Although there were many Indian Sendero Luminoso cadres in the movement, your average Senderista cadre was a mestizo, a victim of racial discrimination blocking their desire to move up in the world.
On the other hand, the revolution itself started in the high Andes with Sendero blowing up a polling booth in a small Indian town.
Very early in the war, attacks were being waged by a column led by Edith Lagos, a 19 year old Quechua Indian. She was a heroine in the heavily-Indian city of Ayachuco. She was killed in a firefight with the army, and her funeral was held at midnight in a Catholic Church (even though Sendero was officially atheist) in the city.
The city had a population of 30,000 and it was said that 30,000 people attended her funeral, which was presided over by actual Catholic priests. Supposedly the entire city came out for her midnight funeral. Unbelievably long lines of people waiting to get in stretched and wound far through the city. It was quite an event! Quite a few Indians visit her grave, which has been turned into a shrine, to this very day.
The leadership of Sendero was all mestizo or even Whites, led by a White university professor!
There were a number of people from the wealthy class in Lima in the top ranks of Sendero. Quite a few of them were in the arts. One was one of the most famous ballerinas in the country.
The most famous anthropologist in Peru was said to be the “intellectual father” of Sendero, although he was not a member of the organization.
Sybila Arredondo, the ex-wife of Peru’s most famous novelist, José María Arguedas, was a high-ranking Senderista. She was actually on Sendero’s Central committee at one time around 1986!