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Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA)

Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA)

Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) is a traditional Marxist-Leninist revolutionary movement formed in 1983 from remnants of the Movement of the Revolutionary Left, a Peruvian insurgent group active in the 1960s. The MRTA aims to establish a Marxist regime and to rid Peru of all imperialist elements (primarily U.S. and Japanese influence). Peru's counterterrorist program has diminished the group's ability to carry out terrorist attacks, and the MRTA has suffered from infighting, the imprisonment or deaths of senior leaders, and loss of leftist support. Several MRTA members remained imprisoned in Bolivia. MRTA members have previously conducted bombings, kidnappings, ambushes, and assassinations, but recent activity has fallen drastically. In December, 1996, 14 MRTA members occupied the Japanese Ambassador's residence in Lima and held 72 hostages for more than four months. Peruvian forces stormed the residence in April 1997, rescuing all but one of the remaining hostages and killing all 14 group members, including the remaining leaders. The group has not conducted a significant terrorist operation since and appears more focused on obtaining the release of imprisoned MRTA members.

MRTA is estimated to have fewer than 100 members, consisting largely of young fighters who lack leadership skills and experience. MRTA operates in Peru with supporters throughout Latin America and Western Europe.

FURTHER READING:

ELECTRONIC:

CDI (Center for Defense Information), Terrorism Project. CDI Fact Sheet: Current List of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations. March 27, 2003. <http://www.cdi.org/terrorism/terrorist.cfm> (April 17, 2003).

Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook, 2002. <http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/> (April 16, 2003).

Taylor, Francis X. U.S. Department of State. "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001," Annual Report: On the Record Briefing. May 21, 2002 <http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/rm/10367.htm> (April 17,2003).

U.S. Department of State. Annual Reports. <http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/annual_reports.html> (April 16, 2003).

SEE ALSO

Terrorism, Philosophical and Ideological Origins
Terrorist and Para-State Organizations
Terrorist Organization List, United States
Terrorist Organizations, Freezing of Assets

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Tupac Amaru

Tupac Amaru (tōōpäk´ ämä´rōō), 1742?–1781, leader of indigenous peoples in the viceroyalty of Peru, baptized José Gabriel Condorcanqui. A man of some education and of high moral character, he sympathized with the plight of the native people of Peru and sought to alleviate their condition. Unable to persuade the Spanish colonial government to better conditions in the textile mills, the mines, and the villages, Condorcanqui, under the name of the Inca Tupac Amaru (his supposed ancestor), led a rebellion in 1780. The indigenous people flocked to support him, and at first Tupac Amaru was successful. He was later captured and brutally executed. The revolt continued, notably with the siege of La Paz in 1781, but was finally crushed. All of Tupac Amaru's family were executed or imprisoned, but many of the reforms for which he fought were granted.

See C. F. Walker, The Tupac Amaru Rebellion (2014).

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Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA)

Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA)

LEADERS: Victor Polay; Néstor Cerpa Cartolini

YEAR ESTABLISHED OR BECAME ACTIVE: 1984

ESTIMATED SIZE: 300-600

USUAL AREA OF OPERATION: Peru

OVERVIEW

The Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (Tupac Amaru, or MRTA, which is the acronym for the Spanish name) was a Peruvian Marxist-Leninist revolutionary movement that was founded in 1984. MRTA's objective was to rid Peru of the national "imperialist" government and establish a Marxist regime. Tupac Amaru's political actions include bombings, ambushes, kidnappings for ransom, armed conflict, and assassinations. MRTA's political violence was focused on forwarding its anti-U.S. and antiforeign investment message in Peruvian society. Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, many of its militants were arrested and imprisoned.

Tupac Amaru's membership included some 300 and 600 members as its peak. The group's base of operations was primarily in the upper Huallaga Valley, a jungle area in eastern Peru that is under the control of political rebels and narco-traffickers.

