Facts About Peru
Background: Ancient Peru was the seat of several prominent Andean civilizations, most notably that of the Incas whose empire was captured by the Spanish conquistadores in 1533. Peruvian independence was declared in 1821, and remaining Spanish forces defeated in 1824. After a dozen years of military rule, Peru returned to democratic leadership in 1980, but experienced economic problems and the growth of a violent insurgency. President Alberto FUJIMORI’s election in 1990 ushered in a decade that saw a dramatic turnaround in the economy and significant progress in curtailing guerrilla activity. Nevertheless, the president’s increasing reliance on authoritarian measures and an economic slump in the late 1990s generated mounting dissatisfaction with his regime. FUJIMORI won reelection to a third term in the spring of 2000, but international pressure and corruption scandals caused him to resign in November of that year. A caretaker government oversaw new elections in the spring of 2001, which ushered in Alejandro TOLEDO as the new head of government.
Government type: constitutional republic
Currency: 1 nuevo sol (S/.) = 100 centimos
Geography of Peru
Location: Western South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Chile and Ecuador
Geographic coordinates: 10 00 S, 76 00 W
Map references: South America
total: 1,285,220 sq km
land: 1.28 million sq km
water: 5,220 sq km
total: 5,536 km
border countries: Bolivia 900 km, Brazil 1,560 km, Chile 160 km, Colombia 1,496 km (est.), Ecuador 1,420 km
Coastline: 2,414 km
continental shelf: 200 nm
territorial sea: 200 nm
Climate: varies from tropical in east to dry desert in west; temperate to frigid in Andes
Terrain: western coastal plain (costa), high and rugged Andes in center (sierra), eastern lowland jungle of Amazon Basin (selva)
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Nevado Huascaran 6,768 m
Natural resources: copper, silver, gold, petroleum, timber, fish, iron ore, coal, phosphate, potash, hydropower
arable land: 3%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 21%
forests and woodland: 66%
other: 10% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 12,800 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, landslides, mild volcanic activity
Environment – current issues: deforestation (some the result of illegal logging); overgrazing of the slopes of the costa and sierra leading to soil erosion; desertification; air pollution in Lima; pollution of rivers and coastal waters from municipal and mining wastes.
Environment – international agreements:
party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography – note: shares control of Lago Titicaca, world’s highest navigable lake, with Bolivia; remote Lake McIntyre is the ultimate source of the Amazon River
People of Peru
Most Peruvians are “mestizo,” a term that usually refers to a mixture of Amerindians and Peruvians of European descent. Peruvians of European descent make up about 15% of the population; there also are smaller numbers of persons of African, Japanese, and Chinese descent. In the past decade, Peruvians of Asian heritage have made significant advancements in business and political fields; a past president, several past cabinet members, and several members of the Peruvian congress are of Japanese or Chinese descent. Socioeconomic and cultural indicators are increasingly important as identifiers. For example, Peruvians of Amerindian descent who have adopted aspects of Hispanic culture also are considered “mestizo.” With economic development, access to education, intermarriage, and largescale migration from rural to urban areas, a more homogeneous national culture is developing, mainly along the relatively more prosperous coast.
Peru has two official languages–Spanish and the foremost indigenous language, Quechua. Spanish is used by the government and the media and in education and commerce. Amerindians who live in the Andean highlands speak Quechua and Aymara and are ethnically distinct from the diverse indigenous groups who live on the eastern side of the Andes and in the tropical lowlands adjacent to the Amazon basin.
Peru’s distinct geographical regions are mirrored in a socioeconomic divide between the coast’s mestizo-Hispanic culture and the more diverse, traditional Andean cultures of the mountains and highlands. The indigenous populations east of the Andes speak various languages and dialects. Some of these groups still adhere to traditional customs, while others have been almost completely assimilated into the mestizo-Hispanic culture.
Under the 1993 constitution, primary education is free and compulsory. The system is highly centralized, with the Ministry of Education appointing all public school teachers. Eighty-three percent of Peru’s students attend public schools at all levels.
