Peruvian military operations in the VRAE region

Peru is to construct a controversial new airfield and military base for anti-narcotics operations in the drug trade heartland, the VRAE, in what the authorities say is a response to the rising influence of the Shining Path guerrillas.

The new 476-hectare base will be located in the Pichari district in La Convencion province on the eastern edge of the Apurimac and Ene River Valley, known by its initials in Spanish as the VRAE. 

According to a Ministry of Defense report cited in La Republica, the objective of the proposed base is "the improvement of logistical operations ... in the face of the increase in terrorist activity in the CE-VRAE (VRAE Special Command)."

The VRAE is the site of an estimated third of Peru's drug crops and home to the biggest remaining faction of Maoist guerrilla group the Shining Path, which is deeply involved in the drug trade and uses the region to mount attacks against security forces. The guerrilla group is reported to be increasingly shifting its operations east, further into La Convencion.

Plans for the base were developed with the support of US military aid advisers, the report said, although no mention was made of whether the United States is offering financial support.

The project is facing fierce opposition from the local authorities, non-governmental organizations and the 100 families whose land will be expropriated.

"In these lands we grow cacao and other legal products," said local Councilor Nery Cuadros. "There is no coca, we reject terrorism and drug trafficking."

Locals claim they have been misled about the plans, saying the idea was sold to them in 2011 as a civilian airbase, which would help them export produce and increase tourism.

InSight Crime Analysis

The difficulties in operating in the remote mountains and jungles of the VRAE have contributed to rising coca cultivation and the resurgence of the Shining Path -- although the group remains a shadow of its former self -- and a new US-backed military base would certainly help tackle these logistical constraints.

However, as InSight Crime has noted previously, isolation, under-development and poverty in the VRAE have left many residents with little option but to turn to coca cultivation, feeding support for the guerrillas, who capitalize on residents' sense of being abandoned by the state.

Operating within this environment, the Peruvian authorities need to address local concerns, otherwise they leave open the possibility that gains from the improved security infrastructure may be undermined by the further alienation of the local population.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
Prev Next

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy.

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power.