LIMA, Peru -- Leftist guerrillas holding 74 Peruvian and foreign officials hostage unfurled banners on the roof of the residence of the Japanese ambassador yesterday, calling on the Peruvian government to resume talks to resolve the 18-day standoff.
"Mr. Fujimori, with arrogant declarations and without dialogue, there will never be a solution," one of the banners said, addressing President Alberto Fujimori.
Another said: "Mothers, wives and children of our prisoners are also waiting for their freedom. Peace for all Peruvians." A third banner seemed to answer a speech Fujimori made two days ago, in which he said the poverty under which half of all Peruvians live did not begin with his administration but had existed for centuries.
"Today's Peru -- 13 million Peruvians in extreme poverty," it said. "Where is the progress?"
Talks between the rebels and the government's education minister, Domingo Palermo, opened Dec. 28 with the hope that they would lead to a peaceful end to the crisis. But negotiations collapsed after the rebels held an impromptu news conference Tuesday before television and news photographers who had been allowed to approach the residence.
Since then, Palermo has not returned for talks with the rebels, and the release of hostages has dwindled to a trickle, with none since Wednesday.
The electricity at the ambassador's residence, which the rebels seized Dec. 17, was restored Tuesday in an apparently conciliatory gesture by the government but was shut off again by Wednesday.
In a speech two days ago, Fujimori dismissed the rebels of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, who are holding the hostages, as "terrorists."
Government officials, signaling the extreme sensitivity that surrounds any potential concessions to end the siege, use the term "conversations" rather than "negotiations" to describe Palermo's talks with the rebels.
In the absence of direct contact with the government, with the telephone service shut off and the police keeping news organizations two blocks from the residence, the guerrillas resorted to the banners, hung at 4: 30 a.m., to get across their message.
They also hung their flag on the rooftop.
The 17 rebels inside the residence are demanding the liberation of more than 400 of their comrades who are being held in Peruvian jails, and an improvement in prison conditions.
Pub Date: 1/05/97