The relationship between Hispanic and Indian cultures has shaped the face of Peru. During pre-Columbian times, Peru was one of the major centers of artistic expression in America, where pre-Inca cultures, such as Chavin, Paracas, Wari, Nazca, Chimu, and Tiahuanaco developed high-quality pottery, textiles, jewelry, and sculpture. Drawing upon earlier cultures, the Incas continued to maintain these crafts but made even more impressive achievements in architecture. The mountain town of Machu Picchu and the buildings at Cuzco are excellent examples of Inca architectural design.
Population: 27,925,628 (July 2005 est.)
0-14 years: 34.41%
15-64 years: 60.8%
65 years and over: 4.79%
Population growth rate: 1.7%
Birth rate: 23.9 births/1,000 population
Death rate: 5.78 deaths/1,000 population
Net migration rate: -1.08 migrant(s)/1,000 population
Infant mortality rate: 39.39 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.3 years
male: 67.9 years
female: 72.81 years
Total fertility rate: 2.96 children born/woman
Ethnic groups: Amerindian 45%, mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 37%, white 15%, black, Japanese, Chinese, and other 3%
Religions: Roman Catholic 90%
Languages: Spanish (official), Quechua (official), Aymara
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 88.7%
female: 83% (1995 est.)
History Of Peru
ONCE THE CENTER of the powerful and fabulously wealthy Inca Empire, Peru in the early 1990s was an impoverished, crisis-prone country trying to cope with major societal, economic, and political changes. The strong undercurrents propelling these changes flowed from what historian Peter F. Klarén describes as Peru’s historical “dualism”: a wide racial, socioeconomic, and political division between the small white criollo elite in Lima and the vast majority of the population, consisting of native Americans in the Andean interior and mestizos (those of mixed race), located mostly in the coastal cities. Until the 1980s, this dualism put Lima in sharp contrast to the native American interior. According to Klarén, however, this traditional dualism has been eroding both ethnically as a result of the increasing Andeanization of Lima and politically as a result of “the dispersion of power away from the traditional triumvirate of oligarchy, church, and armed forces.”
Anthropologist José Matos Mar has noted that by the early 1990s the process of integration of Peru’s native American population from the Andean highlands (Sierra) and jungle (Selva) regions had given Peru a new identity, one distinctly different from the traditionally dominant coast (Costa) culture of the Lima elites. Beginning in the mid-1970s, increasingly large numbers of highlanders began moving to Lima in search of work. This process was accelerated in the 1980s as mainly Quechua-speaking highlanders fled the growing violence of the Maoist-oriented Communist Party of Peru-Shining Path (Partido Comunista del Perú- Sendero Luminoso–PCP-SL, hereafter SL) and the army’s harsh counterinsurgency measures. For anthropologist Paul L. Doughty, the Andeanization of Lima exemplifies a “reconquest” of Peru by the long-exploited native highlanders. This reconquest, however, has been confined to demographics and sociopolitical identity; the traditional socioeconomic chasm has remained and even widened.
In the early 1990s, most of the former highlanders who had left the Andean countryside looking for a better life in Lima remained harshly marginalized. They survived in the capital’s informal sector, living precariously in squalid conditions in makeshift shacks in the sprawling urban barriadas, known as pueblos jóvenes, or “young towns,” on the hills that surround Lima. In mid-1992 at least 7 million people, or about one-third of the country’s 22.7 million inhabitants, lived in Lima, which is now largely mestizo and native American, reflecting the new national identity of mestizaje (miscegenation). Despite Lima’s Andeanization, the vast majority of the population still earns only a small percentage of the national income.
Thus, the dualism or marginality model of analysis remained valid in the early 1990s. Peru’s continuing dualism is symbolized by two prominent statues: the statue of Francisco Pizarro, the conqueror of the Incas and founder of Lima, in Lima’s Government Center and the thirty-five-meter-high statue of Pachakuteq (Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui) erected near Cusco (Quechua: “Qosqo”) in 1992. The economic elites in Lima have identified more closely with the heritage of their Spanish ancestry, including the tradition of treating the proud but humble descendants of the remarkable native American civilizations of ancient Peru with the same racial stereotypes and arrogant contempt. Essentially, the great majority of Peruvians remained marginalized in a resource- rich but economically impoverished and racially divided nation. As described by Italian naturalist Antonio Raimondi in the 1850s, Peru was still basically “a beggar sitting on a gold bench.”
