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By Loretta Napoleoni

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To secure funds to support Adams’s strategy, the IRA relied more and more on illegal operations such as contraband, tax avoidance and fraud. The 270-mile border between the Republic of Ireland and Ulster offered ideal terrain for smuggling. IRA supporters in the Irish Republic took advantage of Common Market export subsidies for Irish agricultural products to the UK – of which Northern Ireland is a part – to raise money. Pigs were exported from the Republic to IRA supporters in Northern Ireland to collect the subsidy (equivalent to £8 per pig) and smuggled back to the Republic.

They also used terror tactics to drive a wedge between the local population and the French administration, publicly executing tribal chiefs and elders who opposed them. The successes of guerrilla warfare were soon apparent: communist influence and support in Indochina grew exponentially and the French government ultimately had to admit that conventional warfare offered an inadequate response. As early as 1949, the French developed a new strategy. They began training hill tribesmen and religious minorities as intelligence agents, saboteurs and radio operators.

In 1978, under mounting US pressure, the government of Francisco Morales Bermudez attempted to eradicate coca production. The programme was extremely unpopular and never took off. Despite military intervention, coca planting in Selva Alta increased to supply the booming drug trade. In 1980, militants from the Sendero Luminoso armed group (Senderistas) moved to the Upper Huallaga valley and began living with the locals. They soon discovered that the population was being harassed by both the drug traffickers and the police.

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