Date of Award


Degree Name

Political Science


College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Clair W. Matz

Second Advisor

Leonard J. Deutsch


The persistence of Sendero Luminoso’s insurgency since 1980 has produced a number of outstanding works on the history and politics of the movement. Nevertheless, the role of unrealized expectations and the ideological attraction of SL’s political violence, while often insinuated, has received less than thorough attention. Although several works examine Sendero’s ideology, none have yet considered the correlation between incongruent expectations and the ideological appeal of armed struggle. A possible reason for this neglect could be the perceived simplicity and remoteness of Sendero’s Gonzalo Thought ideology. Yet, Senderismo continues to inspire a small group of extremely violent guerrillas.

This paper argues that Sendero Luminoso’s ideological promotion of political violence is attractive to some disenfranchised individuals whose aspirators are unsatisfied by their achievements. However, it does not assert that achievement discrepancy alone has automatically translated into political violence. The presence of a relatively well organized revolutionary organization capable of channeling frustration into action has been a decisive ingredient in Peru’s insurgency. The combination of these two elements has contributed significantly to the growth of armed subversion in Peru.

This work is novel because it goes beyond the prototypical analysis of political, economic and statistical factors. Sendero’s ideology will be theoretically and empirically evaluated through the movement’s proclamations, propaganda, and behavior. The relation between the Andean legacy of violence and Peru’s profound lack of equity will be linked to the ideological appeal of Sendero’s ultra-egalitarian communist ideology. The essay will focus on the years 1990 to 1995; however, it also examines events outside this time for greater understanding of the movement.


Sendero Luminoso (Guerilla Group).

Peru – Politics and government – 1980-.