By 1990 Peru had changed far more significantly than many politicians in Lima realized as a result of the historic shift in its demographics and Lima’s racial composition; the almost total disaffection of Peruvians with their political institutions, indeed, with democracy itself because of endemic governmental corruption and incompetence, particularly during the administration of Alan García Pérez (president, 1985-90); and the gradual disintegration of the state. For the first time since the demographic collapse of the native American population in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the colonial subjugation of the country, Peru’s national identity was more autochthonous than extraneous. These trends, combined with the increasing class divisions and antipathy within Peru’s multiethnic society, created a ground swell in Peruvian politics and society that, ironically, propelled a politically unknown, second-generation Japanese-Peruvian (a nisei), Alberto Keinya Fujimori, to the presidency in July 1990.
Fujimori’s parents arrived in Peru from Japan in the early 1930s, just before the Peruvian government ended Japanese immigration out of concern that Japanese immigrants were too competitive. His father prospered as a shopkeeper until anti- Japanese riots erupted in Lima in 1940 and the government closed the family business. Although his parents remained Buddhists, they allowed their son to grow up as a Roman Catholic and to attend Roman Catholic schools. Fujimori graduated first in his class from the National Agrarian University (Universidad Nacional Agraria–UNA) in Lima in 1960. During his career as an agronomist and mathematics professor, Fujimori earned an M.A. in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in the early 1970s and served as UNA’s rector, as well as president of the national association of rectors, from 1984 to 1989. His hosting of a Lima television talk-show program on Peru’s socioeconomic problems apparently inspired him to make a mid-life career change. Fujimori entered the presidential and senatorial races simultaneously in 1990 as the independent candidate of the new Change ’90 (Cambio ’90) party, an eclectic alliance of Protestant evangelicals, small-business owners, peasants, and shantytown dwellers. Doing better than expected as a candidate for president, he soon found himself battling another political neophyte–renowned novelist Mario Vargas Llosa.
After becoming involved politically in August 1987, when he protested the announced plan by populist García to nationalize all financial institutions and insurance companies, Vargas Llosa found himself heading the new Liberty Movement (Movimiento de Libertad). Alarmed over the antidemocratic and socialist direction his country was taking at the end of its first decade of democracy, Vargas Llosa gave up his cherished literary solitude for the tumultuousness of a presidential campaign, even though he was still ambivalent about getting further involved politically. Instead of becoming an independent candidate like Fujimori, however, Vargas Llosa, whose Peruvian campaign consultants were all upper class, made the strategic blunder of joining the center-right alliance called the Democratic Front (Frente Democrático–Fredemo). Fredemo had been formed in 1987 by two of the traditional opposition parties–Popular Action (Acción Popular–AP), headed by former president Fernando Belaúnde Terry (1965-68, 1980-85); and the Popular Christian Party (Partido Popular Cristiano–PPC), headed by Luis Bedoya Reyes. Because both the AP and PPC were discredited as oligarchical in the eyes of most Peruvians, Vargas Llosa compromised his image as an outsider and an advocate of change by joining Fredemo.
The candidacies of Fujimori and Vargas Llosa increasingly reflected Peru’s widening socioeconomic and cultural divisions. The first electoral round, held in April 1990, showed that the electorate was polarizing between the large and rapidly growing poor majority, consisting of Spanish-speaking mestizos (constituting 37 percent of the population) and largely Quechua- speaking, native Americans (45 percent) on one hand, and the small minority of Caucasians (15 percent), the well-off criollo Peruvians, on the other. The criollo elite, which traditionally had held power, favored the patrician Vargas Llosa, culturally more European than Peruvian. Vargas Llosa’s popularity with the general public waned, however, as he began to be viewed as a protector of the traditional ruling class. In the first electoral round in April 1990, Fujimori came in second, only four points behind Vargas Llosa, who was still considered García’s most likely successor.
