MONTEVIDEO – Hector Amodio Perez, a former Tupamaro guerrilla who returned to Uruguay to tell “his truth” after 42 years living under the name of Walter Correa in Spain, apparently did not expect the past to catch up with him, turning his trip home for vindication into a complex legal drama.
The legal storm hit on Aug. 7, when the nearly 80-year-old Amodio Perez, who was a founding member of the Tupamaros National Liberation Movement, or MLN-T, a guerrilla group that battled Uruguay’s constitutional governments starting in the early 1960s and was crushed by the military in 1972, arrived in Montevideo after four decades, traveling under his real name for the first time.
In a Hollywood-style saga, Amodio Perez’s stay, initially scheduled to last one day for the presentation of a memoir about the MLN-T, a guerrilla group whose members included former President Jose Mujica, ended up with him being banned from leaving the country and being dragged from court to court.
The reappearance of Amodio Perez, a “ghost” for most Uruguayans, who had not seen him since 1973, stirred strong reactions from MLN-T members for whom his name became synonymous with betrayal.
The military officers who dismantled the guerrilla group and took power in 1973, ruling for 12 years, cut a deal with Amodio Perez and granted him safe passage and a passport under a new name.
Amodio Perez left for Spain with his wife, Alicia Rey Morales, after providing information about the guerrilla group and politicians who had sought talks with the MLN-T.
“This is the first time I have had a chance to have my voice heard,” Amodio Perez said in a press conference at the same Montevideo hotel where he received a summons a short time later to appear in court for entering Uruguay using false documents.
Authorities decided not to prosecute him on the false documents charges.
Two lawsuits, however, were filed over Amodio Perez’s role in the detention and torture of people during the 1973-1985 military regime, keeping him in the country.
“In my case, (he) snitched on me in the street. They stopped me and took me captive. I spent almost 14 years in jail and was tortured,” former Tupamaro Carlos Martell recently told reporters when he went to court to testify about abuses and torture suffered by 28 people, allegedly as a result of Amodio Perez’s role in the repression.
Amodio Perez has told the courts that the MLN-T sentenced him to death and he was forced to use a false identity and keep it for all these years.
Among the witnesses summoned to testify in recent weeks have been Mujica and former Tupamaro leader and current Defense Minister Eleuterio Fernandez, both of whom spent years in prison under harsh conditions during the military regime.
A few days ago, Mujica told a digital news outlet that he “didn’t care” much about Amodio Perez since he is not fond “of giving life to the dead.”
Amodio Perez’s attorney, Andres Ojeda, told EFE that his client did not expect his current predicament and had asked the courts to drop all charges, since there is no proof any crime was committed and if any could be proved, the offense would fall under the statute of limitations or a 1985 amnesty law.
Amodio Perez is awaiting a decision on whether he will be indicted and put on trial.