This was the Sixth biennial meeting of SITDEF in Lima, Peru. SITDEF occurs every two years and has since the start of the show. The show has grown exponentially each time, and in 2015 there were approximately 40,000 visitors, mostly from South American countries, with official delegations from over 30 countries. More than 429 representatives of armed forces were in official attendance, with thousands more active-duty personnel as well.
SADJ is a regular at this show. The Peruvian military groups have diverse needs from high-mountain terrain to their long ocean coast; so the needs of the customers tend to draw a lot of interesting vendors and attendees.
The Japanese Embassy Hostage Crisis (Operation Chavín de Huantar)
On 17 December 1996, 14 members of the revolutionary group MRTA raided a party at the Japanese Ambassador to Peru’s residence (not the embassy) and took hundreds of diplomats, military and government officials as their hostages. They demanded freedom for some of their guerilla comrades imprisoned for criminal acts, as well as social changes and some other things. This event propelled the MRTA and their attack to the forefront of the world media. For 126 days, the MRTA held a group of very important people hostage, having released many they did not feel were “useful” to their cause early on in the crisis.
On 22 April 1997 special teams totaling 140 Peruvian Commandos executed a well-planned attack on the residence and freed the hostages. One hostage died, two commandos died, and all of the MRTA militants were killed. This event is hailed as a very successful operation by the Peruvian Special Forces and is commemorated by the display at SITDEF.
Weapons and other items captured from the MRTA guerillas were on display at SITDEF, and SADJ thought that a close look at the weapons might be enlightening. Rumor has it that the Special Forces used the brand new—at the time—FN P90 during the raid, but no evidence can be found of that.