After Twice Praising Hitler, an Apology From Peru's PM

Anibal Torres' comment comes amid a political crisis
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2022 8:21 AM CDT
Peru's PM Apologizes for Praise of Hitler
Peru's President Pedro Castillo, white shirt, walks alongside Prime Minister Anibal Torres, second left, and members of his cabinet outside the government palace in Lima, Peru, on March 8, 2022.   (AP Photo/Martin Mejia, File)

Peru's prime minster has apologized for his praise of Adolf Hitler—the latest blow to a government already facing a political crisis over soaring inflation and corruption allegations. Anibal Torres, 79, had been speaking in a cabinet session in the Junín capital of Huancayo, the site of ongoing protests, Thursday when he said it was necessary to "make sacrifices to improve our roads," per the Guardian. He claimed Adolf Hitler had been inspired to build infrastructure in Germany after a visit to Italy, where Benito Mussolini showed him highway projects underway. "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," Torres said.

The comment "drew opprobrium from all quarters," per the Guardian. "Regimes of death and terror cannot be a sign of progress," said the Israeli embassy in Lima, which viewed the comment as an offense to all victims of the Holocaust. "Hitler is not the appropriate reference as an example of any kind," added the German embassy, per the Washington Post. Jack Falkon of the Jewish Association of Peru, which represents about 2,300 people, wondered why Torres chose to mention Hitler as a role model rather than "the Incas and their huge road network," per Infobae, while local historians pointed out that Germany's first highway projects were in fact underway before Hitler's rise to power.

Torres also said Hitler "turned Germany into a world power" last month while comparing the Nazi leader to former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, who was convicted of human rights crimes and corruption. "But [Hitler] was condemned not only by the Germans afterwards, but all over the world, for the great crimes he committed," Torres added, per Infobae. He seemed to refer to that comment when apologizing to Israel's ambassador to Peru, Asaf Ichilevich, later Thursday. "If you think I have offended you, I apologize." But "I am not taking Hitler as an example to follow, because I have also said that he was a great criminal," he said. "My family is connected to Jews … So you don't have to worry, Mr. Ambassador," he added, per the Post. (Read more Peru stories.)

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