Admitting defeat, one of the two remaining leaders of the Shining Path guerrilla group in Peru has said his troops will cease attacks and is now seeking a negotiation for peace that will end its war with the government.
The Shining Path, a Maoist militant group that wreaked havoc in Peru in the 1980s, spread terror in the country through a bombing campaign that targeted buildings and infrastructure such as electricity towers, CNN reported. An estimated 70,000 people died in the conflict.
The founder and leader of Shining Path, Abimael Guzman, was arrested in 1992. He is serving a life sentence.
Known as Comrade Artemio, Jose Flores Hala told journalists Friday in his jungle hideout that he isn't going to deny that the government won.
We don't have the smallest intention to brandish the weapons of war, of armed conflict, he said.
Sincerely, we want a political solution; we want this to end, but through the methods of a negotiation, he told reporters for the Legal Defense Institute, or IDL, the initials for its name in Spanish.
The group, which launched its armed struggle in 1980 in an attempt to remove what they deemed was a bourgeois democracy in Peru, vowed to put in its stead a Maoist-inspired communist government. But since as early as 2003, the Shining Path have attempted negotiations with several Peruvian administrations, only to be met with one response: unconditional surrender, laying down of arms, and coordinates for stockpiles.
Something, Flores says, is impossible.
By principle, I cannot accept that, he said. Instead, the group wants the release of prisoners in exchange for the laying down of weapons.
No steps have been taken by President Ollanta Humala.
The group's intentions, Flores said, are for a lasting peace.
By principle we are Marxist. We believe that the only way to change a capitalist system is with a socialist system. But that is not possible at the moment. And if it's not possible, what corresponds in this moment is to end the armed conflict, he said.