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Peruvian-Americans rally for peace, release of hostages

December 23, 1996

MIAMI (AP) _ As a pair of white doves circled above, Peruvian-Americans rallied Sunday for the release of 340 hostages who have been held by a rebel group for five days in their homeland.

About 200 people turned out at a suburban Miami courtyard for the rally organized by the Peruvian consulate as the hostage crisis in Lima, Peru, entered its fifth day.

Rally organizers released two white doves that flew in circles around Peru Plaza. The crowd sang Peru’s national anthem and listened as the Rev. Enrique Delgado celebrated a Mass.

Some people in the crowd waved Spanish-language signs that read, ``Hostages! Miami is with you,″ and ``No more damage to Peru.″

The consulate estimates that 40,000 Peruvians live in southern Florida, and rally participants said they had various stakes in the crisis.

Victor Ruiz Desomocurcio, an attache, said he knows all the Peruvian diplomats who are hostages. ``We are all united in this,″ he said.

Most of the south Florida Peruvian community backs Peru President Alberto Fujimori’s response, said Enrique Chauca, president of the Peruvian Professional Association.

``What Peruvians want is peace at last,″ said Chauca. ``We pray that this will be the last act of terrorism. We Peruvians are peaceful people.″

Victor Passalacqua, a Peruvian-born Canadian who operates a Miami travel agency, said that since the hostages were seized Tuesday, 16 tour groups have put on hold their plans to travel to Peru.

``Now everybody knows there’s no guarantees in Peru,″ said Passalacqua.

Yazmin Reategui, a Peruvian who lives in the Miami area, said she attended the rally out of sympathy.

``It’s very bad,″ she said. ``Politically, economically and socially, it’s a very bad situation.″

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