On July 1, the city of Ayacucho saw serious rioting as a teachers’ strike ended in violence. A week earlier, the local teachers’ union, which belongs to the national teachers union, SUTEP, declared itself on strike, occupying a number of educational buildings in the town. It was when police sought to dislodge the protestors by force in the middle of the night on June 30 that serious trouble erupted. Some 10,000 demonstrators, organised by the Frente de Defensa de Ayacucho, occupied the main square. In their attempts to control the crowd, the police resorted to use of batons and tear gas. As the situation got out of hand, a number of local government buildings and two hotels owned by the mayor were attacked. The headquarters of the provincial government was badly burned.
According to Prime Minister Carlos Ferrero Costa, Sendero Luminoso was to blame for the disturbances, but this version was later challenged by Defence Minister Gen. Roberto Chiabra. The leaders of SUTEP in Ayacucho belong to the so-called ‘National Reconstruction Committee of SUTEP’, which is at loggerheads with the leadership of the national union in Lima. Its main figurehead is Robert Huaynalaya, who is now under investigation by the anti-terrorist police. SUTEP has long been linked to Patria Roja, which emerged in the 1960s as the main Maoist challenger to the Moscow-line Communist Party. But unlike Sendero, Patria Roja joined the Izquierda Unida (IU) coalition in the early 1980s and became involved in electoral politics.