Question: Are there, or have there been, talks with the Peruvian government regarding a possible political solution to the situation of the political prisoners, as was the case with the Shining Path and their peace accord with the regime?
Isaac Velazco: The peace accord between the Shining Path and the dictator Fujimori only served to win some privileges for their so-called President Gonzalo, like access to information, an open cell, visits from his wife, and even birthday cakes from the dictator himself, something which served the dictator nicely, a nice form of psycho-social politics which allowed him to portray himself to the people as the victor over subversion. The MRTA has always been open to finding total solutions to the economic, social, and political problems which affect the Peruvian people, because we are part of this people which is being brutalized by a brutal neo-liberal and state terrorist aggression. We will never betray the hope of our people for honor, freedom, and a just tomorrow in return for crumbs from the dictator. We see clearly that the freedom and honor of a people cannot be begged for, rather there must be a direct struggle against the oppressors, both internal and external.
Question: What are your comments on the talks between the American authorities and Alejandro Toledo about the case of Lori Berenson?
Isaac Velazco: If there have been talks between Mr. Toldeo and the Americans, then you'd have to ask them about it. The case of journalist Lori Berenson, who was accused of being a member of our organization, is another example of the lack of human rights in Peru, the lack of an independent judiciary, and the absolute lack of due legal process and the right to a defense in trial. Lori Berenson was sentenced to life in prison, simply because she refused to accept the government's dirty offer to sign a document which characterized the MRTA as a terrorist organization. Journalist Danilo Quijano was given the same demand on the day he was to be released from prison. The dictator's officials brought him a paper which said the MRTA was a terrorist organization. When he refused to sign it, he was put back in prison and was only set free months later following national and international pressure.
Human values have a price. Some people don't regard these highly, but other people do, and these people face repression, exile, and the loss of their freedom or their lives. But they never lose their honor.
Question: During its entire time in power, the Fujimori regime has always preached that the MRTA has been defeated. Is that correct?
Isaac Velazco: The main aim of the psycho-politics is, on the one hand, to paralyze our people through fear, and, on the other hand, to make them give up all hope. To do this, the regime utilizes the mistakes and horror of the Shining Path to confuse armed struggle with terrorism, and to thereby make the people forget that they have a right to resist. The Fujimori regime's own Constitution states that the people have the right to rebel against an oppressive and exploitative government. We do not deny that we have suffered heavy blows in this unequal struggle, but defeat is another matter. We have been beaten down, but not overcome. The MRTA would like to stress that we have neither been defeated, nor have we surrendered. The struggle continues.
Question: What do you make of the statements by Mr. Hugo Avellaneda following the MRTA's occupation of the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima? Is he still a member of the MRTA?
Isaac Velazco: Statements from whom? The government? From the sensationalist media? Only Tupacamaristas can decide about the internal matters of the MRTA. No one else but them. The MRTA has a developed dynamic and an organizational procedure which is still functioning. New activists and leaders are always being trained. Who assumes the leadership within the MRTA? That is a matter which only concerns our organization. The government would like to think it knows who is leading our organization, thanks to information from traitors such as Cistero Garcia and Andris Mendoza del Aguila, but such info will be of little use to them today because the MRTA adapts its leadership structures to the hard conditions of the present struggle.
Question: Do the present conditions offer any chance of a dialogue with President Fujimori?
Isaac Velazco: A dialogue about what? The elections? The hard problems which the population are faced with? The flexibilization of labor? The low wages and pensions? The creation of jobs? The violation of human rights? No, dear journalists, is it inconceivable that after 10 years of authoritarianism and the constant violation of our basic rights to life and work that now, suddenly, the regime will create conditions for questions. There cannot be dialogue with a dictator whose only language is confrontation and state terrorism.
What can you tell us about the hungerstrike by Victor Polay
and Peter Cardenas Schultz?