Vargas Llosa’s popularity soared when, exasperated by the bickering between his two party allies, he withdrew from Fredemo and went to Italy to accept a literary award. But the euphoria was short-lived. Peruvians felt betrayed when he rejoined Fredemo after the AP and PPC hastily reached an accord. His base of support in Lima, the center of political power, withered further as a result of his expensive and slick media blitz, which was culturally insensitive to Peru’s predominantly nonwhite population. In addition, his exhausting, United States-style campaign tour of Peru’s twenty-four departments aroused more curiosity than enthusiasm. Observers noted that Vargas Llosa talked above the heads of the voters and came across as too aloof, urbane, and privileged for the average Peruvian to be able to identify with him.
The two campaigns were worthy of an ironic political novel by Vargas Llosa himself. The agnostic, intellectual novelist found himself strongly supported by the Roman Catholic Church and, at least initially, the military. Tainted by his Fredemo alliance, however, he was widely seen by ordinary Peruvians as representative of the criollo upper classes of Lima. His fanciful comment during a debate with Fujimori about how he would like to make Peru “like Switzerland” only heightened a public perception that he was out of touch with Peruvian reality. At the same time, he may have been too realistic for many poor Peruvians alarmed by his economic “shock” program.
By contrast, Fujimori, a devout Roman Catholic, gained the fervent support of the small evangelical Protestant community and the mass of poor Peruvians (his own 100,000-member Japanese community was ambivalent, fearful of an ethnic backlash should his presidency be a failure). He forged a tacit alliance with the military but called the Roman Catholic Church “medieval and recalcitrant” for its opposition to birth control. As an independent antipolitician, a Japanese-Peruvian, and a native of Lima’s Barrios Altos, he was perceived as personifying not only change, but also the country’s polyglot reality. His Japanese ancestry proved to be an asset, not only because Peruvians claimed to admire Japan more than any other nation, but also because Fujimori held out the prospect of an efficient, Japanese- assisted solution to Peru’s problems. His advocacy of “work, honesty, and technology,” foreign investment to increase productivity, economic development, and an end to food subsidies to make farming more profitable had popular appeal. The masses began to see Fujimori as someone who favored more democracy, greater openness, and less politiquería (petty politics) and authoritarianism than Vargas Llosa offered as head of the old-style Fredemo.
Fujimori stunned Vargas Llosa, as well as Peru and the world, by decisively winning the June 1990 runoff election. He received 56.5 percent of the popular vote and carried twenty-three of Peru’s twenty-four departments. Vargas Llosa’s Fredemo collected only 33.9 percent of the vote.
Fujimori won the 1990 elections in large measure because his army of unpaid volunteers ran a grassroots campaign that garnered 70 percent of the vote in the working-class districts of Lima. Political economist Carol Graham notes that “The 1990 electoral results reflected a total dissatisfaction and lack of faith on the part of the populace in traditional politicians and parties.” Indeed, polls had revealed a general view that a decade of democracy had given Peruvians only corruption, ineptness, chaos, poverty, triple-digit inflation, disorder, hunger, and malnutrition. For example, a poll in June 1989 found that 96 percent of Peruvians had little or no confidence in the judicial process, and 75 percent thought that the National Congress was obstructing economic progress.
With Fujimori’s assumption of office on July 28, 1990 (Peru’s independence anniversary as well as Fujimori’s birthday), Peru was no longer governed with the backing of a major political party, a factor that gave Fujimori unprecedented independence. Adopting a pragmatic approach to governing, Fujimori refused to make the traditional deals with any political parties. Ignoring the advisers who helped to get him elected, he recruited others to help him govern. He consulted specialists with international prestige, such as Harvard-trained economist Juan Carlos Hurtado Miller, who was named minister of economy and finance, and economist Hernando de Soto, author of The Other Path, an acclaimed book on Peru’s informal economy, as well as relatively unknown figures of Asian origin.
