Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement
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- For the Uruguayan guerrilla group, see Tupamaros.
|Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement|
|Active||1984 - about 1997|
|Motto||"With the masses and the weapons, fatherland or death, we will win" and "I don't have patience to take all this!"|
|Colors||Red and white|
|Battles/wars||Japanese embassy hostage crisis|
|Néstor Cerpa Cartolini (deceased) Víctor Polay (imprisoned)|
|Face of Túpac Amaru II above a mace and rifle forming a V|
The Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement or Movimiento Revolucionario Túpac Amaru (MRTA) was a communist guerrilla movement active in Peru from 1984 to 1997 and one of the main actors in the internal conflict in Peru. It was led by Néstor Cerpa Cartolini until his death in 1997. The MRTA took its name in homage to Túpac Amaru II, an 18th-century rebel leader who was himself named after his ancestor Túpac Amaru, the last indigenous leader of the Inca people. MRTA was considered a terrorist organization by the Peruvian government. At the height of its strength, it had about one hundred active members.
The MRTA was a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary movement formed in 1983 from remnants of the Movement of the Revolutionary Left, an insurgent group active in Peru in the 1960s. Its stated goals were to establish a communist state and rid the country of all imperialist elements (primarily US and Japanese influence). Peru's counterterrorist program diminished the group's ability to carry out terrorist attacks, and the MRTA suffered from infighting as well as violent clashes with Maoist rival Shining Path, the imprisonment or deaths of senior leaders, and loss of leftist support. Several MRTA members remain imprisoned in Bolivia.
In a case that attracted international attention, Lori Berenson, a former MIT student and U.S. socialist activist living in Lima, was arrested on November 30, 1995, by the police and accused of collaborating with the MRTA. She was subsequently sentenced by a military court to life imprisonment (later reduced to twenty years by a civilian court).
Its last major action resulted in the 1997 Japanese embassy hostage crisis. In December 1996, fourteen MRTA members occupied the Japanese Ambassador's residence in Lima, holding 72 hostages for more than four months. Under orders from then-President Alberto Fujimori, armed forces stormed the residence in April 1997, rescuing all but one of the remaining hostages and killing all fourteen MRTA militants. Fujimori was publicly acclaimed for the decisive action, but the affair was later tainted by subsequent revelations that at least three and perhaps as many as eight of the Emerrtistas were summarily executed after surrendering. This operation was thought to have been supported by electronic intercept data from U.S. intelligence agencies.
In September 2003, four Chilean defendants were retried and convicted of membership in the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement and participation in an attack on the Peru–North American Cultural Institute and a kidnapping-cum-murder in 1993.
- Unlike Shining Path, and like other armed Latin American organizations with which it maintained ties, the MRTA claimed responsibility for its actions, its members used uniforms or other identifiers to differentiate themselves from the civilian population, it abstained from attacking the unarmed population and at some points showed signs of being open to peace negotiations. Nevertheless, MRTA also engaged in criminal acts; it resorted to assassinations, such as in the case of General Enrique López Albújar, the taking of hostages and the systematic practice of kidnapping, all crimes that violate not only personal liberty but the international humanitarian law that the MRTA claimed to respect. It is important to highlight that MRTA also assassinated dissidents within its own ranks.
- ^ La Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación. Final Report. "General Conclusions." Available online. Accessed February 3, 2007.
- ^ BBC News. "Peru Guerrilla Leader Convicted." March 22, 2006. Available online. Accessed February 3, 2007.