Isaac Velazco: The comrades Victor, Peter, and Miguel have carried out two hungerstrikes, one from September 21 to October 22, 1999, and another from May 1-17, 2000. These were to demand an end to the brutal isolation conditions they are detained in beneath the Callao Marine Base. How can a democracy imprison citizens in a military prison? This prison brings back memories of the prisons in French Guayana in the early 20th century, an age when human rights meant nothing, when there was no Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Callao Marine Base reminds us of the French model in the early years of the 20th century. If you read the novel "Papillon", the form of the prison cells and the isolation conditions are similar: the aim was to break the will of individual and to physically break the individual, to make the prisoner a being with no will, one that can be controlled. This whole system has little to do with civilization or democracy. Rather it shows the inhumanity and insanity of the regime, and it highlights the lies of Western democracy, because the West knows all about these human rights violations, the high rison sentences which were issued at the order of a crazed dictator, the constant torture, and yet the West does nothing about it. But despite all that, the morale of our comrades remains intact, including their will to resist being "buried alive", even as their physical health quickly deteriorates as a result of this inhumane prison system.
Question: Has there been any reconciliation between the MRTA and the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso), or is your position towards them still one of rivalry?
Velazco: There can be no dialogue or understanding with those
who don't understand how to respect the differences among our people, and
who have proven themselves unable to resolve contradictions which arise
in the people, and who create needless antagonism through the tragic execution
of peasant and union leaders, members of popular organizations, and even
Tupac Amaru guerrillas, who were accused by them of reformism, revisionism,
or some other sectarian charge.
Sendero needs to correct its authoritarian and sectarian methods, which have brought it closer to neo-liberal fundamentalism than to any alternative for the people, and to make this change open and effective, so that people can believe in them, since for years they have been idiots utilized towards the ends of the neo-liberal authoritarianism and the Fujimori dictatorship.
Question: How do you explain the fact that parts of the Left, which previously characterized the USA as ultra-neo-liberal, imperialist, and oppressive towards the popular classes, now demand American intervention to solve the election problems in Peru?
Isaac Velazco: At the present time, since the socialist camp has collapsed, the traditional Left has lost its head and is confusing he ideological North, which motivated its rebellion in its younger years, with the geographical North, the USA, and is believing the big lies which are spread with the help of sell-out intellectuals, namely that the USA is a fighter for freedom and democracy. These peoples should ask the Blacks or the Native Americans or the millions of Latin American immigrants who live in the USA whether there is really democracy and freedom there. On the other hand: what Left are we talking about? Recently, the concept has changed quite a bit. When you look at the virtual reality in many countries in Europe, for example, which are governed by leftist or center-left coalitions, this differs greatly from the objective reality. We have to realize that neo-liberal policies are in fundamental contradiction to a leftist concept, which is by definition anti-capitalist and anti-neo-liberal. It seems the institutional Left here gave up politically and ideologically since the lesser evil Fujimori was elected in 1990, and they never tried to recognize the undamental differences between the Shining Path and the MRTA, for fear of being seen as pro-terrorist. And since the legalization of the dictatorship they have taken part in elections and accepted the so-called democratic Constitution, and their silence has allowed the egime's violation of human rights to continue. They are unable to wage resistance or to reorganize the workers and popular movements into politically independent class force. This means we need a new formation of the Left in Peru. We are speaking of the institutional Left, which lacks creativity and which lacks an alternative to he neo-liberal model. But that doesn't mean that there aren't sectors of the revolutionary left among our people, the revolutionary left of which we are a part and which we work together with to move forwards and build up a broad political mass front as the bud of a new people's power, one which will shake off the fundamentals of the neo-liberal system. These are times of change. The broken and strewn body of Tupac Amaru is screaming from the four regions of the world for an integration, a unity with the head, for only then can we bring about the liberation of our people.
Question: Will the MRTA be reborn?
Isaac Velazco: Personally, I don't believe in a rebirth or a rejuvenation, but if there is one, the MRTA would first have to die before it can be reborn, but despite all the propaganda by the dictator Fujimori, the MRTA is alive and continues to do politics all across the country. The fact that we haven't carried out any major armed actions does not mean that we are dead, rather it means we realize that now is not the time for major military actions, rather for the development and strengthening of the organization and the consciousness of our people, in order to gather out strengths to finally bring down the dictatorship. The proposals of the MRTA are an expression of the will for unity and change, which are what our people demand. Since the murder of our brothers and sisters in the Japanese ambassador's residence, we have concentrated on strengthening the autonomous base organizations. We want to mobilize and strengthen and broaden the struggle against the dictatorship, to make unity the fundamental element to defeat the neo-liberal model,since no one organization alone can bring an end to this brutal enemy without the aid of other organizations.
(Source: Voz Rebelde
Translated by Arm The Spirit)
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