In December 1996, Tupac Amaru attacked the Japanese ambassador's residence in the Peruvian capitol of Lima, taking hundreds of diplomats and top government officials (including the Peruvian president's brother) hostage. The standoff ended on April 22, 1997, when the Peruvian special forces raided the Japanese ambassador's residence (which was part of the Japanese embassy), and freed the remaining seventy-two hostages, killing all fourteen rebels.

HISTORY

The Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement was named after an indigenous leader who fought the Spanish colonial rulers in the 1700s. The group assumed the name Tupac Amaru because Tupac Amaru II symbolized success over imperialist leaders; his rebellions nearly toppled the Spanish stronghold in the largest Incan uprising against the Spaniards in nearly two centuries. Tupac Amaru was tortured and then drawn and quartered in Cuzco in 1782. He is revered by indigenous peoples in the highlands of Peru.

The Tupac Amaru movement formed in the shadow of Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), a fellow revolutionary organization that used armed conflict as a means to accomplishing a complete overthrow of the national government and a return to pre-Incan communal agriculture. In the four years before Tupac Amaru was founded, Sendero developed a series of political violence events, including power supply disruptions, bombings, and violence in the rural highlands of Peru. As Peru's President Terry Fernando Belaúnde fought to maintain control, leftists widely claimed that a military coup d'etat would soon be enacted by the armed forces. This coup would force leftist organizations like Sendero and Tupac Amaru underground.

Sendero, however, pressed on with the violence; with strong support in the countryside, it was establishing bases of operation and control over growing sections of the country. Both Tupac Amaru and Sendero Luminoso fought a guerilla war with the established government, using tactics such as kidnappings, bombings, and power supply disruptions to gain attention for their cause as they attempted to force governmental change or to oust the current government. Tapping into the alienation of the poor, indigenous population, movements like Sendero Luminoso and Tupac Amaru fought for a dramatic leftist change, one that embraced income redistribution, a return to indigenous rule, and a society and government that followed communal ideals.

Tupac Amaru, however, claimed that Sendero's violence was not productive in creating change. Sendero, in turn, criticized Tupac Amaru's willingness to negotiate with the Peruvian government, and to accept money from international organizations and supporters. For a brief time, the two organizations engaged in armed conflict with each other, fighting a two-front war.

Tupac Amaru, or MRTA, financed its actions through bank robberies, extortion, and ransomed kidnappings, as well as through assistance from Cuba and other communist organizations outside of Peru. Tupac Amaru's international contacts were matters of concern to both the Peruvian military and U.S. officials. With connections to leftists in Cuba, Colombia, and El Salvador, the group had enough support from abroad to continue to operate. MRTA may also have received munitions from international allies.

Unlike Sendero Luminoso, though, Tupac Amaru did not use the rural highlands as a base of operations for penetrating an area with the eventual goal of taking charge. Their activities were more traditionally Marxist or communist, in working to disrupt the existing power structure to take control and implement political change.

In 1995, a twenty-five-year-old American woman, Lori Berenson, was arrested for her connection to MRTA and for conspiracy charges. Berenson posed as a freelance journalist for magazines in the United States and brought a woman with her who posed as a photographer. The woman, Nancy Gilvonio, was the wife of one of MRTA's leaders, Néstor Cerpa. In 1995, Berenson had attended public meetings of the Peruvian legislature several times, allegedly as a spy for MRTA. She was accused of "casing" the floor of the Peruvian legislature, and providing the MRTA with the floor plans of the Peruvian Congress. Other charges against her included providing information to Tupac Amaru about the congresses' security and members, as well as paying for rent on an apartment and harboring MRTA members.

Police specifically claimed that, during a raid on a Tupac Amaru safe house that same day, they found evidence of Berenson's conspiracy, including diagrams and notes related to the Peruvian Congress; a coded floor plan of Congress, drawn in Berenson's hand; a forged election ID for Berenson; police and military uniforms; and guns and munitions.