Like a true politician, Fujimori then reversed a major campaign pledge by quickly adopting and implementing Vargas Llosa’s draconian, neoliberal, economic austerity program in an attempt to bring the country’s hyperinflation under control and reach an understanding with the international financial community. It was bitter medicine, but Peruvians accepted it stoically. Meanwhile, Fujimori’s approval rating plummeted to 31 percent in July 1991, according to a poll conducted by Apoyo, a Lima-based private market research company. “Fujishock” proved to be effective, however. From 7,650 percent in 1990, inflation plunged to under 200 percent in 1991. But before that happened, Fujimori replaced Hurtado Miller as minister of economy and finance with Carlos Boloña Behr, a young economist with a doctorate from Oxford University. The troubled Andean nation hence entered the 1990s with Fujimori serving as one of its most efficient, if authoritarian, democratically elected civilian presidents. Aided by the success of his anti-inflationary measures, Fujimori soon improved his standing in the eyes of most Peruvians.
Despite his success in liberalizing the economy in his first year, Fujimori was unable to implement other economic priorities for lack of a legislative majority. The negative effects of his harsh economic policies were increased unemployment and poverty. Real incomes were cut in half in Fujimori’s first year. By 1991, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, real wages in Peru had plummeted by two-thirds since 1987. In 1990-91 an additional 5 million Peruvians were pushed into extreme poverty, raising the overall figure to at least 13 million (60 percent of the population). Only the informal economy enabled these impoverished millions to survive, each year about 60,000 children were reported to die from malnutrition and disease before their first birthday, and 75,000 before age five.
Peru’s quality of life had declined drastically since the mid-1970s. In 1992 the Population Crisis Committee of the United States rated Lima, which has been growing by an estimated 400,000 new people annually, among the world’s ten worst cities in quality-of-life factors. In the United Nations Development Programme’s 1991 ranking of Peru’s Human Development Index (HDI), a measure that combines per capita product with factors such as longevity and access to education, Peru ranked in seventy-eighth place worldwide, but fell to ninety-fifth place in the 1992 ranking of the HDI. Peru’s socioeconomic statistics were generally grim. Only 13 percent of national income in the early 1990s went to the poorest 40 percent of the population. The poor were earning an average of US$200 a year in 1992. By 1990 the state spent US$12.50 per person on health and education, as compared with US$49 in 1981. Improving Peru’s public education remained an uphill struggle for the Fujimori government. In 1990 less than 59 percent of school-age children attended school. During that year, almost 27,500 teachers, whose salary was less than US$60 a month, changed their professions. Most schools lacked even water, light, and sanitary facilities. In 1991, 16 percent of school children dropped out, according to the Ministry of Education.
Although the economy remained a major concern of Peruvians, about 68 percent of the citizens polled in a 1990 survey identified the SL as the nation’s most serious problem. Political violence continued unabated during 1991-92. In 1991 Peru recorded 3,400 deaths from political violence, a 10 percent increase over 1990. Peru remained in a state of national insecurity for much of 1992 as a result of an economic depression and thirteen years of steadily increasing terrorism perpetrated by the SL. In 1992 political violence claimed 3,101 lives, with the SL and forces of public order responsible for 44 percent and 42 percent, respectively, of the dead. By the end of 1992, a total of 28,809 people had fallen victim to political violence since the SL began its terrorist war in 1980, according to the National Human Rights Coordinating Group. An estimated US$22 billion in property damage was a by-product of this violence.
Since beginning its terrorism during Peru’s democratic elections in May 1980, the SL has been an implacable threat to the country’s battered democracy. The widely reported urban terror perpetrated mainly by the SL, but also by the much smaller, pro-Cuban Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (Movimiento Revolucionario Túpac Amaru–MRTA), combined with economic chaos, gave Peru the notoriety of being South America’s most unstable nation. In September 1991, Fortune magazine rated Peru as the riskiest country in the world for investment, and the British newsletter Latin American Special Reports ranked it as the Latin American country with the highest political risk and the region’s highest percentage of poor (60 percent).
