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Cablegate: A New Interview with Sl Leader Comrade "Artemio"

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LIMA 003784


E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/29/2015

REF: A. LIMA 1794
B. LIMA 1471
C. 04 LIMA 292

Classified By: D/Polcouns Art Muirhead for Reason 1.4 (B, D)

1. (C) SUMMARY. A Peruvian newspaper and a TV news program
made public an interview with Sendero Luminoso (SL) Commander
"Artemio," head of the largest SL faction still involved in
combat operations. Leading daily La Republica published a
portion of the interview on 8/28. Later that evening, Cuarto
Poder broadcast video footage. The interview was the first
given by Artemio since he spoke twice in early 2004 to the
British and Peruvian media (Ref C). Ministry of Interior
sources believe the person interviewed was in fact Artemio,
the alias used by Peruvian Citizen Jose FLORES Leon; however,
Defense Ministry sources believe the interview may be a hoax.
While the interview did not indicate a change in SL beliefs
and strategy, it did provide information on the group,s
internal factions and on its involvement with cocaleros. END

2. (U) The interview took place in a jungle region of Huanuco
province, fifty minutes hike away from Aucayacu in the Upper
Huallaga Valley, the area where Artemio,s group operates.
Roughly ten other masked SL members accompanied him, carrying
weapons and clad in fatigues and black t-shirts emblazoned
with an SL slogan and hammer and sickle. Artemio began the
interview by addressing international, national and regional
political issues. His responses to many topics were
predictable: the U.S./Andean Free Trade Agreement is
imperialist and imposes a neoliberal model; President
Alejandro Toledo is pro-imperialist; Peru,s economic growth
has only benefited big business and not the people; the
central government is not decentralizing as it claims. He
periodically referenced and read off typical SL statements of
party dogma that he held in his hand.

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3. (U) The SL leader stated that his group,s armed actions
consist of four types: agitation and propaganda, guerrilla
combat, sabotage, and selective annihilation. These tactics
are consistent with the recent attacks for which SL has
claimed responsibility.

4. (U) Artemio also demanded the end of alternative
development programs in their current form, arguing that
USAID, the GOP's anti-drug agency DEVIDA and NGOs benefit
directly from international investment while the population
only receives crumbs. In their place, he called for larger
infrastructure projects, e.g., electricity and highways. He
also dismissed any possibility of solidarity with the people
on the part of Huanuco Regional President Luzmila Templo,
despite the fact that she has backed a regional ordinance
legalizing coca production. Her interests, he asserted, are
in winning votes for a future congressional candidacy.

5. (U) While the SL leader denied a direct link between his
armed movement and cocaleros, he professed support for the
latter, stating that his group defended cocalero interests,
but not narcotrafficking. Evidence of this was his claim of
responsibility for the ambush of NAS helicopters in April
2005 (Ref A). Artemio stated that his group has shown
solidarity for all forms of popular organization, be they
campesino or cocalero. He further stated that the appearance
of new popular groups since 2000 has been a positive sign,
but that he was disappointed that the groups remain divided
and that the coca farmers have taken a sectarian position
rather than aligning themselves with the agricultural sector.
He called for the integration of cocalero, campesino and
other popular movements. He also expressed "solidarity"
against the government "persecution" of SUTEP, Peru,s
teacher,s union.

6. (U) This call for unity was also made for SL itself.
Artemio recognized that factions exist, even within his own
Upper Huallaga region, though he attempted to gloss over
them. He claimed to work with the groups led by Clay and Lee
but not with Omar and "Proseguir" (the faction promoting
continuation of the armed struggle). He looked for SL to
regroup during its "Second Congress," but did not give
further details. Regardless, he asserted that the common
denominator for all factions remained their allegiance to
jailed leader Abimael Guzman.

7. (C) COMMENT: Based on analysis of the images and
declarations, the Ministry of Interior believes the interview
was in fact with Artemio, who they have identified as
Peruvian Citizen Jose FLORES Leon. However, the Commander of
the Army and the Army Director of Intelligence told the DATT
that judging from the unsophisticated responses and less than
perfect physical condition of "Artemio," they believed it was
possible the interview could be a hoax.

8. (C) COMMENT CONTINUED: Regarding the content of the
interview, although Artemio presents an ambivalent
relationship with the cocaleros, the ties between the groups
appear certain, as the cocaleros are an important piece of
the SL,s shifting strategy of greater integration with the
local population (Ref B). Artemio has also attempted to align
his group with other popular social movements. This outreach
runs contrary to SL,s traditional rigid, non-negotiable
sectarianism. While Artemio,s group remains entrenched in
the Upper Huallaga, political alignment may have emerged as a
new option for a group formerly committed only to armed
struggle. END COMMENT.

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