Berenson was also charged with participating in MRTA indoctrination courses, helping to provide members with food and money, and buying beepers and electronic equipment for her and Tupac Amaru members. Berenson was tried by a hooded tribunal and sentenced to life in a Peruvian prison.

LEADERSHIP

VICTOR POLAY CAMPOS

Victor Polay Campos was one of Tupac Amaru's founders in 1983. In 1989, Polay was arrested and imprisoned, but managed to tunnel his way out of prison in 1990. Two years later, he was recaptured and remains in prison, convicted of kidnapping and sabotage charges. He has been sentenced to life in prison.

In 2004, he was permitted a new trial, part of a wave of retrials given to more than 1,900 people convicted under questionable constitutional circumstances during the 1990s. As of this writing, the trial was still underway.

NÉSTOR CERPA CARTOLINI

Néstor Cerpa Cartolini, one of Tupac Amaru's founding members, was the leader of MRTA from 1992 until his death on April 22, 1997, when he was killed by Peruvian forces during the siege on the Japanese ambassador's residence.

Most members of MRTA were from the middle class, but Cerpa was from a working-class family. Active in the labor movement of the 1970s, he worked as a union organizer and served time in prison for taking over a bankrupt textile factory illegally. Four people died in the conflict, and Cerpa spent a year in prison. After serving his time, Cerpa joined the leftist movement in Peru, eventually helping to form MRTA in the early 1980s.

Cerpa was the military leader of the group of 14 MRTA members who stormed the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima on December 17, 1996, and took more than 490 people hostage. He died during the Peruvian military's counterattack on April 22, 1997.

A little over a year later, Tupac Amaru surprised Peru and the world by invading the Japanese ambassador's residence during a birthday party for the Japanese envoy on December 17, 1996. Fourteen Tupac Amaru members, including leader Néstor Cerpa, took control of over 490 hostages. The Japanese Embassy was technically under Japanese control, and yet the crisis took place on Peruvian soil. Promising to take no action that might harm the hostages, President Alberto Fujimori, whose brother was among the hostages, first negotiated for the release of some or all of the 490 captives. Tupac Amaru released all but seventy-one hostages over the next two months. Tupac Amaru kept Fujimori's brother, the Japanese ambassador, Peruvian Supreme Court justices, members of the Peruvian Congress, and other high-ranking officials. MRTA demanded the release of all their imprisoned members, including the wife of current leader Néstor Cerpa Cartolini; Nancy Gilvonio had been imprisoned for more than a year since her capture with Lori Berenson. Fujimori refused to agree to release the imprisoned Tupac Amaru members. He negotiated with MRTA members during the four-month-long standoff, all while planning a possible military assault on the palace.

On April 22, 1997, Peruvian military commandoes stormed the palace in a carefully planned counter-terrorism siege. All fourteen Tupac Amaru hostage-takers were killed by the military forces, and one Supreme Court justice and two soldiers died in the attack as well.

PHILOSOPHY AND TACTICS

The stated goal of Tupac Amaru was to replace representative democracy with a more direct role for people in society and politics. According to MRTA's leader from 1983–1992, Victor Polay, Peru had become a dependent capitalist country with an imperialist national government. With a nod to the French Revolution, Polay believed that there is a bourgeoisie and upper class that promoted imperialist ideals, with a large working class; the MRTA incorporated anti-capitalist elements into its campaigns. These ideas appealed as well to the rural peasantry, with the imagery of Tupac Amaru and the leftist goals of income and land redistribution.

MRTA was organized around three levels of membership: soldiers; part-time, ad hoc militia members; and self-defense committees in villages, organized to work on social, political, and legal issues.

According to MRTA's philosophy and tactics, in every institution—business, education, government—the people must control the operations directly. The people must collectively own and control all property; state control would lead to bureaucratization and corruption. Even private corporations function under the hand of the national government; MRTA found their existence unacceptable.

