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Thursday, 2 November, 2000, 19:45 GMT
Bid to end Peru rebellion peacefully
Peruvian soldiers
Peruvian troops are searching for the rebel group
The Peruvian human rights ombudsman has flown to the south of the country to try and end a military rebellion.

The ombudsman, Jorge Santistevan, will attempt to negotiate the surrender of a fugitive rebel officer who started an uprising at the weekend to demand the resignation of President Alberto Fujimori.

Mr Santistevan said that the military high command was seeking a peaceful end to the uprising, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Ollanta Humala.

Peaceful overtures

Speaking on Peruvian television, Mr Santistevan said he was seeking to "bring an end to this military adventure by Ollanta Humala based on the respect for the security and freedom of people".


The army has taken a decision that the end of the situation will be non-violent

Ombudsman Jorge Santistevan

"My message is not only to him but to his wife and brother. The Army has taken a decision that the end of the situation will be non-violent, and with full respect for the freedom and security and honour which is characteristic in the military world."

Mr Santistevan was travelling with the wife and brother of Colonel Humala.

Mixed messages

Colonel Humala has been sending mixed messages, saying he was willing to hold talks with President Fujimori and the military high command while urging fellow officers to join his revolt.


If we all band together, Mr Fujimori won't last another 24 hours

Colonel Humala
"There are officers, now, who no longer believe I'm a nut or a rebel without a cause," he was quoted as saying in a TV interview from his mountain hide-out. "I call on them to join me. If we all band together, Mr Fujimori won't last another 24 hours."

Colonel Humala staged the revolt to demand an end to Mr Fujimori's controversial presidency and the arrest of his former intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, who returned to Peru last week after seeking asylum in Panama.

Mr Montesinos fled Peru after being accused of trying to bribe an opposition MP to vote for the government. The scandal prompted Mr Fujimori to announce he was stepping down from power next year.
Former intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos
Vladimiro Montesinos: Back from exile

Colonel Humala was originally joined by about 50 soldiers, but most are reported to have deserted him. The army has sent hundreds of troops to capture him and his remaining group of supporters, estimated at seven, in the southern Andes of Peru.

However, there are reports that some 300 former soldiers were travelling in a convoy of lorries to join him, hailing him as a "true patriot".

Colonel Humala's mother says her son is being unfairly treated.

"Everyone is after my son as if he were a criminal, but they do not go after Montesinos. That is not fair. My son is protesting because he could no longer stand so much corruption. He is trying to clean up the Army's image. I am pleased about that because I am very patriotic," she told Peruvian television.

She said she was "worried about what may happen to my sons because their lives are in danger".

Public support

Colonel Humala's case has elicited considerable support among some sectors of the media and the public.


Rebel with a cause, fuelled by ethical and political right, Humala is the conscience of Peru

La Republica

The influential left-wing daily, La Republica, hailed him as "valiant and decisive, unlike most in Peru".

"Humala has put into practice the right of all Peruvians to refuse to obey a usurping power which is immoral and illegitimate," the daily said.

"Rebel with a cause, fuelled by ethical and political right, Humala is the conscience of Peru."

"Military defeat and geographical isolation will not detract from a great moral and political victory."

I salute the courageous, patriotic and unselfish action of commander Ollanta Humala

Letter in La Republica

La Republica's letter page was full of accolades for Colonel Humala. One correspondent praised him for risking his life in the "defence of the truth, liberty and justice". Another described his action as "constitutional insurgency against illegitimate power".

"I salute the courageous, patriotic and unselfish action of commander Ollanta Humala and his companions," wrote another correspondent.

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See also:

18 Sep 00 | Americas
Q & A: Fujimori resignation
24 Oct 00 | Americas
Q & A: What next for Peru ?
18 Sep 00 | Americas
The video that shocked Peru
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