By the early 1990s, more than half the population was living in “emergency military zones,” where the security forces operated without accountability to the central government. Thus, the rural residents were caught between two brutal armies of occupation that terrorized them on a daily basis for any perceived sympathy to, or collaboration with, the other side. The army, the security forces, and the SL have all systematically perpetrated barbarous crimes against the rural population, with the female gender suffering no less than the male. As one of the world’s most brutal terrorist organizations, the SL’s rural terror has been a major causative factor in the mass flight of Peruvians from the highlands to the cities, especially Lima, Arequipa, Cusco, and Ilo. Most Peruvians under twenty-four years of age were abandoning rural areas for Lima and other coastal cities, where they were emigrating in large numbers, mostly to the United States.
Viewing the SL insurgency through theoretical lenses, some political scientists, such as Cynthia McClintock and Gordon H. McCormick, have depicted the SL as a peasant-based movement, a characterization that seemed to exaggerate the SL’s limited support among the peasantry. Evidence to support the applicability of paradigms of peasant rebellion to the case of the SL was lacking. In the early 1990s, the SL was reliably reported to be a largely nonpeasant organization. It clearly lacked the degree of peasant support needed for mobilizing an indigenous uprising comparable to those of the eighteenth century, let alone a large enough fraction of the support needed in the pueblos jóvenes and other sectors to cause an urban uprising, as occurred in Nicaragua in 1979. SL militants consisted primarily of highly indoctrinated, poor, provincial, mestizo teenagers in shantytown strongholds. SL leaders were largely white, middle-class, university-educated ideologists from various professions. The fanatical, ultraviolent SL was as alien to the vast majority of nonviolent, nonpolitical Peruvian peasants and the urban poor as Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge. Although it masqueraded as a political party and a peasant movement, the SL, like Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge, had succeeded only in depopulating the countryside through terror rather than in fomenting a popular peasant revolution.
The basic SL strategy supposedly was to “win” the countryside, then to “encircle” and “strangle” Lima. However, the SL’s actual power, because of the nature of terrorism as the instrument of the weak, was derived more from pervasive fear perpetrated by small terrorist elements than by military strength. It was becoming increasingly evident that the SL had lost most of the coerced support that it once had among the peasantry and had failed to consolidate whatever supposed political control it had in the highlands, despite, or more likely because of, its savage terror tactics. It appeared that what McCormick described as the SL’s “control” and “commanding position” in the Sierra essentially resulted from its filling of a power vacuum rather than from any defeat of the army by the guerrilla forces. These forces avoided any confrontation with the approximately 3,400 personnel that, according to McCormick, the army had in the field at any one time.
McCormick’s conventional assessment in congressional testimony in March 1992 that the military “must serve as the principal weapon in the government’s arsenal against the SL” neglected to take into account the increasingly stubborn peasant resistance to the SL. This was manifested in the proliferation of rondas campesinas (Peasant Patrols), which have served as legally recognized self-defense units for villages. For years the lightly armed rondas had been ineffective. However, during 1992 Fujimori began arming them on a larger scale, and they soon became more effective than the government’s counterinsurgency forces in thwarting the SL’s plans for Maoist-style domination of the countryside. The 1,500 rondas operating in the Mantaro Valley in 1992 dealt major setbacks to the SL in this strategic region, which is Lima’s breadbasket. Some analysts, including McClintock and McCormick, have downplayed the significance of the rondas; others have viewed them in a more positive light, especially after the rondas underwent a transformation from passivity to a lethal manifestation of popular resistance to the SL. Anthropologist Carlos Iván Degregori Caso has described the rondas as the Fujimori government’s biggest success in the counterinsurgency war. By March 1992, more than 11,000 rifles and shotguns had been distributed among the 200,000 members of 526 officially registered rondas (which may actually number about 2,000), and the Fujimori government began handing out arms to newly created, ronda-like, urban self-defense groups as well. That September the government, also using the rondas as a model, provided about 1,400 shotguns to the Asháninka, the biggest ethnic minority in Peru’s Amazonian region and the main target of SL terrorism against ethnic groups in Amazonia.
