Ronda Campesina , is a name given to autonomous peasant patrols in rural Peru. The rondas were especially active during the early 1980s in northern Peru and during the insurgency by the Maoist group Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and by the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.
The rondas were originally formed as a protection force against theft, especially cattle rustling. Later, they evolved into a full-blown private justice system, complete with courts. They often provoked the ire of the Peruvian state.
When Shining Path leader Abimael Guzman launched his insurgency against the government in 1980, the Peruvian armed forces by and large ignored the threat at the very outset. Because the very core of the movement was land redistribution, the insurgency was confined to rural areas in the Andean regions inhabited by indigenous and Amerindian groups, and largely off the radar of the government. Peasants who did not support the revolutionary movement, therefore, created 'rondas campesinas'
It was only in 1982 that the Peruvian government began to take action in earnest. Military rule was established in 9 provinces after a state of emergency was declared in December of that year, and the Rondas Campesinas were employed by the military. Both the military and their auxiliaries the Rondas Campesinas committed human rights atrocities against their enemies. The Maoists also used attacks against the civilian population.
Starn, Orin. (1999). Nightwatch: The Politics of Protest in the Andes. Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-2321-4.
La Via Campesina
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