Tupac Amaru began its armed struggle in San Martin province, where farmers were reasonably well organized; the CCP (Confederación Campesina del Peru, or Farmer's Confederation of Peru) provided a sympathetic base from which to start. Starting in 1985, Tupac Amaru began building and organizing forces, and in 1987 initiated the first of many actions.

The MRTA had originally confined its activities to urban areas and a few coastal areas such as Lima, Ica, and Trujillo. The group frequently pressured the national government to increase investment in areas where it was popular among the local residents. In 1985, the MRTA offered a ceasefire to new President Alan Garcia if the new government would make fair settlements with unions and increase the minimum wage. They also requested that other nations suspend debt payment requirements and that Garcia nationalize the property of foreign companies. Tupac Amaru kidnapped and ransomed the president of the San Martin development corporation in 1988 to pressure the government to accomplish some of these investment goals.

KEY EVENTS

1987:
The MRTA took control over a provincial capital, Juanji, a city of 25,000 inhabitants.
1987:
The MRTA occupied seven radio stations in Lima; broadcasted statement against increasing militarization of Peruvian society.
1989:
Police arrested and imprisoned Victor Polay.
1990:
MRTA soldier shot former Defense Minister E. Lopez Albujar.
1990:
Victor Polay and forty-six other inmates escaped from prison after digging a tunnel.
1992:
Victor Polay was recaptured.
1995:
Thirty Tupac Amaru members, including alleged member Lori Berenson, were arrested on conspiracy charges involving a plot against the Peruvian Congress.

Tupac Amaru took a more reformist approach in its dealings with the national government, hoping to work somewhat within the system to achieve its goals. Unlike Sendero Luminoso, the MRTA was willing to accept money from groups outside of Peru, and to attempt to negotiate with Peru's president. Sendero openly criticized both approaches, and open confrontations and armed fighting occurred between the two groups, especially in the Upper Huallaga, JunUn, and the lower jungle foothills. In 1989, Tupac Amaru and Sendero fought in open, armed conflict on the campus of San Marcos University.

At that point, however, the MRTA had suffered losses between fighting with Sendero Luminoso and with Peruvian forces. Police captured then-leader Victor Polay. However, within a year, Polay, along with forty-six other inmates, had dug a tunnel out of the prison, and escaped in 1990. He was recaptured in 1992, and Néstor Cerpa took control of the MRTA.

By 1996, the year after Lori Berenson and thirty other MRTA members were arrested and imprisoned, Tupac Amaru executed a raid on the Japanese ambassador's residence on December 17, 1996. The size of the operation diverged sharply from past actions; more than 490 people were initially held hostage. Tupac Amaru's siege on the Japanese ambassador's house was calculated to send a national and international message. Japan had invested more then $280 million in Peru's economy in 1995; the MRTA was violently opposed to foreign investment and foreign influence in Peru. The hostage crisis was viewed as an attack on President Fujimori's strength as president and on his Japanese heritage as well.

Four months later, the Peruvian military invaded the compound and ended the siege, killing all fourteen MRTA members involved, including their leader, Néstor Cerpa. This effectively ended the group's activity, and Tupac Amaru is now considered to be largely defunct.

PRIMARY SOURCE
Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA)

DESCRIPTION

MRTA is a traditional Marxist-Leninist revolutionary movement formed in 1983 from remnants of the Movement of the Revolutionary Left, a Peruvian insurgent group active in the 1960s. It aims to establish a Marxist regime and to rid Peru of all imperialist elements (primarily US and Japanese influence). Peru's counterterrorist program has diminished the group's ability to conduct terrorist attacks, and the MRTA has suffered from infighting, the imprisonment or deaths of senior leaders, and the loss of leftist support.

