Peru Election 2006

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Fujimori’s Luck Runs Out

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Maxwell A. Cameron
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September 25, 2007

The reedy sounds of Andean huaynos, folk dances from the highlands, echoed through the night air in the working class neighborhood of Barrios Altos, in Lima. A fund-raising chicken barbeque and dance was in full swing. It was November 3rd, 1991. With the money raised from the dance, the neighbors hoped to repair broken sewer pipes. Before 11 pm, a Jeep Cherokee and Mitsubischi truck pulled up to the curb, and seven men in hoods carrying machine guns with silencers got out and burst into the party.

Shocked, yet not suspecting their fate, the revelers obeyed orders to lie face down on the floor. One of the masked men turned up the volume on the stereo while the others began to shoot, starting with the women. When they were done, 19 people lay covered in blood on the floor, 15 were dead, including an 8 year-old child. As they left the scene of the shooting, the masked men fired into the balconies of the surrounding houses to discourage anyone who heard the cried of their neighbors from watching the getaway.
President Alberto Fujimori was angry that a child was killed during the covert operation, but he congratulated the operatives who were responsible for the job. This was one of the revelations made in testimony given to the Peruvian judge investigating Fujimori’s links to the Colina group, the paramilitary death squad responsible for the Barrios Altos massacre.
The former commander in chief of the armed forces, Nicolás Hermoza Ríos, also implicated Fujimori in the activities of the Colina group. He told the investigating judge that President Fujimori was aware that the same group kidnapped and killed 9 students and a professor in the Cantuta University. It strains credulity to think that these massacres, part of pattern of human rights abuses, occurred without the involvement of the president.
That is one reason Fujimori fled to Japan after his autocratic rule collapsed in 2000. He later decided to return to South America, via Chile, in the hopes of running for election in Peru’s 2006 elections, but was detained by the Chilean authorities. For almost two years he has been under house arrest awaiting the decision of Chile’s courts in response to a Peruvian request for extradition.
The decision of the Chilean Supreme Court to extradite Fujimori to Peru is cause for celebration. It is a good decision for Chile’s judiciary, and a landmark in international accountability for human rights crimes. Of 13 charges brought against the former president, 7 were upheld by a majority of the justices. The charges against Fujimori for the massacres at Barrios Altos and La Cantuta were upheld unanimously. This overturns an earlier decision by Chile’s courts, which was deeply flawed.
Like many Peruvians, I believe the decision to close congress, suspend the constitution, re-organize the judiciary, and rule by decree in April 5, 1992, was partly the consequence of the Barrios Altos massacre. Congress was willing to work with Fujimori to enact tough anti-terrorist legislation, but Fujimori knew that sooner or later he would be brought to justice unless he controlled the judiciary and weakened the legislature. He made sure military courts with no interest in justice conducted investigations into the activities of the Colina group, and then amnestied the few lower-level officers who were handed light sentences.
In power, Fujimori ensured that impunity reigned; out of power, he eluded justice fleeing from the law. Now, at last, he will be brought to justice. It is up to the Peruvian courts to see that he gets the sort of fair trial he never allowed his adversaries.

Written by Max

September 25th, 2007 at 10:46 pm

Posted in Fujimori

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