(en) Interview With The MRTA - January 27, 1997

Arm The Spirit (ats@locust.cic.net)
Mon, 27 Jan 1997 01:26:10 -0500 (EST)

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Is Fujimori Planning To Storm The Residence?

[For the past few days, the Peruvian government has increased its military presence outside of the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima, in which fighters of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) continue to hold 72 people hostage. The following interview with Isaac Velazco, European Representative of the MRTA, is from the January 27, 1997 edition of the left-wing German daily "junge Welt".]

On Sunday, the MRTA released another hostage. Shortly before that, President Alberto Fujimori declared he would "eradicate" the MRTA and threatened to end his strategy of negotiations. What affect has this had on the situation in the occupied residence?

No doubt it will greatly demoralize those people in the hands of the MRTA. The government is stating that they wish to solve the conflict militarily, with no regard for the lives of the hostages. A military storming of the residence would end the possibility of finding a political solution to Peru's problems. The deaths of Tupac Amaru fighters would escalate the conflict across the country.

Several MRTA prisoners have supposedly already been transferred to a remote prison in the mountains.

The situation of the political prisoners in Peru has worsened drastically over the past few weeks. The government has already banned visits by relatives. The political prisoners are now in a situation of prolonged isolation. And according to information from one navy officer, our three comrades imprisoned in the [Callao] navy base near Lima - Victor Polay Campos, Maria Lucero Cumpa Miranda, and Peter Cardenas Schult - are being tortured.

The government allowed heavily-armed police units to march in front of the Japanese ambassador's residence and to simulate an attack. Police even threw stones at the house, and a helicopter flew overhead. How do you evaluate these continuing demonstrations of military strength?

In addition, international press representatives have been pushed back from the area. All of this seems to indicate that plans are being made for a military attack. It's no coincidence that the government met with national media outlets and journalists in Peru to spell out clear restrictions on reporting. The Peruvian government is preparing everything so that any storming of the residence may be carried out with impunity. There will be no witnesses to complain of their barbarism.

Does the Peruvian public openly support the MRTA?

All rallies, all gatherings in Peru are brutally suppressed. The people are hoping for change. But the left-wing parties in Peru are hampered: They must align themselves with the government in order to avoid political persecution or an outright ban on their activities. Human rights groups, which used to be active in Peru, can no longer operate. For years now, they have remained silent about the government's daily crimes. There is a lot of fear - but also a lot of hope. Resistance springs from social dissatisfaction.... And revolutionary movements arise when a people are subjected to state terror. If there was social justice in Peru, there would be no need for a guerrilla movement.

What does the MRTA ask from the international community, in particular from Germany?

We ask that the international community, and Germany, speak out in favor of a political solution to the conflict and that they declare that none of their special forces will be sent to Peru. Despite their knowledge of the present situation in Peru, the international community and the IMF have not changed their conduct towards Peru. During the first week of the siege, when Fujimori refused to rule out the use of force and when he said the government needed to decide whether only Peruvian troops would be used or if they should also use American, Israeli, or even German forces as well, the German government made no comment on the matter. It was never stated whether or not German special forces troops were ready and waiting in Peru or not. Germany should ask that Fujimori clarify his intentions.

The situation seems unchanged. Fujimori refuses to release the political prisoners, just like before. What compromises are the MRTA willing to make?

The government seems less willing to seek a political solution and more willing to use a military option. We would never accept supposedly improved prison conditions. We will no longer tolerate political prisoners in Peru being tortured under the most horrible conditions. Our exclusive demand remains that the prisoners be freed.

If a political solution to the conflict is not reached and the Peruvian military or other special forces storm the Japanese ambassador's residence, how will the MRTA react?

We want a political solution. If the ambassador's residence is stormed, the situation all across Peru will intensify and become much worse. All across Peru, armed commandos of the MRTA are ready to carry out attacks on economic and political targets.

(Interview by Michael Backmund; Translated by Arm The Spirit)

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