Peruvian Rebels Wage Propaganda War On Internet

Arm The Spirit (
Sat, 4 Jan 1997 01:29:11 -0500 (EST)

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Peruvian Rebels Wage Propaganda War On Internet

January 3, 1997 Web posted at: 7:30 p.m. EST (2430 GMT)

WASHINGTON (Reuter) -- Marxist guerrillas holding 74 hostages in the Japanese ambassador's residence in Peru are waging a propaganda war on the World Wide Web.

Like many other radical or revolutionary groups in the developing world, the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, or MRTA, has found allies in cyberspace.

On a Web page created the day after MRTA guerrillas stormed a diplomatic reception December 17, supporters of the rebels post communiques issued from inside the besieged mansion, giving updates on the drama and even photographs.

The electronic publication "Voz Rebelde" (Rebel Voice) includes interviews with the group's leaders, messages of solidarity from leftist groups around the world and links to other Web sites on the MRTA in Japanese and Italian.

Fujimori Is Target Of Broadsides

President Alberto Fujimori, who long boasted of having crushed Peru's left-wing guerrillas, is the target of most of the MRTA's propaganda broadsides.

"Fujimori's government proclaimed a great victory over the armed movement," said Isaac Velazco, the MRTA's spokesman in Europe. Velazco was interviewed by the German publication Junge Welt, and it was then posted on the Internet.

"The government deceived itself and went as far as believing that the guerrillas, particularly the MRTA, had been defeated," Velazco said. "We were never so weak as the government supposed."

Adorned with the MRTA shield bearing the head of Tupac Amaru, the Peruvian Indian who led an 18th-century uprising against Spanish conquerors, "Rebel Voice" is one of many guerrilla spaces on the Internet.

Zapatista rebels, who launched an uprising in southern Mexico three years ago, were among the first to stake out revolutionary cyberspace, and became enthusiastic guerrilla hackers.

Shining Path Also On Internet

The Shining Path, a Maoist guerrilla group in Peru that has killed thousands of people during a decade of armed violence, has had its own Web page for six months, maintained by a support group in Berkeley, California.

The MRTA page site was built by "Arm the Spirit," an anarchist group based in Toronto that calls itself an "anti-imperialist information collective."

The Internet even draws together groups separated by bitter ideological differences. The Shining Path's page can be used to access the Web page of its MRTA rival.

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