ACTIVITIES

Previously conducted bombings, kidnappings, ambushes, and assassinations, but recent activity has fallen drastically. In December 1996, fourteen MRTA members occupied the Japanese Ambassador's residence in Lima and held seventy-two hostages for more than four months. Peruvian forces stormed the residence in April 1997, rescuing all but one of the remaining hostages and killing all fourteen group members, including the remaining leaders. The group has not conducted a significant terrorist operation since and appears more focused on obtaining the release of imprisoned MRTA members, although there are reports of low-level rebuilding efforts.

STRENGTH

Believed to be no more than 100 members, consisting largely of young fighters who lack leadership skills and experience.

LOCATION/AREA OF OPERATION

Peru, with supporters throughout Latin America and Western Europe. Controls no territory.

EXTERNAL AID

None.

Source: U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Terrorism. Washington, D.C., 2004.

OTHER PERSPECTIVES

In 2000, President Alberto Fujimori fled the country and moved to Japan, faxing his resignation to Peru. The Peruvian Congress rejected the resignation and declared him "morally unfit to serve." On September 5, 2001, Peru's Attorney General filed homicide charges against ex-President Fujimori for killings that took place from 1990–1995 in the name of fighting terrorism in Peru. In 2002, new forensic evidence revealed that thirteen of the fourteen Tupac Amaru rebels killed in the military raid on the Japanese ambassador's home were shot in the back, evidence that they had surrendered but were killed afterward.

While public sentiment was still against the MRTA rebels and against other extremist groups such as Sendero Luminoso, the new evidence changed the opinions of some Peruvians concerning the national government's acts in fighting terrorism. Support grew for the retrials that had been ordered for more than 1,900 prisoners.

SUMMARY

Following the Peruvian armed forces' storming of the Japanese ambassador's residence, and the death of MRTA's leader, the group became essentially defunct. The Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Report issued in 2003 holds Tupac Amaru responsible for approximately 1.5% of all deaths it investigated; by comparison, the report states that Sendero Luminoso is responsible for more than 20% of deaths.

Lori Berenson, however, remains in prison for her alleged role in spying for Tupac Amaru and for helping to put in place a plot to kidnap members of the Peruvian Congress. In 2001, Berenson was given a second trial, in which her sentence was lessened from life in prison to twenty years; her release date would be in 2015, at which time she would be deported from Peru.

Victor Polay remains in jail. He is, as of this writing, going through a new trial.

SOURCES

Books

Conaghan, Catherine M. Fujimori's Peru: Deception In The Public Sphere. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005.

Web sites

Amnesty International. "PERU: Summary of Amnesty Internationals concerns 1980–1995." 〈http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/〉 (accessed October 5, 2005).

PBS.org. "Hostage Crisis." 〈http://www.pbs.org/news-hour/bb/latin_america/december96/peru_12-19.html〉 (accessed October 5, 2005).

SEE ALSO

Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path)

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Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA)

Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA)

"Peruvian Soldiers Storm Diplomatic Mansion"

News article

By: Lynn Monahan

Date: April 23, 1997

Source: The Associated Press

About the Author: Lynn Monahan is an Associated Press writer who covered Peruvian politics and society at the time of the Tupac Amaru hostage crisis. Her reports from Peru also included articles on Lori Berenson, an American accused of aiding Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) insurgents, as well as special interest articles on Peruvian society.

INTRODUCTION

Revolutionary movements developed in Latin American countries as a response to economic decline throughout the 1980s. As inflation reached rates as high as 10,000%, groups such as Shining Path in Peru, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Colombia, and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) in Peru fought a guerilla war with established governments. These groups used tactics such as kidnappings, bombings, and power supply disruptions to gain attention for their cause. Tapping into the anger and frustration of the Native American population living in poverty, these movements often supported a leftist change that involved income and land redistribution.

