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March, 1997

In December of 1996, members of the MRTA (Revolutionary Movement of the Tupac Amaru) stormed the residence of the Japanese ambassador in Lima, Peru.

Though possibly warned, the Peruvian government was not at all prepared for the attack.  The guerillas successfully took over the compound, taking hundreds of important diplomats as hostages.

The guerillas eventually let hostages go, but could not reach an agreement during negotiations with the Peruvian government.  They had demanded the release of their friends, many jailed for political crimes, but Fujimori, Peru's President, would not agree.

The Tupac Amaru are a Marxist guerilla movement who fight against the Peruvian government.  There are massive numbers of homeless and starving people in Peru, a country whose government continues making massive defense expenditures while neglecting urgent needs for social reform.

The Cuban Revolution serves as the inspiration for the Tupac Amaru.  Members of the MRTA idolize Che Guevara, a Cuban revolutionary who, after helping to overthrow Batista, took the revolution to other countries.

By March, the guerillas had only 72 hostages remaining.  Negotiations were occasionally looking promising, but no solution had been reached.

Fujimori visited Cuba to meet with Cuban President Fidel Castro.  Though they have severe ideological differences, the two are friends.

Castro told Fujimori he was willing to give asylum to the Tupac Amaru guerillas in the ambassador's residence.  Fujimori had expressed interest in this plan.  The hostage-takers had previously stated they intended to stay in Peru.

However, the issue of releasing their imprisoned friends proved too important for the Tupac Amaru guerillas to let go.  No agreement was ever reached.

Eventually, Fujimori ordered a government raid on the compound.  All fourteen guerillas, mainly children and two young girls, were killed during and shortly after the attack.  All but one prisoner and two soldiers survived.  Fujimori stated, "I am very sorry for the loss of three human lives."

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