Peru president accepts war museum, German donation

LIMA, Peru (AP) — After enduring weeks of criticism, President Alan Garcia reversed course Tuesday and accepted a donation from Germany for a museum honoring those killed in Peru's 20-year armed conflict with Moaist Shining Path guerrillas.

Garcia's about-face came at the behest of prominent Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, who met personally with Garcia in the government palace last week to lobby for the project, dubbed the "Memory Museum." Nearly 70,000 people were killed in the conflict.

The government announced Tuesday that Vargas Llosa will head a committee charged with managing the design and construction of the museum with cooperation from Germany.

Reports of Garcia's initial refusal to accept Germany's offer surfaced in February, sparking criticism from a wide spectrum of human rights activists, labor groups and intellectuals.

Much of the criticism centered on Garcia's checkered human rights record during his disastrous first term in the 1980s. A government-appointed Truth Commission found Garcia politically — though not criminally — responsible for several military atrocities during that period.

Peru was initially offered the $2.2 million donation by a German government official who visited a chilling photo exhibit chronicling the armed conflict that ravaged Peru in the 1980s and early 1990s.

The Shining Path guerrillas nearly brought the government to its knees during the conflict, but it faded after the capture of rebel leader Abimael Guzman in 1992.

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