The group lacks the political organisation of the original Shining Path and has developed a paternalistic relationship with many of the same local farmers who fought to expel them in the 80s and 90s.
The son of guerrilla parents, Mr Quispe Palomino, abhors Mr Guzmán as a traitor to the Maoist cause and yet claims he is pro-business. “It is obvious that they earn a fixed amount of money from every group of [drug mules],” says Mr Gorriti of the group’s protection racket.
“At the same time they are not concentrated solely in coca and cocaine – they also have an interest in logging, and it seems that they are also pretty much interested in mining and the energy/gas business.”
Mr Guzmán has reportedly dismissed the group as “mercenaries” who “tossed Marxism-Leninism-Maoism into the trash”.
Further north, in the upper Huallaga Valley, the only member of Shining Path’s central committee to remain under arms has been eluding security forces in a cat-and-mouse game that borders on the farcical.
“Comrade Artemio” is more interested in seeking a peace deal than fomenting wider revolution, says Mr Gorriti. He takes a cut of economic activity in the region, including coca, and although he is rumoured to own some coca fields, he does not appear to be a major trafficker.
Neither group poses a threat to the stability of the Peruvian state, Latin America’s sixth-biggest economy, which is emerging from its deepest contraction in eight years with an International Monetary Fund growth forecast of 6.5 per cent for 2010.
A new political party of former Shining Path members is unlikely to attract much support in next year’s elections from an electorate still traumatised by the horrors of war that followed Guzman’s call for “rivers of blood”.
But Mr Gorriti says the numbers of followers who abandoned armed insurgency but still support political action are “not all that negligible”.
He says: “I wouldn’t be so sure that the Shining Path is completely dead. I saw the May 1 parade, with the number of people spouting slogans very much like those of the Shining Path.”