWAY IN RECENT 
YEARS. 
 
17.  EVEN THOUGH THE ARREST OF SENDERO LUMINOSO 
FOUNDER AND LEADER ABIMAEL GUZMAN ON SEPTEMBER 
12 MAY TEMPORARILY DISRUPT THE ORGANIZATION'S 
OPERATIONS, THE STRUCTURAL PROBLEMS--POVERTY, 
ECONOMIC STAGNATION, RACISM, UNRESPONSIVE 
GOVERNMENT--UPON WHICH IT HAS FED REMAIN.  AND 
EVEN IF VILLA EL SALVADOR TURNS THE CORNER, TE 
NEXT WAVE OF POTENTIAL SYMPATHIZERS, NOW SITTING 
ON THE SAND HILLS ABOVE THE TOWN IN CARDBOARD 
HOUSES, WILL ALREADY BE DEMANDING ITS SHARE OF 
THE ECONOMIC PIE. 
 
 
QUAINTON## 

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