Raúl González, a sociologist and Senderologist, has noted that the SL began making Lima the focus of its terrorism in 1991 only after having lost in the countryside. As it intensified its violence in Lima, the SL appeared to be making strong psychological headway in its plan for seizing control of the national capital through the use of bullets and bombs instead of ballots. A poll taken in Lima in June 1991 by Apoyo found that 41 percent of respondents, totaling 15 percent of Lima’s metropolitan population, were able to justify subversion as a result of poverty. The poll’s most important finding had to do with the public’s impression of the SL as a political group. The results suggested that an estimated 12 percent of respondents in the poorer areas of Lima were concealing their sympathies for the SL because they feared the security forces. SL leader Abimáel Guzmán Reynoso (“Presidente Gonzálo”) had a favorable rating of 17 percent in the poorest stratum, and an estimated 38 percent believed that the SL would be victorious. By September 1991, only 25 percent of Lima residents believed that the SL could be defeated, according to a survey published in Quehacer. The Lima poll results seemed to underscore Doughty’s point that “the interrelated ills of poverty, inequity, and ethnoracial discrimination” are the basis for the SL’s appeal. The resentment of Peru’s native American and mestizo majority against the European elite that traditionally has ruled in Lima has been a driving force behind the SL insurgency.
Since it began in early 1991, the SL’s campaign to infiltrate and radicalize Lima’s shantytowns has had a clear impact on these huge population centers. A poll taken by Apoyo in mid-1991 found that 64 percent of Lima residents felt that subversive violence was the greatest violence-related problem in Peru, followed by drug trafficking (16 percent) and abuse of authority and repression (12 percent). The relatively low concern about repression seemed surprising considering that the United Nations Human Rights Commission ranked Peru as number one or two among the world’s nations at causing its own people to “disappear” each year during the 1988-91 period. In 1990 the number of reported disappearances was 251, as compared with 440 in 1989. Other groups, such as Amnesty International, put disappearances two or three times higher. The United Nations Working Party on Disappeared Persons attributed 112 disappearances to Peru in 1992 (still the world’s highest incidence).
In a 1991 editorial, Graham noted that the SL, “by targeting corrupt officials and allowing nongovernmental and health-care organizations to continue operating in Lima’s shantytowns, was capitalizing on the erosion of state credibility caused by widespread corruption and violence.” The SL’s shantytown tactics turned violent, however, and by late 1991 or early 1992 the SL no longer fit this Robin Hood-like description. According to political scientist and Senderologist David Scott Palmer, the SL in early 1992 was fighting the local grassroots organizations– such as neighborhood committees, mothers’ clubs, soup kitchens, and church-sponsored discussion groups–“hammer and tong” and imposing its own local organizations. The SL also began assassinating popular community leaders, such as María Elena Moyano, the courageous deputy mayor of Villa El Salvador–Lima’s best-organized and largest shantytown (with 350,000 residents)– who had defiantly resisted the SL. As a result of thirty-two attacks in 1992, including ten assassinations of civic leaders, the SL attained control of Villa El Salvador’s industrial park, many of its soup kitchens, and a local council. However, despite its efforts (which included assassinating Moyano’s successor in January 1993), the SL failed to defeat the shantytown’s popular organizations.
The increasing intensity of SL terrorism and frustration with congressional impediments to combatting it and supposedly drug trafficking were reported to be major motivations for Fujimori’s military-backed self-coup (autogolpe) on April 5, 1992. Fujimori cast aside Peru’s twelve-year-old formal democracy by suspending the constitution of 1979, dissolving Congress, and dismissing the National Council of Magistrates, the Tribunal of Constitutional Guarantees, and the offices of the attorney general. He announced the installation of a Government of National Emergency and Reconstruction, headed by Oscar de la Puente Raygada Albela, president of the Council of Ministers and head of the Ministry of Foreign Relations.
Fujimori’s abrogation of Peru’s democratic system in a bloodless autogolpe apparently was more widely denounced outside of Peru than inside the country. Major United States newspapers called Fujimori a dictator. James A. Baker, then the United States secretary of state, called the self-coup “unjustified” and “an assault of democracy,” and the United States suspended US$167 million in new aid assistance to Peru. The United States also scuttled a series of loans to Peru from industrialized countries and multilateral lending organizations.
