Peru rebels regrouping in nearby nations
SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia — Peru’s Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA), which made international headlines with the December 1996 seizure of the Japanese Embassy in Lima, is regrouping in Boliviaandotherneighboringcountries, according to a Peruvian intelligence reports cited in the local press.
“Surviving MRTA cadres have installed themselves outside the country.Twoimportantcellshaveestablished themselves in Bolivia and Chile, countries which have been usedassupportbasesfortheirlegal, political and military objectives,” accordingtoPeru’slargestnewspaper ElComercio,whichlastmonthcited national police reports.
Warnings of an MRTA reactivation follow a security crackdown in Peru’s jungle regions to counter a resurgence of guerrillas from another rebel group, the Shining Path.
Bothgroupswerehighlyactivein the 1980s and 1990s. While Shining Path was a largely rural-based insurgent movement, MRTA focused primarily on high-profile targets in urban areas.
MRTA leader Nestor Cerpa and 14 comrades were killed when U.S.trained Peruvian commandos stormed the Japanese Embassy in April 1997 to free 72 hostages, including a number of foreign ambassadors and top government officials who had been held for several months.
The Peruvian government recently asked for the extradition of severalMRTAmemberswhoarereported to be in Bolivia, where the grouphasits“mainbase,”according totheBoliviannewspaperLaRazon.
TheyincludeJulioCesarVasquez, who has arranged joint terrorist training with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and is now thought to be operating in Cochabamba.
MRTA has maintained close ties with radical Indian movements, whichhaverecentlygainedpolitical influence.
Bolivia Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera was a chief ideologue of the Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army, anMRTAoffshootthatcarriedouta series of terrorist attacks during the 1990s, opposition lawmakers say.
Opposition lawmakers also say that a prominent aid to leftist PresidentEvoMoraleshashadlinkswith extremist organizations in Peru.
“In the past these groups have operated in Bolivia, so we cannot discard anything. But the information is sensitive and we have to evaluate and investigate it,” said Juan Carlos Saa, chief inspector of Bolivia’s police.