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Peru Raids Reflect Frustration
Garcia Seeks Ways to End Insurgency

By Michael L. Smith

The Washington Post, February 15, 1987

The police raids on three universities in Lima yesterday, during which one person was killed and hundreds arrested, indicate the increasing frustration felt by the government of President Alan Garcia in its search for ways to stop subversive violence in the country.

Garcia has been huddling with his National Defense Council and Cabinet for the past two weeks to reformulate counterinsurgency programs and has been under pressure from the military to move more decisively against leftist guerrilla groups.

Interior Minister Abel Salinas showed reporters one automatic weapon, 18 handguns, homemade explosives, dynamite and stacks of propaganda in support of Maoist Shining Path guerrillas and other groups that had been removed from three dormitories at the three national universities.

Salinas said 4,000 police participated in the raids, arresting 793 persons. Few of those arrested had identification documents so it is not known yet how many are students. Two civilians and three policemen were wounded, and a student died of his wounds later. The police were accompanied by members of the attorney general's office to guard against abuses.

{At a later news conference, Salinas said that 90 of the detained suspects would be formally charged. He added that 264 persons had been freed and the remaining detainees still were being questioned, The Associated Press reported.}

The three universities, San Marcos, the National University of Engineering and a teachers' college, have long been centers of radical politics. Groups supporting armed violence to overthrow the government keep bulletin boards and wall newspapers regularly posted on San Marcos campus. These propaganda centers provided some of the scarce information about Shining Path's intentions since the group's leadership has rarely explained its actions publicly.

University autonomy has been a rallying cry for liberal politicians for 75 years in Latin America, and the Peruvian opposition has been quick to condemn the intervention. Sen. Cesar Delgado Barreto of the Christian Democratic Party, which is allied with the government, said, "I ask myself if what was found justified the intervention and its political repercussions."

Jorge Campos Rey, rector of San Marcos University, said the raids added "to the escalation of the violence in the country."

Following a June 1986 prison mutiny, in which more than 200 inmates belonging to Shining Path were killed by police and armed forces, the military tried to press Garcia to authorize raids on the universities. Garcia refused because of the political implications of such a move.

The government's frustration stems from a renewed wave of violence since mid-January. The most provocative incident was the assassination Jan. 30 of Cesar Lopez Silva, a top leader of Garcia's party, the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance.

Since Feb. 9 of last year, Lima has been under a state of emergency and a 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, intended to block terrorist actions. However, intelligence sources said that the number of terrorist incidents increased by 56 percent under the state of emergency, compared to 1985. Shining Path has also demonstrated that it is changing its urban tactics by carrying out daylight attacks against police-guarded embassies.

Earlier this week, Garcia called Congress back from its summer recess to approve legislation dealing with subversion.

High on the agenda is a bill that would set up special courts to deal with terrorism cases, like those used in Italy against the Red Brigades and the Mafia. The tribunals would have enhanced investigative powers and work more closely with police to get convictions.

Another bill would increase punishment for terrorism to up to 25 years' imprisonment.

A third bill provides for the unification of the ministries of war, navy and aviation into a single Defense Ministry, in an attempt to cut out duplication, coordinate defense policy and reduce interservice rivalry.

In a related move this month, the Interior Ministry decided to unify its four intelligence services under a single command. The reform did not touch the four intelligence services under control of the armed forces.

© 1996 Washington Post. All rights reserved