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Date: Thu, 1 May 97 10:43:21 CDT
From: "Workers World" <ww@wwpublish.com>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: U.S. Role in Peru Massacre

After the Bloodbath, the Truth is Revealed;

Washington's Hidden Role in the Peru Massacre

By John Catalinotto, in the Workers World
8 May 1997

After troops carried out President Alberto Fujimori's order to massacre Peruvian revolutionaries in the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima April 22, he and his backers in Washington put a triumphal spin on the action. With the aid of a compliant press in both Peru and the United States, every effort was made to portray the assault as a bold strike against terorrism.

The reality quickly revealed itself. Most important, Washington's role in the savage slaughter of 14 young guerrillas of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) is now clear.

The MRTA fighters had captured the ambassador's house and hundreds of wealthy party goers, including officials of the Peruvian and other governments, last Dec. 17. The seizure and hostage taking was a tactic to call attention to the poverty and misery of the Peruvian masses, and to demand the release of 400 MRTA political prisoners held in wretched conditions.

In the four months the revolutionaries held the house, they never harmed a single hostage. They released many, including everyone with any medical problems. They permitted Red Cross personnel to enter repeatedly.

Yet the big-business media throughout the capitalist world reported on the April 22 assault, in which the freedom fighters all died, as a triumph over terrorists.


Although the United States government has fully supported Fujimori's vicious assault, diplomatically and politically, State Department spokesperson Nicolas Burns continues to deny a direct U.S. role.

Yet at the same time, U.S. spy officials are taking credit for their role in what they see as a success.

Former FBI Agent Bob Taubert told CNN April 23 that he had trained Peruvian troops last December somewhere in the United States. It was "money well spent," he said. Commenting that the Peruvian commandos performed precisely as he had trained them for such an action, Taubert said he is "very proud."

Other U.S. officials admitted that Peruvian troops have received anti-guerrilla training in the United States for the last 10 years.

The CIA is a key player. On April 28 the New York Times ran an article about Ivan Montesinos. The Times called Montesinos "the shadowy figure who is the unofficial head of Peruvian intelligence."

Montesinos, in other words, is the chief of Peru's secret police. That makes him a central figure in the years-long terror campaign against everyone fighting for justice in Peru.

Ivan Montesinos, according to the Times, has "long been reported to have ties to the Central Intelligence Agency."

This is Washington's man in Lima. He was the architect of the murderous raid on the house MRTA cadres had held.

Fujimori's advisers say Montesinos was behind their boss' decision in 1992 to dissolve the Congress and Supreme Court. The secret-police chief is also known as a "former lawyer of drug barons."

The Times also reported that in 1977 Montesinos was "sentenced to a year in jail by a Peruvian military tribunal for desertion after he visited American military officials in Washington without permission." In that period Peru's nationalist government was more independent of the United States and other imperialist powers.

Its very viciousness gave the April 22 raid a made-in- Washington look. The military's thugs killed all the guerrillas. There are many reports, including one from the agriculture minister who had been a hostage, that some of the revolutionaries were murdered execution-style after the assault ended.

Some of the guerrillas' dead bodies were mutilated. After the massacre, Peru vian TV showed Fujimori striding among the bodies in the house. Some of them had arms and legs chopped off.


Interviewed in the newspaper Junge Welt in Germany on April 24, MRTA spokesperson Norma Velasco assessed the developments leading up to the murderous raid. "The goal of the MRTA unit was not to murder the embassy prisoners," she said. Rather, the guerrillas wanted to win their demands to free the 450 MRTA prisoners held in Peru's prisons.

"We had no illusions" that Fujimori wanted a peaceful solution, Velasco said. But "we did have some bit of hope that international public opinion in many countries would increase pressure on the Peruvian government and force them to give in.

"I mean in countries where, unlike in Peru, people can go out into the streets and demonstrate for their demands. But in this we were disappointed.

"This was a serious defeat for the MRTA. Neither the movement nor the Peruvian people have gained anything from this. But it is not over yet.

"We lost the battle, but the struggle continues," Velasco said.

"A vast segment of the population still suffers from poverty, hunger and a lack of proper medical care, and these problems are increasing. The end of the crisis at the ambassador's residence showed that Fujimori exclusively relies on military means."


The New York Times also noted the regime's dependency on the military. Its April 28 report described Fujimori, Montesinos and armed forces head Gen. Nicolas Hermoza Rios as "Peru's ruling troika."

The regime itself recognizes how thin its popular backing is. This came clear through its handling of the MRTA martyrs' remains.

If the MRTA has no popular support, why did Fujimori refuse to let families bury the dead guerrillas? Why did the government instead secretly bury them in unmarked graves? It was to prevent the grave sites from becoming rallying centers.

Nevertheless, people have discovered where MRTA leader Nestor Cerpa Cartolini's body is buried. His grave in a hillside cemetery in the dirt-poor community of Villa Maria del Triunfo has already become a focus of popular expressions of anger.

A woman by Cerpa's grave told a New York Times reporter: "`He fought for us, for the poor. Look at how we live. Look at how we die."

Another said: "He was not a terrorist. He was a revolutionary."

Cerpa's mother, Felicitas Cartolini, told the Argentinian newspaper Clarin that she plans to make a legal claim against Japan for the execution of her son. "My son was killed on Japanese territory," she said. "I know he was executed. One of the hostages, the agriculture minister, said so, and there were others hostages that also witnessed this."

From Nantes, France, where she resides, Cartolini said on Peruvian television, "I am proud of my son as he has died giving his blood, his life for his comrades."

Dozens of people also demonstrated at the grave of MRTA member Rolly Rojas, shouting, "Long live MRTA!" Rojas was buried in a shantytown cemetery in Lima's San Juan de Lurigancho district. The area is home to two of the horrid prisons where left-wing political activists are held.

Peruvian cops arrested two relatives of jailed MRTA members who visited the home of Rojas' mother, Maria Fernandez de Rojas.


There were demonstrations in several countries protesting the Lima murders. On April 25 hundreds protested at the Peruvian Embassy in Santiago, Chile. Cops with riot shields sprayed tear gas on the demonstrators and pushed them to the ground outside the embassy.

Protesters told television reporters, "We absolutely reject these acts of such cruelty, which should never happen again."

In Mexico City on April 23, scores of people gathered to protest at the Peruvian Embassy. Demonstrators hurled red paint and tomatoes at the building, shouting, "Fujimori murderer" and "Latin America is in mourning."

Also in Mexico, the Popular Revolutionary Army's military command issued a statement calling the massacre an "abominable crime."

The statement continued: "The lands of Latin America are once again stained red. The financial oligarchy is full of congratulations. We revolutionaries are in mourning.

"The best homage to the murdered [MRTA members] will be to continue with the struggle for the revolutionary transformation which will bury forever the domination of capital in all of Latin America."

In the United States, at an April 27 Philadelphia rally against Clinton's cutbacks, Monica Ruiz told 5,000 demonstrators: "The truth is that these young MRTA revolutionaries were fighting for the same things we are fighting for and against the same enemy. Is it a surprise that the Clinton administration aids and abets the Peruvian government when it muzzles the voice of dissent by using police terror?

"Are we surprised that Clinton supports a government that enriches a small group of wealthy families in Peru at the expense of 80 percent of the population who live in utter poverty? After all, he is throwing millions of poor people, disabled children and elderly people on the streets here to beg for charity."

(Copyright Workers World Service: Permission to reprint granted if source is cited. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via e-mail: ww@workers.org. For subscription info send message to: info@workers.org. Web: http://workers.org)

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