Skip to comments.Jailed Tupac Amaru Peru Rebel Chief Lays Down Arms
Posted on 09/17/2003 9:07:51 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
The imprisoned leader of a Peruvian rebel group that was once involved in a lengthy hostage drama says his group has given up armed conflict and now wants to become a political movement.
In an interview published in Wednesday's Peru21 newspaper, Victor Polay acknowledged that the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement has been defeated.
"The moment has arrived for the MRTA to actively join the political fight, within the framework of democracy," said Polay, using the group's initials in Spanish.
He said he would like authorities to grant amnesty to imprisoned MRTA guerrillas.
"I hope there will be a political way out for my companions, the majority of them young people who have been in prison for an average of 12 years," he said.
The Cuba-inspired Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, along with the larger Shining Path, helped plunge Peru into chaos in the 1980s and early 1990s.
The MRTA grabbed the world's attention in December 1996 when 14 of its members seized the Japanese ambassador's residence during a cocktail party and held 72 hostages for four months. A raid by army commandoes freed 71 of the captives but left one hostage and all the guerrillas dead.
Polay was first captured in 1989, but escaped in a prison break a year later. Police recaptured him in 1992.