Guerrillas holding 74 hostages in the Japanese ambassador’s residence hoisted banners on the rooftop Saturday to tell Peru’s president the crisis would not end without dialogue.
“Mr. Fujimori, with pretentious statement and without dialogue there can never be a solution,” one sign said in Spanish, scrawled on a bedsheet and erected on the roof before dawn.
President Alberto Fujimori has refused to meet the Tupac Amaru rebels’ demands until all the hostages are freed. Initially he had refused to negotiate with the rebels, but sent in a Cabinet minister for a face-to-face meeting a week ago. The release of 20 hostages followed.
There was no sign of progress in talks Saturday.
A Japanese newspaper reported today that the rebels last month demanded $100 million in ransom from major Japanese companies for the release of businessmen, including senior officials, held in the compound.
Quoting several unidentified company officials, the Mainichi daily said the rebels lowered their demand to $30 million after the Japanese companies rejected the higher figure.
Friday was the first day since the crisis began Dec. 17 that Michel Minnig - the Red Cross official who has been a mediator between the government and the rebels - did not enter the residence.
Roman Catholic Archbishop Juan Luis Cipriani, also thought to have a substantial intermediary role, entered the building Saturday about 6 p.m. for the first time since Wednesday, the day of the last hostage release.
Accompanied by Minnig, he left about two hours later, apparently after celebrating Mass. Candle light could be seen in a second-story window and the hostages were heard singing religious songs. Cipriani left without making a statement.
Other banners read: “Peru today: 13 million in extreme poverty” and “Mothers, wives and children are also waiting for the liberty of our prisoners. Peace for all Peruvians.”
The Tupac Amaru seized more than 500 hostages when they stormed the ambassador’s residence during a cocktail party. They have released most of the captives gradually.