Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Civil-Military Relations and a Democratic Peru

Civil-Military Relations and a Democratic Peru

Peru’s President Alberto Fujimori has achieved remarkable success in the battle against the termrist guerrilla organization Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso), and General Alberto Arciniega Huby was once part of that success story. In fact, he had the best counterinsurgency record of any Peruvian general. He also presided over the October 1991 trial of Shining Path leader Abimael Guzman Reynoso (“President Gonzalo”).

Nor is that all. In Peru, General Arciniega is well known for arguing that, when a region is beset by both Sendero subversion and coca cultivation, the fight against Shining Path should be the higher priority. That means treating coca-growing farmers as potential allies in the battle against subversion, rather than as criminals. In 1989, when Arciniega was political-military chief of the Upper Huallaga, he put this policy into effect, much to the displeasure of the United States.

Following President Fujimoti’s “self-coup” of April 1992, General Arciniega protested the treatment of arrested military officers, who were put into prrson along with common criminals. As a result, he was forced out of the army and deprived of personal bodyguards. In light of his background, safety demanded that he go into exile, and he is now residing in Buenos Aires.

In the following essay, General Arciniega argues that President Fujimori has undermined democracy by making improper use of the military. He then presents an interesting statement of the principles he believes should guide civil-military relations in a democratic Peru, and of the means by which a Peruvian government might win back the loyalty of peasants in the drug-growing regions. – The Editors

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