With a leftist guerrilla insurgency stalking across parts of the Peruvian countryside, President Fernando Belaunde Terry lives with the fear that his three-year-old government could be its chief victim.
He has reason for concern. Although the guerrillas do not have much public support, they are a growing menace to the important Ayacucho region, just 200 miles from Peru's capital of Lima.
''Their next target could be Lima,'' says an adviser to President Belaunde, commenting on the spectacular coordination of a guerrilla strike on power lines near Lima last week that blacked out much of the capital for hours.
''This is no idle concern,'' the adviser adds.
To cope with the guerrilla threat, President Belaunde reluctantly gave emergency power to the Peruvian military, headed by generals known to be unhappy with his presidency.
The President and his generals have long feuded. They overthrew him in a bloodless coup in 1968 when he was president. It was an era of economic crisis and Belaunde had lost much of his political support. Peruvians returned Belaunde to the presidency in 1980 as their first elected leader after the military stepped down.
Now the generals are again uncomfortable with Belaunde democratic idealism. And he is ill at ease with what he views as their heavy-handed tactics.
There is no assurance the military will honor its pledges to support him. President Belaunde is acutely aware of this. But as the guerrilla menace grew, he had little il14l,0,15l,4pchoice but to ask the military for help.