When Alberto Fujimori, the son of Japanese immigrants, assumed the presidency of Peru on July 28, 1990, he ushered in a more authoritarian presidential style—one that harkened back to the militaristic, "strongman" rule of the nineteenth century caudillo—the strong military leader. Instituting dramatic free market reforms, he attempted to follow a Chilean path to end Peru's economic woes. Chile, Peru's neighbor to the south, had experienced the "Chilean Economic Miracle" of the 1980s, brought on by a combination of free market reforms, government program cuts, and massive privatization of government-held industries. Fujimori's "Fujishock" policies generated more than $9 billion from privatization and, in 1994, economic growth reached 12%, but with a detrimental effect on the poor. Coca (the leafy plant from which cocaine is made) farming became a path for economic prosperity in the countryside, but the United States pressured Peru to reduce coca exports as part of the United States' anti-drug trafficking policies.

By 1992, Fujimori's policies were in full force. As part of his authoritarian rule, Peruvian forces cracked down on both Shining Path and Tupac Amaru. Foreign investment was important for Peru's economy to recover, and Fujimori's relentless pursuit of the rebels was spurred by investors' fears that these groups represented instability in the country. When the leaders of both rebel groups were captured, it signaled to Peruvians and the world that Fujimori maintained control over Peru. Fujimori declared victory over the insurgents. By 1995, Japan invested more than $280 million in Peru's economy, surpassing the United States as Peru's largest foreign investor.

However, on December 17, 1996, the Tupac Amaru captured the Japanese ambassador's residence during a birthday party for the Japanese envoy. Fujimori faced a difficult balancing act. The Japanese Embassy was technically under Japanese control, and yet the crisis took place on Peruvian soil. Promising to take no action that might harm the hostages, Fujimori first negotiated the release of some or all of the 490 captives. Over the next two months, Tupac Amaru released all but 71 hostages. The group retained Fujimori's brother, the Japanese ambassador, Peruvian Supreme Court justices, members of the Peruvian Congress, and other high-ranking officials. Tupac Amaru demanded the release of all their imprisoned members, including the wife of current leader Nestor Cerpa Cartolini. Fujimori refused to release the imprisoned Tupac Amaru members, but maintained open negotiations while planning a possible military assault on the palace.

On April 22, 1997, Peruvian forces stormed the palace after receiving a tip that the rebels were playing a game of soccer, far from most of the hostages. The soldiers killed all 14 Tupac Amaru hostage-takers. One Peruvian Supreme Court justice and two soldiers died in the attack as well. The Japanese government was stunned, as Fujimori had given them no prior warning, and had not consulted legislators on the planned attack.

PRIMARY SOURCE

In a lightning assault, Peruvian troops stormed the Japanese ambassador's mansion Tuesday and rescued 71 hostages held for four months, killing all 14 rebel captors as the unsuspecting guerrillas played soccer.

One captive, Supreme Court Justice Carlos Giusti, and two soldiers also died, President Alberto Fujimori said. Some hostages were secretly warned just before the raid, one of the freed men said.

Fujimori said 25 other captives were injured in the gunfire and explosions that rocked the compound. Two were in serious condition, Peru's foreign minister, Francisco Tudela, and another Supreme Court justice, both suffering gunshot wounds.

"I didn't waver for a single minute in giving the order for this rescue operation," said the president, who throughout the crisis adamantly rejected the guerrillas' demand that jailed comrades be freed in exchange for the captive diplomats and businessmen.

The operation ended an international ordeal that had transfixed two nations and focused global attention on a little-known leftist rebel group, Tupac Amaru, which has waged guerrilla war here since 1984.

In Tokyo, Japan's prime minister called it a "splendid rescue," but also said it was "regrettable." that Peru had not forewarned his government of the surprise, broad-day-light attack.

Fujimori told reporters late Tuesday that intelligence information convinced him it was an ideal time to end the impasse by force.

He apparently was referring to word of the indoor soccer game. Bolivian Ambassador Jorge Gumucio, one of the freed hostages, said eight hostage-holders were playing soccer in the main hall of the diplomatic residence when the security forces struck, setting off an explosion in a tunnel directly under the hall about 3:30 p.m.

