Home World Americas Dancer who hid Guzman walks out of jail

Dancer who hid Guzman walks out of jail

LIMA

A ballet dancer in Peru who was caught hiding the leader of the Shining Path in her apartment in 1992 was freed from prison after finishing her 25-year sentence on Monday.

Maritza Garrido Lecca, 52, emerged from a prison on the dusty outskirts of Lima smiling. As she stepped in a car, journalists shouted: “Do you regret it?”

Garrido Lecca is the latest in a wave of former militants to be freed, and their release has stirred fears of unrest.

Raised in an affluent Catholic home in Peru’s capital Lima, Garrido Lecca stunned Peru when authorities discovered the country’s most wanted man, Abimael Guzman, had been secretly living in the second story of her apartment above the studio where she taught ballet and modern dance.

Her story inspired the 2002 John Malkovich-directed film “The Dancer Upstairs” that depicted the kind of patient detective work that led to Guzman’s capture.

Guzman launched the Shining Path’s attempt to overthrow the state in 1980 in what would become one of Latin America’s deadliest internal conflicts.

An estimated 69,000 people were killed in the two-decade battle between state security forces and leftist insurgents. The majority of victims were the poor indigenous peasants whom Guzman hoped would embrace his plans for an armed rebellion.

Residents of Lima’s upscale neighbourhood Miraflores waved Peruvian flags in protest as they waited for Garrido Lecca to arrive at her elderly mother’s apartment building.

“The Shining Path and terrorism are our enemy and we’ll be vigilant about combating them,” Justice Minister Marisol Perez told journalists ahead of Garrido Lecca’s release.

While the Shining Path is no longer a threat to the Peruvian state and the group’s political arm, Movadef, has been blocked from forming a party, authorities say former members are fanning conflicts and winning support among young people.

Reuters