Peruvian rebel refuses to repent
Victor Polay, head of the largely defeated Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement,
or MRTA, made the comments in an interview published Thursday in Caretas,
Peru's leading news weekly.
"The MRTA did not initiate the violence in Peru. Our country suffered social
violence and structural crisis since the beginning of the republic, and periodic
political violence," Polay said.
Caretas said it smuggled questions to Polay, who responded in writing from
maximum-security naval prison where he is jailed with other rebel chiefs.
The magazine published what it described as a photo of Polay in his prison
showed a youthful-looking Polay sitting on a narrow bed dressed in a sweater and
smoking a cigarette. Next to him on a bookcase was a sketch of Jose Carlos
Mariategui, who founded Peru's Communist Party in the 1920s.
"The MRTA acted as an organization in arms that sought social change, but
never rejected political dialogue that could have avoided bringing us to civil war,"
The MRTA is blamed for about 200 of the 30,000 deaths in political violence
wracked Peru from 1980 until the mid 1990s. Most of the victims were rural
people caught in the cross fire between the army and the much larger Shining Path,
a Maoist insurgency.
The Tupac Amaru group grabbed world attention in 1997 when 14 of its members
seized the Japanese ambassador's residence during a cocktail party and held 72
hostages for four months. A military raid freed 71 captives but left one hostage and
all the guerrillas dead.
Copyright 2002 The Associated Press.