File spoon-archives/marxism-general.archive/marxism-general_1997/current, message 39

Date: Sat, 17 May 1997 20:27:51 -0400
Subject: M-G: MRTA: MORIR POR EL DIALOGO - por Luis Arce Borja



In the seizure of the Japanese Embassy in Lima (17/12/96), and in the bloody
military operation of April 22/97, both Fujimori and the MRTA have performed
the very same roles they have been playing for years. 

Fujimori, sly, cinical, unescrupulous, blood-thirsty and murderous.  The
MRTA, theatrical showmanship with no military strategy, imprisoned by its
own vacillations, its charlatanery and its quasi-fanatical belief in
dialogues and the possibility of negotiations with the Peruvian regime.


The First Conclussion to come into evidence regarding the question of the
seizure of the Japanese embassy is the fact that the MRTA blindly trusted in
achieving a lasting political settlement with the Fujimori regime. 

>From the very beginning, at the same time that they demanded freedom for
their 450 prisoners, they shamelessly proposed "to take the first steps for
a global solution to the problem of political violence by means of dialogue
and a permanent peace agreement". (MRTA Communique Number 2).

The intention of negotiating away the armed struggle synthesises the
political content of the MRTA action of December 17/96. This political plank
constituted from that day onwards the central compass guiding the deportment
of the MRTA commando along the entire 125 days in which they remained in
occupation of the Japanese embassy.

"Dialogue and lasting peace", these proposals would be reiterated several
times during the occupation of the Japanese embassy. Even after the bloody
finale (22/04/97), the international spokesman for the MRTA, Isaac Velazco,
stated to CNN, the American TV chain, that "the Peruvian people had lost an
oportunity for obtaining a peace agreement". 

It is within the context of their striving for a peace agreement with the
Peruvian regime that the MRTA orients its propaganda towards showing a
kindly face, presenting themselves as approachable, humane people, and above
all, respectful of the lives of their hostages. 

In their Communique Number 4 the MRTA points out that the 72 hostages are
regarded by them as "prisioners of war" and states that the "MRTA has always
respected and will continue to respect the Geneva Convention regarding
internal conflicts". 

In the same document they assert that "the persons inside the embassy are
treated with the respect due to their human condition and their condition as
prisoners of war". Several times they emphasise that they would not harm the

The announcement on the part of the MRTA that the hostages are regarded as
"prisoners of war" and that they, the MRTA, would stand by the Geneva
Convention, would eventually result in fatal consequences for the lives of
the 14 "Tupacamaristas".  With this announcement the government received two
concrete and clear signals:

First, that the lives of the hostages were not in any danger. Second, that
the reaction of the MRTA commando in case of a military intervention would
exclusively consist of defending themselves from the attack. They would not
try anything against the 72 hostages since they regarded them as "war

One must also take into account the fact that the regime kept open permanent
lines of communication with the hostages, allowing it to know with a high
degree of accuracy and detail everything the hostage takers and the hostages
themselves did including their daily routines.

The announcement that the lives of the hostages were assured was tantamount
to throwing wide open the doors of the Japanese embassy. In this fashion,
the MRTA made it perfectly clear that their threats to execute the hostages
in case their demands were rejected were nothing but empty bravado.

If the lives of the 72 hostages was not under any danger, why then negotiate
anything with the MRTA?.  It is at this point in which the MRTA gives away
their last trump card.

The concessions of the MRTA gave the regime every advantage and actually
induced it to opt for the military solution. Given those conditions, for the
government and for imperialism, the use of such military force would serve
to intimidate any others anywhere contemplating similar demands for
negotiations, including the kind of "peace agreements" demanded by the MRTA,
and that was therefore the more attractive course of action for their
perceived interests.

Second Conclussion: Once again Fujimori demonstrated his cinical, criminal
and double dealing nature.  From the start he knew that the lives of the 72
hostages were not in any danger and that the MRTA commando had no
negotiating clout at all.  He then decided to take maximum advantage of this

With the support and advice of the imperialist powers, he organised a plan
aimed at "inflicting an exemplary defeat on terrorism".  With this he wanted
to land a moral and psychological blow against the Peruvian people. With
this aim in mind, he declared himself publically in favour of a peaceful
solution to the hostage crisis.

Fujimori portrayed himself as a "victim of terrorism" and had some success
in obtaining some support and sympathy at the international level. He played
a few governments for fools with a purported scheme to obtain asylum for
Cerpa Cartolini and his commandoes.  

While Fujimori was theatrically pretending to be deep in negotiations, his
repressive forces were digging their way towards the Japanese embassy. While
Fujimori and the so-called "International Guarantors Commission" were
clownishly entertaining the punters, the army was preparing the liquidation
of the MRTA commando. From the beginning until the tragic end, Fujimori and
his government acted and implemented a well reheased sinister charade.

Third Conclussion: There are some people who have tried to convert the MRTA
commando led by Cerpa Cartolini into martyrs and heroes of the Peruvian
revolution. Theirs is a pseudo-Marxist and rather shortsighted outlook.

Those who have adopted such positions show that they are indeed quite remote
from the concrete reality and are serving only to veil the
counter-revolutionary and revisionist nature of the MRTA.  The political and
military activities of the MRTA, from its beginnings in 1984 up to the
seizure of the Japanese embassy (17/12/96) have fundamentally consisted in
seeking capitulation while implementing a virulent campaign against the
People's War led since 1980 by the Communist Party of Peru (PCP).

A gormless death is no reason to be proclaimed as a hero.  The real heroes
of the Peruvian people are the peasants, the workers, the townspeople and
the other poor and oppressed people in Peru.  Those who are unflinchingly
struggling against the regime, its forces of repression and imperialism. It
is impossible to regard as heroes those like the MRTA who have conciliated
and negotiated with the brutal regimes of our country.  

Heroes do not ally themselves with paramilitary bands in order to fight
against the Maoist guerillas.  Heroes cannot be those who have made of the
struggle against "Shining Path" one of their principal reasons for
existance. Heroes are not those who put the armed struggle out to auction,
nor those who capitulate the struggle for a bowl of porridge.

Brussels, May 16, 1997
Luis Arce Borja

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