On Sunday May 23, 2021, the murder of 16 people including 2 children was reported in a bar in the town of San Miguel del Ene, capital of the district of Vizcatán del Ene, located on the border between Junín and Ayacucho, in the area of the  Apurimac Valley, and the Ene and Mantaro rivers (Vraem). The area is marked by the remnants of the Shining Path movement, entangled in drug trafficking, and an area of confrontations between the Armed Forces and narco-terrorist groups. Vizcatán del Ene has become a base of operations for the Quispe Palomino narco-terrorist group for many years because it is in a mountain range with clouds that make operations difficult, explained Rubén Vargas, a former Minister of the Interior.

The slaughter has all the characteristics of a Shining Path attack according to the General Commander of the National Police, Lieutenant General PNP César Cervantes. Peruvian authorities have dispatched armed forces and national police to the region to investigate the crime and protect the community. Condemned by the current interim President Francisco Sagasti, the entire country mourns the loss. The hightest authorities of the Peruvian Congress are demanding that those responsible should be captured and punished. 

The victims were 10 men, 4 women who worked in the bar, and 2 girls who were daughters of the workers. (I've also seen reports stating that 14 people were killed) They were murdered with rifles and some bodies were burned. Three people whose identities are not being released, survived the attack and will be protected for their safety.

Was the massacre politically motivated, or an assault of narco terrorists that got out of control? Pamphlets, warning local residents not to vote for the candidate Fujimori in the upcoming final round of the presidential election on June 6, were purportedly found in the area. The leaflets were marked by MPCP (Militarized Communist Party of Peru) and claimed they were "cleaning out" the prostitution. With 2 candidates representing opposite sides of the political specturm, it's no secret that many citizens of Peru will be holding their noses as they cast their ballots for the next president of Peru. Socialist candidate Pedro Castillo has been the leader in recent polls, trailed by neoliberal Keiko Fujimori who supports the interests of the far right, while trying to ignore the scandalous legacy of her father, Alberto Fujimori, who fled the country in 2000. 

What affect will this criminal act have on the emerging travel industry in Peru? The area where the incident occurred is isolated and has no sightseeing or infrastructure to accommodate travelers. But this kind of violence is not helping Peru at a time when reopening after covid is already hampered by extra arrival protocols for international visitors. While no one knows for sure, it's not likely that the murderers will make their way to occupied urban centers where police are plentiful. 

“The drug trafficking problem is extremely sensitive. I would say that Vizcatán del Ene, along with eight or nine other districts, concentrate 90% of the problem of coca and the problem of drug trafficking, "he also said about the social problems suffered by the population of the area.

Who knows exactly what precipitated this event at this time. Was it jungle justice against prostituion? Politics? Narco terrorism? Money dispute? I'll keep this post updated as new details are released.