MRTA Interview - December 19, 1996

Arm The Spirit (
Sat, 21 Dec 1996 04:19:09 -0500 (EST)

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What Are The Goals Of Your Embassy Occupation?

Interview With Norma Velazco, Representative Of The Tupac Amaru
Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) In Peru

(Translated by Arm The Spirit from "junge Welt", Dec.19, 1996)

What are the goals of your embassy occupation?

In a situation of violence and increased repression, being exerted by
the Peruvian authorities against political prisoners, the military
action of the MRTA has two goals:

1. The release of MRTA prisoners, as well as those prisoners falsely
accused by the government of being MRTA militants.

2. To carry out an action against neo-liberalism, which the Peruvian
regime is practicing.

Why did the MRTA, by taking foreign diplomats hostage, seek an
international confrontation?

The MRTA does not wish a confrontation with the international
community and it respects the integrity of its representatives. But we did
not release these diplomats so that we could avoid unnecessary bloodshed
and thereby reach a political solution. The MRTA, in the fall of 1995,
planned to occupy the Peruvian parliament building in Lima. This action
could not be carried out because the commando was discovered shortly

In general, guerrilla struggle in Latin America has ended. Does the MRTA
also seek to end its armed struggle?

We respect the decisions of the guerrilla in El Salvador and Guatemala
to end the armed struggle. Although we are critical of their decisions,
we think they know the situation in their countries best. The militants
of the MRTA, however, categorically reject peace talks with the
government. That is the view of the base elements of the MRTA as well as
the leadership. It is still necessary to wage a revolutionary struggle
for social change.

Why is it necessary?

Following the decline of the popular movement over the past few years,
our present task is to create a revolutionary consciousness. The
re-organization of the popular organizations will be advanced by armed
organizations, which are like needle points in the side of the
government. The government must realize that the MRTA still exists and
has not, like the government propaganda says, been destroyed. The MRTA
has dealt more losses to the Peruvian army in war than the government of
Ecuador has. In the past three years, two military barracks and four
army helicopters were destroyed. But the media and the government of
Peru never acknowledged these military actions. But they can't ignore
our present action.

The political prisoners are a major focus of this latest action. What is
their situation in Peru like at the present time?

After the Fujimori-Putsch of 1992, a civil-military dictatorship was
put into place in Peru. Special laws aimed at leftist organizations were
passed which gave the police, the army, and the courts all possible
means of repression. There are thousands of political prisoners in Peru.
They are members of farmers groups, students, women, union members, and
so on. The majority of these prisoners, both men and women, have refused
offers of amnesty. They are subjected to special forms of physical and
psychological torture.

There are twelve high-security prisons in Peru. One of them is a marine
base. Our comrade Maria Cumpa is in total isolation there, and because
her family has distanced themselves from her, she is not allowed any
visits. According to the anti-terror laws, only family members may visit
political prisoners. Another prison is located at an altitude of 4,000
meters in the Andes Mountains. The climate there makes life very hard
for the prisoners. The wind blows through the bars and it is always
cold. Many prisoners suffer from respiratory illnesses and stomach

People who are arrested [under the anti-terror laws] are sentenced
within 24 hours, with no chance of a defense. The prisoners must then
live in total isolation for a whole year. Afterwards they can receive
one 30-minute visit every month, but only from immediate family members.
They are confined to their small cells for all but half an hour each
day. They have no radio or TV. They also are denied medical treatment.
The food is very bad. Often times, the food is rotten and the guards mix
in glass, rats, or cockroaches with the food. Prison conditions are the
same for women and men. But the women must in addition endure sexual
assaults and intimidation. There is also a lack of water in the prisons.
All prisoners receive only two liters of water per day for bathing,
washing, and drinking.

How realistic are the chances that the Peruvian government will accept
the demands of the embassy occupiers?

The Peruvian government knows that the MRTA is a political organization
which does not violate its principles. So the regime has only two
options: a military assault, or the fulfillment of the demands made by
the MRTA commando, which means releasing the prisoners. The militants of
the MRTA are determined to see this through to the end.

(Interview by Peter Nowak,

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