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Búfalos ('The Buffaloes') is the name attributed to paramilitary squads connected to the APRA Party in Peru, originating in the 1930s.[1][2][3][4] The name of the group was taken from Manuel 'Bufálo' Barreto, who had led an attack on the O'Donovan military base in 1932.[1] Búfalos have traditionally acted as bodyguards of APRA leaders.[5] In the discourse of APRA chief Victor Raúl Haya de la Torre, búfalos would be responsible for crowd control during mass rallies.[6]

Búfalos were first organized by the then APRA general secretary Armando Villanueva.[7][8] Búfalos carried arm-bands with the five-point star party symbol.[9]

The height of búfalo activism was during the formative years of the party, 1930-1948, as búfalo cells engaged in assassinations and acts of terror.[10] As the APRA party came under attack from the military, búfalos conducted counter-attacks (including the high-profile assassination of Luis Miguel Sánchez Cerro in 1933).[11] Bufálos also used to intimidate leftist trade unionists and intellectuals.[12] The groups also organized local protection rackets.[13] In the coastal plantation areas, búfalos engaged in violent strike-breaking.[14]

Búfalo activity did however continue, allegedly during election campaigns in the 1960s.[3] When Alan García took over as APRA general secretary in 1982, he began curbing búfalo activities in a move to clean up the image of the party.[15]

The fact that APRA maintained paramilitary violent shock troops during the interwar era has been cited as an indication amongst scholars that APRA could be classified as a fascist party during that period.[16][17] It has also been argued that the búfalo experience of 1930-1948 provided the 1980s Sendero Luminoso guerrilla movement with an endogenous model for 'People's War' in Peru.[10]


  1. ^ a b Rosas Lauro, Claudia. El miedo en el Perú: siglos XVI al XX. Lima: Pontificia Univ. Católica del Perú, Fondo Ed.[u.a.], 2005. p. 259
  2. ^ Inter-American Economic Affairs, Vol. 18. Inter-American Affairs Press, 1964. p. 41
  3. ^ a b Hilliker, Grant. The Politics of Reform in Peru; The Aprista and Other Mass Parties of Latin America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1971. p. 108
  4. ^ ISLA, Vol. 19. I.S.L.A., 1979. p. 317
  5. ^ Alcántara Sáez, Manuel. Partidos políticos de América Latina - Países Andinos. Salamanca: Ed. Univ. de Salamanca, 2001. p. 444
  6. ^ Haya de la Torre, Víctor Raúl. El plan del aprismo, programa de gobierno de Partido aprista peruano. Lima: Editorial Libertad, 1933. p. 50
  7. ^ González Casanova, Pablo. El Estado en América Latina: teoría y práctica. México, D.F.: Siglo Veintiuno Editores, 1990. p. 362
  8. ^ Griffin Sanders, Thomas, and Howard Handelman. Military Government and the Movement Toward Democracy in South America. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Pr, 1981. pp. 130, 133
  9. ^ Szulc, Tad. Twilight of the Tyrants. [New York]: Holt, 1959. p. 175
  10. ^ a b Castro, Daniel de. Revolution and Revolutionaries: Guerrilla Movements in Latin America. London: SR Books, 1999. p. 176
  11. ^ Cockcroft, James D. América Latina y Estados Unidos: historia y política país por país. México: Siglo XXi, 2001. p. 531
  12. ^ Griffin Sanders, Thomas, and Howard Handelman. Military Government and the Movement Toward Democracy in South America. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Pr, 1981. p. 120
  13. ^ Bethell, Leslie. The Cambridge History of Latin America 8 Latin America Since 1930 : Spanish South America. Cambridge [u.a.]: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1991. p. 448
  14. ^ Weaver, Kathleen, and Magda Portal. Peruvian Rebel: The World of Magda Portal, with a Selection of Her Poems. University Park, Pa: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009. p. 143
  15. ^ Gunson, Phil, Andrew Thompson, and Greg Chamberlain. The Dictionary of Contemporary Politics of South America. New York: Macmillan Pub. Co, 1989. p. 49
  16. ^ Laqueur, Walter. Fascism: A Reader's Guide : Analyses, Interpretations, Bibliography. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978. pp. 282-283
  17. ^ Griffin, Roger. The Nature of Fascism. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991. p. 149