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National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 237

Edited by Peter Kornbluh and Jeremy Bigwood

Posted - December 10, 2007

For more information contact:
Peter Kornbluh/Jeremy Bigwood- 202/994-7116

Previous Archive Releases on Peru

"Montesinos: Blind Ambition"
The Peruvian Townsend Commission report and declassified U.S. documentation

Peru in "The Eye of the Storm"
Declassified U.S. documentation on human rights abuses and political violence

Shoot-Down in Peru
The secret U.S. debate over intelligence sharing in Peru and Colombia

"Fujimori's Rasputin"
The declassified files on Peru's former Intelligence Chief, Vladimiro Montesinos

Washington, DC, December 10, 2007 :  As disgraced former president Alberto Fujimori goes on trial in Lima, Peru, for human rights atrocities, the National Security Archive posted a declassified Defense Intelligence Agency cable tying him directly to the executions of unarmed rebels who had surrendered after the seizure of the residence of Japanese ambassador in 1997. “President Fujimori issued the order to ‘take no prisoners,’” states the secret “roger channel” intelligence cable. “Because of this even MRTA [Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement members] who were taken alive did not survive the rescue operation.”

The new DIA cable was released on the Archive Web site along with other declassified documents that shed light on human rights crimes under Fujimori’s government, his close ties to his intelligence chieftain, Vladimiro Montecinos, and the two cases for which the imprisoned former president is now being prosecuted: the death squad kidnapping and disappearance of nine students and one professor at La Cantuta University in July 1992, and the massacre of a group of 15 leftists and an eight-year-old child during a neighborhood community barbeque in Barrios Altos in November 1991.

The documents were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by analysts at the Archive’s Peru Documentation Project. The project has provided declassified evidence drawn from U.S. records to Peruvian human rights advocates and officials for over a decade.

“The prosecution of Alberto Fujimori is nothing less than a historic event in the history of the human rights movement in Latin America,” according to Peter Kornbluh, a senior analyst on Latin America at the Archive.  “It is a major step toward truth and justice in Peru and the Western Hemisphere.”


 l) Defense Intelligence Agency, Cable, [Deleted] Commando Execution of Two MRTA Hostage Takers and “Take No Prisoners” Order, June 10, 1997, Secret, 2 pp.

This DIA cable, classified SECRET and sent from Lima through a special “roger channel” to the Pentagon, ties President Alberto Fujimori to a specific human rights atrocity committed at the end of the siege of the Japanese Ambassador’s residence by MRTA guerrillas.  An intelligence source who appeared to have participated in the assault to retake the residence, stated that two rebels surrendered and were then summarily executed. According to the source, “The order to take no MRTA alive was given by President Alberto Fujimori. …because of this, even MRTA who were taken alive did not survive the rescue operation.” The document also describes the way Peruvian paramilitary commandos attempted to cover up the execution of the guerrillas. (Another source later reported that three rebels, two men and a woman, were executed after surrendering.)   

2) State Department, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, “Peru, Freefall,” July 31, 1997. Top Secret/Codeword, 2 pp.

In a classified report, State Department intelligence analysts summarize the dramatic decline of President Fujimori’s popular support in Peru.  The report describes Fujimori’s “murky” relationship to his top military and intelligence aides and states that they have “alienated most Peruvians with strong-arm measures.

3) U.S. Embassy Cable, [Excised] Comments on Fujimori, Montesinos, but not on Barrios Altos, January 22, 1993, Secret, 10 pp. (previously posted)

An undisclosed source describes the close and complicated relationship between President Fujimori and his top intelligence aide, Vladimiro Montesinos. The source notes that while Fujimori understands the importance of human rights, in practice he “is prepared to sacrifice principles to achieve a quick victory over terrorism.”  He is “absolutely committed to destroying Sendero Luminoso and the MRTA within his five year term and is prepared to countenance any methods that achieve that goal.”

4) US Embassy Cable, Systematic Human Rights Violations Under Fujimori: Ex-Army Officer Describes his Role in Assassinations, Letter Bombs, Rape and Torture, June 30, 1994, Secret, 29pp. (previously posted)

In one of the most “detailed accounts” of human rights violations ever transmitted by the U.S. Embassy, this cable describes the history of state-sponsored abuses from the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s in Peru, covering both the Garcia and Fujimori eras of power.  The source, an ex-Army officer, outlines the structure of the army and intelligence units who participated in atrocities such as torture, rape, and terrorism, as well as his personal involvement in human rights abuses. The summary includes detailed descriptions of the types of torture used by the military; their assassination targets; and the use of anti-bomb training assistance from the U.S. to create better bombs for assassination attempts.  "None of the source's statements on methods are new,” the Embassy political officer reports. “What was striking, not to say chilling, about his allegations - apart from his total lack of remorse - was his insistence that such violations were the norm, rather than excesses."

5) U.S. Embassy, Cable, Claimed Member of ‘Colina’ Describes Barrios Altos Executions, March 15, 1994, Secret, 11 pp. (previously posted)

The Embassy cables a highly classified summary of a report allegedly drafted by a member of the feared Peruvian death squad known as “La Colina.” The report details the creation, organization, leadership, training and atrocities committed by the death squad.  It includes some of its nick names such as “Special Intelligence Annihilation Group.” The cable contains a graphic account of how death squad members prepared for the Barrios Altos operation, which was authorized by President Fujimori’s top advisor, Vladimiro Montesinos.  The victims were lined up against a wall. “Using submachine guns with silencers, the shooting took 20 seconds,” according to the report. An eight-year old boy who witnessed the executions was then also shot.

6) U.S. Embassy Cable, Military Watcher on Army Attitudes to La Cantuta Disappearances, June 3, 1993. confidential. 2 pp. 

An embassy contact discusses with US officials the feeling among the Peruvian military that the Army Commander and President of the Joint Armed Force Command, General Nicolas Hermoza, should "take responsibility" for the La Cantuta massacre. The source claims that “senior and mid-grade officers acknowledge the existence of military hit squads” and believe that the operation at La Cantuta University, was “terribly planned and the details too widely known.” But the military reportedly feels that the death squad who carried out the attack should not be punished “just for killing terrorists.”  

7. U.S.  Embassy Cable, Reported Secret Annex to National Pacification/Human Rights Plan, August 23, 1990. Secret, 4 pp. 

Following the Fujimori government’s announcement of a “National Pacification/Human Rights Plan” in 1990, the US embassy reports that there is “an alleged secret” annex to the public plan. The secret plan calls for the military to take a greater role in security operations, and allows for the National Intelligence Service (SIN) to form new sub-committees to direct the “pacification” plan. The plan also alters the SIN’s charter to expand the power of the secret police. The cable goes on to question if the plan was actually put into effect by Fujimori, or whether it was just the product of a group of retired military officers close to Montesinos. They refer to reports that Fujimori may be trying to distance himself from Montesinos because of public exposure of his links to drug traffickers. Embassy officials conclude, however, that even if the secret plan did not receive Fujimori’s endorsement, it does in fact exist, and is held by a group of men who “at least one time had considerable influence and access to decision-making circles.”


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