Show caption Prime Minister Aníbal Torres speaks at the Congress of Peru, in Lima, Peru, March 2022. Photograph: Presidency of the Council of Ministers HANDOUT/EPA Peru Peruvian prime minister’s praise of Hitler sparks wave of protest Aníbal Torres said his words were misunderstood but offered to apologize in person to Israeli ambassador Asaf Ichilevich Dan Collyns in Lima @yachay_dc Thu 7 Apr 2022 23.26 BST Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share via Email
The Israeli embassy in Lima has led a wave of protest after Peru’s prime minister Aníbal Torres praised Adolf Hitler, on the grounds that the fascist dictator turned Germany into the “first economic power in the world”.
In a week in which the government of Pedro Castillo has been engulfed in a political crisis caused by rising fuel and fertiliser prices triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – and the president’s own blundering efforts to calm the unrest – Torres’ inopportune remark on Thursday drew opprobrium from all quarters.
“Regimes of death and terror cannot be a sign of progress,” read the Israeli embassy’s statement. “Hitler was responsible for the death of six million Jews, to praise him is an offense to the victims of that world tragedy.”
Speaking in Huancayo, the Andean town at the centre of the ongoing protests over soaring inflation, Torres praised the road-building initiatives of Hitler and the infrastructure-building example of Italy under wartime dictator Benito Mussolini.
“On one occasion Hitler visited the north of Italy, and Mussolini shows him a highway built from Milan to Brescia, Hitler saw this and went to his country and filled it with highways, airports and turned Germany into the first economic power in the world. We have to make an effort, make sacrifices to improve our roads,” he said.
The 79-year-old lawyer later said his remarks were misunderstood but offered to apologize in person to the Israeli ambassador, Asaf Ichilevich.
However, Peru’s Jewish Association said this was not the first time that Peruvian politicians had made such remarks. “The seriousness of these expressions do not merit explanations or half apologies.”
Lawmaker Ed Málaga, who lived in Germany for 21 years, wrote an open letter to Torres demanding he apologise to the German people. “The political crisis with this government has reached the point of no return,” said Málaga, of the centrist Morado party.
The German embassy in Lima said in a statement: “Adolf Hitler was a fascist and genocidal dictator, in whose name the worst war of all time was carried out from Germany and the genocide of six million Jews was committed.”
“Against this backdrop, Hitler is not the right reference as an example of any kind,” it added.