Peru Election 2006

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The Unreconstructed Fujimorismo of Martha Chávez

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Maxwell A. Cameron
January 24, 2006

Martha Chávez, presidential candidate for Alianza por el Futuro, met this morning with the Association of the Foreign Press in Peru (Asociación de Prensa Extranjera en el Perú). Following a brief exposition, she held a conversation with about a dozen journalists in which she spoke about her candidacy, the role of Alberto Fujimori in the campaign, and the challenges facing any future government she might lead.

Chávez indicated that, should she be elected president, she would complete her term; she would not govern only to convene elections after a short period to enable Fujimori to run. While she indicated that Fujimori would be consulted, and that he would be an important source of support for the government, she stressed that Fujimori would not be an element of perturbation of the political system. After all, his resignation in 2000 was precisely to avoid the possibility that his leadership would be an obstacle to order and progress.
Asked about the presence of Fujimori in the campaign, Chávez said that Fujimori will have a powerful spiritual and political presence in the campaign. He has been inappropriately impeded from running, in her view, and hence his direct involvement is restricted. From his prison cell in Chile, Fujimori is allowed to have visits but he cannot, for example, be taped or photographed, nor can he issue public statements.
Although Chávez would not presume to speak on behalf of Fujimori, the overall strategy being pursued was designed in consultation with the former leader when he was still in Japan during meetings in October of last year. Among the things that were discussed at that time was the possibility of her candidacy as an alternative to Fujimori, should he be unable to run.
Other options discussed included returning to Peru either to enter clandestinity or to face charges. The latter was dismissed on the basis of the lack of security and due process—Fujimori would not accept sharing a jail with terrorists and drug traffickers. Chile, on the other hand, was chosen as a country that is close to Peru not only in terms of geography, but also because it shares the same language and culture as Peru.
Chávez also noted the possibility that Fujimori’s legal status might change. She said it would be an immense moral and political victory should Fujimori to be found not extraditable. He would also be free to participate in the campaign via videos or written statements.
Regarding how many seats the Fujimoristas might win, Chávez insisted that she is going to be the president and it is impossible to govern without a majority or at least two major blocs in the congress. The current state of public disapproval of congress reflects repudiation of the political mercantilism that occurs when there is not a clear majority in the legislature.
Chávez marked the differences between herself and nationalist candidate Ollanta Humala. Fujimori was a candidate who opposed the traditional political class, which had proven unable to overcome the challenges facing Peru. Humala wants to be an outsider, an anti-system candidate who is not part of the traditional political class, and who rejects association with the established tendencies in Peruvian politics. Chávez acknowledged that Humala seeks to occupy Fujimori’s political space as an outsider, but she insisted that Fujimorismo does not form part of the traditional political class. The two governments led by Alberto Fujimori were efficient and left a positive legacy. This facilitates campaigning, as it is unnecessary to build an image. Moreover, people can compare what they had under Fujimori with their abandonment today.
Chávez lamented that violence has become a problem on the campaign trail. Recalling that she nearly lost an eye in a confrontation in April 2000, she said she has experienced regrettable acts of hostility on the campaign trail, as have Susana Villaran and Lourdes Flores Nano.
She characterized Flores Nano as someone surrounded by people who have been in power and who offer only more of the same. Humala represents a dangerous risk that must be exposed. He is authoritarian and critical in a sterile manner, and she characterized some of his policies—such as a proposal for a tax on cell phones—as frivolous and exclusionary. APRA, she said, people remember.
Should she be elected, Chávez would govern in a way that would pick up important threads that were left by the resignation of Fujimori in 2000. Santiago Fujimori would be placed in charge of reforming the state. Errors made in the privatization process would not be repeated. An emphasis would be placed on national security, given the reappearance of the Shining Path and the growth of drug trafficking in recent years. With positive prices for mineral exports, much more could be done to satisfy basic needs that the Toledo government has left unattended. The 1993 constitution would be respected, and there would be no talk of constitutional reform. Improvements would be made in the administration of justice, and efforts would be undertaken to capitalize on opportunities provided by globalization, including free trade and opening toward the Pacific Rim.
Asked about corruption and the shadow cast by Vladimiro Montesinos, Chávez said Fujimoristas were victims of corruption. A parallel network of mafiosos was constructed along side the Fujimori government. Fujimori’s decision to end his own mandate was not due to the opposition but because the president realized, too late, that he had to end this corrupt parallel network. Had Fujimori been personally compromised by this corruption his actions in government would have been different. He would not have fought the war on terrorism as effectively, and he would have pursued war with Ecuador, since these conflicts opened the doors the corruption through commissions earned in the purchases of arms.
The corruption of Montesinos has been exposed and graphically documented. But should one open the bank accounts for governments in the 1970s and 1980s one would find lots of evidence of corruption. Regarding the authoritarianism of the Fujimori period, Chávez said Peruvians want authority, but not arbitrariness. In a thinly-veiled swipe at Toledo, she said the president, in the first instance, and congress, in the second, should lead by setting an example of hard work.
Comments and Reactions
According to Chávez, the Fujimoristas were victims of corruption, not perpetrators. In her view, Fujimori deserves credit for the successes of his government in combating terrorism, while Montesinos is blamed for creating the parallel network of corruption that brought the government down. Fujimori is implicitly criticized only for failing to understand what Montesinos was doing until it was too late—at which point he acted selflessly by resigning.
Leaving aside the fact that Montesinos claims he operated at the behest of the president, and that there is substantial evidence to suppose this to be largely true, at a minimum the growth of Montesinos’ power went in tandem with decisions taken by Fujimori—always in consultation with Montesinos—to weaken and coopt institutions of accountability that are essential to ensuring that those who rule cannot abuse their power. These included placing Montesinos in charge of a strategy of expanding the power of the intelligence service within the armed forces, the 1992 autogolpe, rewriting the constitution, the military amnesty of 1995, the destruction of the constitutional tribunal (in which Chávez played a prominent role), and the cooptation of judges and electoral authorities which opened the door to the fateful bid for re-election in 2000.
The idea that the resignation of Fujimori was a self-sacrificing decision in the public interest is one interpretation. Another view is that Fujimori could not remove Montesinos without resigning because Montesinos’ power rivaled his own, in part because Montesinos had blackmail power of Fujimori. Chávez is right that the decision was not imposed by the opposition, but the regime collapsed from within because it could not function without Montesinos.
Unapologetic and unrepentant, Martha Chávez would, it appears, offer the electorate an unreconstructed version of Fujimorismo.

Written by Michael Ha

January 24th, 2006 at 10:18 am

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