By I995, the war had wound down. An insurgency that had pro-
foundly affected national politics and everyday life had diminished to more
sporadic and offstage struggles. Five or ten years earlier, Sendero's insur-
gency dramatized political reach: a capacity, backed by internal cohesion, to
destroy alternate paths, to engulf new locales and regions in struggles for
control, to create an aura of invincibility. Now, the insurgents wrestled to
regain the sense of direction and the recruitment capacity without which a
war campaign seemed futile. The April re-election of Alberto Fujimori as a
can-do president backed by a large majority symbolized the changed state of
The turning point was the capture of Abimael Guzman in a raid on a
Lima safe house on I2 September I992, but there was more to the capture
than met the eye. First, the taking of Guzman offered Fujimori and the
state a tremendous opportunity to puncture the mystique of effectiveness
that had accrued to an insurgency "scientifically" led by Guzman, the larger
than life intellectual whose ideas and direction required absolute loyalty.
Over time, the state capitalized on the opportunity with media events that
reduced Guzman to a fallible and soft human being, a supplicant who peti-
tioned the conquering president for peace. (See the photo in the chapter by
Oliart below.) Second, and equally important, the capture was a dramatic
episode within a larger process of intensified intelligence work, since I990,
to identify, seize, and dismantle systematically the leadership of Sendero.
As Nelson Manrique has observed, the intelligence work succeeded. Nine-
tenths of the high leadership was captured, along with Guzman, in I992,
in part because Sendero had overextended its politico-military capacities
by "fleeing forward."
The Sendero leadership had responded to the spread
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