The 140-man military-police assault team then poured through the compound's front gate and blasted open the mansion's front door. Others attacked from the rear, and a third unit climbed to the rooftop and shepherded hostages down to the ground.

"I was playing mahjong with fellow hostages, and we suddenly heard the enormous blasts," said Tadashi Iwamoto, president of Lima Tomen, a Japanese trading house. "We grabbed blankets and covered our heads and lay flat on the floor."

Iwamoto said some hostages suffered burns, but one group kicked the iron fence and the door in until they broke and went outside and climbed down to the ground.

"When I heard the blast ...I thought ah, this is the end of my life," Japanese ambassador Morihisa Aoki told the Japanese television NHK. "In order to have as many people survive as possible, I told everyone in my room again and again not to move, even an inch."

The assault ended quickly. As smoke billowed over the residence, triumphant soldiers hauled down the guerrillas' flag, and ex-hostages and rescuers cheered and jubilantly sang the Peruvian national anthem. A large pool of blood could be seen at the bottom of a stairway.

Fujimori said all 14 rebels were killed, including the group's leader, Nestor Cerpa, and at least two teen-age girls. Gumucio said Cerpa was one of those playing soccer.

Gumucio also said authorities managed to warn some of the captives 10 minutes before the raid. He declined to say how.

The hostages, all male, were mostly Peruvians and included Fujimori's brother. They also included 24 Japanese—12 businessmen and 12 diplomats, including Aoki, who suffered a slight elbow injury during the rescue. There were no Americans among the hostages.

Less than an hour after the raid, Fujimori strapped on a bulletproof vest and victoriously entered the compound. He shook ex-hostages' hands and joined with them and soldiers in singing the national anthem.

Smiling and carrying a large red-and-white Peruvian flag, Fujimori traveled with two busloads of hostages, apparently unharmed, to a military hospital.

Other hostages were rushed off in ambulances. Friends and family gathered at the nearby hospital to look for loved ones.

"We're here to applaud the hostages and police for their bravery," said one woman, Edith Gonzalez. "There was no other alternative but to attack."

But the sister of one hostage said she wasn't sure.

"I don't know if the attack was necessary," said Nancy Dominguez, 53. "All I know is it was a horrible shame."

At the White House, spokesman Eric Rubin said the United States believed the rebels bear "full responsibility for this crisis. We have stated that the Peruvian government was right not to make concessions to terrorists."

Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto said Peru had not told him in advance of the raid, even though the compound is technically Japanese soil. Japan had repeatedly asked the Peruvians to avoid any actions that might endanger the hostages.

"Our country was not informed in advance and this is very regrettable," Hashimoto said. But he expressed support for Peru's leader, saying, "There should be nobody who could criticize Mr. Fujimori for his decision."

The two national leaders consulted closely during the crisis. At a meeting with Hashimoto in Canada, Fujimori agreed to talks with the guerrillas. He subsequently traveled to Cuba and won President Fidel Castro's agreement to grant asylum to the rebels if necessary to end the standoff.

But the negotiations broke down March 12 over the rebels' demand that Peru free their jailed comrades. Fujimori repeatedly ruled that out.

Fujimori had said he would use force to end the crisis only as a last resort, but Peruvian news media repeatedly reported military plans to raid the compound.

The heavily armed guerrillas stormed the residence on Dec. 17 during a cocktail party marking the Japanese emperor's birthday and took almost 500 hostages. They quickly released most of them.

Rebels had warned they had heavily mined the compound to prevent an assault, and staged drills earlier this month to prepare for raids.

The hostage crisis had sparked a political crisis in Peru, and Peru's interior minister and national police chief stepped down over the weekend to accept blame for security lapses that allowed the takeover.

