A former Peruvian military officer who led a failed 2005 uprising has been released from prison, following a surprise announcement that his 19-year sentence had been reduced.
A lawyer for Antauro Humala, the leader of Peru’s Ethnocacerist nationalist movement, which seeks to put the country’s disenfranchised Indigenous peoples in power, quickly hinted at a return to politics upon the release on Saturday.
Speaking to supporters who chanted “President Antauro”, he praised the 2005 uprising, in which he and his supporters attacked a police station in the Andean city of Andahuaylas in an attempt to force the resignation of then-President Alejandro Toledo. Six people, including four police officers, were killed in a days-long standoff at the station.
“Now we are obviously outside and I can tell you that we all feel very proud of what we did in [our rebellion in] Andahuaylas,” said Humala.
Antauro Humala and his brother, Ollanta Humala, also led a smaller rebellion in 2000 against then-President Alberto Fujimori, who was later convicted of ordering massacres during Peru’s two-decade civil war.
Ollanta Humala went on to become Peru’s president from 2011 to 2016, but governed as a centrist at odds with his brother’s ideology and repeatedly refused to pardon him.
Humala’s Ethnocacerist movement combines obeisance to the ancient Inca empire with an anti-colonial movement, but has been accused of having xenophobic and totalitarian aims.
As a candidate, current left-wing President Pedro Castillo had spoken positively of Humala and raised the possibility of pardoning him but fell silent on the subject after taking office in 2021.
Peru’s prison authority said Humala had been released one year and seven months early due to his time spent dedicated to work and education. It maintained the decision was made independently from the presidency.
Following his release, Humala’s lawyer, Carmen Huidobro, said “it is possible that [Antauro] will resume political life, it is likely that he will run for some office”.
Speaking to supporters outside the prison in Peru’s capital Lima, Humala asked his supporters for “time to think again of all [that] has happened in these 18 years”.