US embassy cable - 97LIMA4928 (original version)

SENDERO LUMINOSO LEADER "FELICIANO" CORNERED -- YET AGAIN (original version)

Identifier: 97LIMA4928
Wikileaks: View 97LIMA4928 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Lima
Created: 1997-06-06 17:21:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PTER PMIL PE
Redacted: This cable was redacted by Wikileaks. [Show redacted version] [Compare redacted and unredacted version]
R 061721Z JUN 97
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 7890
INFO AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 
AMEMBASSY CARACAS 
AMEMBASSY QUITO 
AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 
USCINCSO QUARRY HEIGHTS PM
AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 
C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 004928 
 
 
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:6/5/07 
TAGS: PTER, PMIL, PE 
SUBJECT: SENDERO LUMINOSO LEADER "FELICIANO" CORNERED -- YET AGAIN 
 
1.  (U)  CLASSIFIED BY JAMES F. MACK, DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION, 
AMERICAN EMBASSY, LIMA.  REASON 1.5 (B,D). 
 
2.  (C)  SUMMARY:  A PERUVIAN MILITARY OFFICER IN THE AYACUCHO 
REGION RECENTLY TOLD US THAT HIS UNIT BELIEVES OSCAR RAMIREZ DURAN 
(A.K.A. "FELICIANO"), THE MOST IMPORTANT SENDERO LUMINOSO (SHINING 
PATH - SL) LEADER OUTSIDE OF JAIL, IS STILL CORNERED WITH THIRTY TO 
FIFTY CADRES IN A BROKEN, WOODED REGION NEAR THE INTERSECTION OF 
THE MONTARO AND APURIMAC RIVERS.  THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME THAT 
PERUVIAN OFFICIALS HAVE EXPRESSED THEIR BELIEF THAT THE SL LEADER 
WAS TRAPPED  -- SOMEHOW IN THE PAST HE HAS ALWAYS MANAGED TO 
ESCAPE.  END SUMMARY. 
 
3.  (C)  COLONEL DARWIN RENGIFO RIOS, SECOND IN COMMAND AT THE 
AYACUCHO MILITARY BASE, TOLD US JUNE 4 THAT THE PERUVIAN MILITARY 
HAD SUCCEEDED IN CORNERING SENDERO LUMINOSO (SL) LEADER "FELICIANO" 
WITH THIRTY TO FIFTY SHINING PATH CADRES IN THE TRIANGULAR REGION 
SOUTHWEST OF THE INTERSECTION OF THE APURIMAC AND MONTARO RIVERS. 
THE ROUGHLY 900 SQUARE KILOMETER AREA IS HEAVILY WOODED, LIGHLY 
POPULATED AND CHARACTERIZED BY EXTREMELY BROKEN TERRAIN.  THERE IS 
NO COCA CULTIVATION IN THE REGION; AS A RESULT, THE ARMY BELIEVES 
"FELICIANO'S" GROUP IS UNABLE TO LIVE OFF WAR TAXES.  RENGIFO 
STATED THAT THE PERUVIAN MILITARY HAD LAUNCHED A NUMBER OF 
OPERATIONS INTO THE AREA IN RECENT MONTHS BUT HAD NOT SUCCEEDED IN 
CAPTURING THE SL LEADER.  MILITARY FORCES RAIDED "FELICIANO'S" CAMP 
SHORTLY AFTER IT WAS VACATED ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS AND ONCE EVEN 
CAPTURED THE SL LEADER'S BED.  THE MILITARY ALSO DESTROYED OVER TEN 
SEPARATE FARMING SITES, WHERE SHINING PATH HAD SOWN YUCA AND OTHER 
CROPS AS FOODSTUFFS. 
 
4.  (C)  THE COLONEL ASSERTED THAT AFTER YEARS OF SL ATROCITIES, 
VILLAGERS THROUGHOUT THE REGION ARE FIRMLY ON THE GOVERNMENT'S 
SIDE AGAINST THE TERRORIST GROUP.  HE OBSERVED THAT THERE ARE NOW 
OVER 120,000 RONDEROS (VILLAGE CIVIL DEFENSE MEMBERS) WITH OVER 
6,000 WEAPONS IN THE AYACUCHO MILITARY DISTRICT.  IF "FELICIANO" 
AND THE SENDERO CADRES ATTEMPT TO FLEE THEIR CURRENT HIDEOUT, THEY 
WILL BE QUICKLY SPOTTED IN THE TREELESS TERRAIN WHICH SURROUNDS THE 
AREA, RENGIFO CLAIMED.  HE ALSO SAID "FELICIANO" CANNOT HIDE OUT IN 
ANY OF THE VILLAGES IN THE REGION BECAUSE THE RONDEROS WOULD 
QUICKLY REPORT HIS PRESENCE.  THE MILITARY IS REPOPULATING VILLAGES 
WHICH HAD BEEN ABANDONED EARLIER DURING THE HEIGHT OF TERRORIST 
VIOLENCE IN ORDER TO FURTHER REDUCE "FELICIANO'S" FREEDOM OF 
ACTION.  IN MID-JUNE, THERE ARE PLANS TO REPOPULATE TIRCOS, A 
VILLAGE DUE WEST OF SAN FRANCISCO IN HUANTA PROVINCE, RENGIFO SAID. 
 
5.  (C)  "FELICIANO" AND HIS GROUP FACE A DISMAL FUTURE, WITH FOOD 
RUNNING OUT AND NOWHERE TO OBTAIN SUPPLIES, ACCORDING TO RENGIFO. 
HE EXPRESSED HIS BELIEF THAT THE GROUP WILL EITHER (1) MAKE A BREAK 
FOR IT AND EXPOSE ITSELF TO MILITARY ACTION, (2) BREAK UP AND 
DISPERSE, OR (3) SUFFER A VIOLENT INTERNAL CONFRONTATION IN WHICH 
SOME SL MEMBERS ARE KILLED.  "I CAN'T SAY THAT WE WILL CAPTURE 
'FELICIANO' TOMORROW, IN THE NEXT WEEK OR EVEN IN THE NEXT YEAR," 
HE SAID, "BUT TIME IS RUNNING OUT FOR SENDERO LUMINOSO HERE." 
 
6.  (C)  COMMENT:  PERUVIAN MILITARY OFFICIALS HAVE EXPRESSED THEIR 
BELIEF THAT SL LEADER "FELICIANO" HAS BEEN CORNERED MANY TIMES IN 
RECENT YEARS.  WE CANNOT CONFIRM, HOWEVER, THAT "FELICIANO" IS IN 
FACT IN THE TRIANGULAR REGION DESCRIBED BY REGIFO; LOCAL MEDIA 
REPORTS HAVE PLACED HIM IN CUSCO, LIMA, THE UPPER HUALLAGA VALLEY 
AND OTHER LOCATIONS IN RECENT MONTHS.  DESPITE FREQUENT REPORTS OF 
HIS IMMINENT ARREST, "FELICIANO" HAS SO FAR ESCAPED THE ARMY'S NET. 
 
JETT 

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