The Tupac Amaru guerrillas took the group's name from a colonial-era Indian rebel. They espouse a vague leftist ideology, denouncing Fujimori's free-market reforms as a boost only for the rich, but don't call themselves communist or Marxist.

SIGNIFICANCE

Revolutionary insurgent groups such as the Shining Path rebels and Tupac Amaru affected Peruvian society at a critical point in Peru's economic modernization. Fujimori sought to stabilize Peru's economy and bring it in line with other stable economies in South America at the time, such as Chile and Argentina. Meanwhile, rebel groups tapped into the alienation and economic insecurity of the nation's poor.

Tupac Amaru's siege on the Japanese ambassador's house was a calculated national and international message. Japan had invested more then $280 million in Peru's economy in 1995. The hostage crisis was viewed as an attack on President Fujimori's strength as president and on his Japanese heritage as well.

As Monahan notes, "Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto said Peru had not told him in advance of the raid, even though the compound is technically Japanese soil. Japan had repeatedly asked the Peruvians to avoid any actions that might endanger the hostages." In addition, "The two national leaders consulted closely during the crisis. At a meeting with Hashimoto in Canada, Fujimori agreed to talks with the guerrillas. He subsequently traveled to Cuba and won President Fidel Castro's agreement to grant asylum to the rebels if necessary to end the standoff." This trip to Cuba was viewed by the rebels as a minor victory. By forcing Fujimori to travel to Cuba and to ask the communist leader for his involvement in solving the crisis, Tupac Amaru was hailed by supporters as weakening Fujimori's anti-terrorist stance.

Japanese relations took an interesting turn. While the Japanese expressed shock that they had not been consulted, they nonetheless congratulated Fujimori for his actions and the operation's success. Political analysts speculated that Fujimori's reluctance to consult Japan stemmed in part from Japan's willingness to pay ransom for hostages, such as the 1977 hijacking of a Japan Airlines flight by the Japanese Red Army and the $6 million ransom paid by the Japanese government for the release of the captives.

The raid on the Tupac Amaru rebels was considered a success by Fujimori and international anti-terrorist analysts. Combined with the 1992 capture of Abimael Guzmán, the leader of Shining Path, Fujimori's granting the military broad powers to arrest suspected terrorists, military tribunals for suspected terrorists, and the arming of rural Peruvians called rondas campesinas (peasant patrols), the president had developed a series of steps that led to his declaration that he had achieved victory over revolutionary groups.

However, according to human rights agencies, the suppression of revolutionary movements came at a cost. By some estimates from groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, between 1980 and 2000, more than 30,000 Peruvians died or disappeared, many allegedly as a result of Fujimori's policies that permitted the military to round up suspected Shining Path rebels without granting formal legal protection. Incidents such as the May 14, 1988 killings of forty-seven peasants in Caymara, Ayacucho were brought to light. Fourteen members of the Peruvian military were tried and convicted of the killings, with sentences ranging from three months to one year. None of the convicted served any prison time. Before leaving office, Fujimori granted amnesty to any member of the Peruvian military or police force who was convicted or accused of crimes between the years 1980 and 1995.

On November 17, 2000, Fujimori arrived in Japan unexpectedly. Amid allegations of improper use of government funds, and with mounting pressure from human rights groups, Fujimori faxed his resignation to Peru from Japan on November 20, 2000. The Peruvian Congress rejected the resignation and instead deemed him "morally unfit to serve," barring him from holding office. On September 5, 2001, Peru's Attorney General filed homicide charges against ex-president Fujimori. In exile in Japan, which has no extradition treaty with Peru, Fujimori refuses to return to Peru voluntarily.

FURTHER RESOURCES

Books

Conaghan, Catherine M. Fujimori's Peru: Deception In The Public Sphere. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005.

Web sites

PBS.org. "Hostage Crisis." <http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/latin_america/december96/peru_12–19.html> (accessed June 19, 2005).

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