A threat interrelated with the insurgency and corruption in the military and security forces and one that has concerned the United States government far more than the governments of Fujimori and his predecessors has been drug trafficking. This topic has been the dominant issue in United States-Peruvian bilateral relations because of Peru’s status as the world’s largest coca-leaf producer (accounting for about 65 percent of total production). In its first military training funding for Peru since 1965, the United States approved US$35 million in military equipment and training for the army and police forces in July 1991. The accord also provided for US$60 million in economic aid to assist coca growers to switch to other crops. Peruvians were generally unenthusiastic about the interception strategy, however. In 1990 only 11 percent of Peruvians surveyed considered drug trafficking as the nation’s most serious problem. Echoing this sentiment, Fujimori favored the substitution of crops over forced eradication, in open disagreement with the United States.
In reaction to the autogolpe, the United States suspended all military and economic aid and reduced its counternarcotics presence in Peru by removing two large radar systems in Iquitos and Andoas and withdrawing twenty Special Forces troops, who had been training Peruvian police to combat drug traffickers. The Fujimori government expressed greater interest in United States assistance to the counterinsurgency effort than to the antidrug “war.” Following his autogolpe, Fujimori pleaded in Washington for a US$300 million military aid package. But the administration of President George H.W. Bush was uninterested in Peru’s plight. Although the army routed the MRTA from its bases of operation in the Middle Huallaga Valley in late 1992, the SL remained entrenched in Upper Huallaga and Central Huallaga.
For many Peruvians, the self-coup was a step forward, even though Peru’s international shunning no doubt had a grave impact on the millions of Peruvians living in extreme poverty. Fujimori’s autogolpe actually raised the hopes of many Peruvians, who approved of his dissolving Congress and the courts, which were widely seen as corrupt and detached from the people. According to a poll by the Lima-based Datum, only 16 percent opposed Fujimori’s decision to modify the constitution, only 12 percent objected to his closing Congress, and only 2 percent faulted his intention to reorganize the judiciary, popularly known as the “Palace of Injustice.” In the view of 85 percent, Fujimori would “structure a more efficient legislature,” and 84 percent believed he would make the judiciary more honest. In the opinion of 75 percent, he would solve the economic crisis, and more than 50 percent believed he would defeat terrorism. An Apoyo poll taken at the end of April 1992 gave Fujimori a record 82 percent level of support. The sectors of society that were most vocal in supporting the autogolpe were the military, local businesspeople and exporters, and the urban middle and lower classes. Those sectors most opposed were the former parliamentarians, the political class, intellectuals, and sections of the media.
In McClintock’s view, an important indicator of Peruvians’ support for the former democracy was the high electoral turnout: approximately 80 percent of registered voters and 70 percent of all potential voters in 1985 and 1990. Voting was, to be sure, compulsory. According to surveys by Datum, more than half of those who voted in 1990 would not have bothered had voting not been mandatory. The fine of 20 new soles (about US$12; for value of the new sol, was a substantial penalty for most Peruvians, but the loss of a day’s work to the bureaucracy to pay it was even worse.
Furthermore, the calls for a “return to democracy” tended to overlook the unrepresentative reality of Peruvian democracy as it had been practiced under the pseudo-democratic oligarchies of Belaúnde and García. As Graham points out, by 1990 Peru’s democratic institutions–the Congress, the judiciary, and political parties–had become generally discredited and the viability of Peruvian democracy was threatened by “a crisis of representation.” The members of the dissolved Congress were seen by most Peruvians as largely representing the white, wealthier residents of Lima. According to an Apoyo poll, Peru’s citizens defined democracy as an elected president and a free press, with no mention of representative institutions. Additionally, Palmer notes that the number of provinces and department’s under military control “substantially eroded the formal democratic reality.”
Popular surveys amply demonstrated the public’s distrust of Peru’s democratic institutions. In a Lima poll conducted by Apoyo in 1991, only three of thirteen institutions listed–the Roman Catholic Church, the media, and the armed forces–generated more trust than distrust. Congress, which engendered the most distrust, was distrusted by 72 percent and trusted by only 19 percent. Following close behind was the judiciary, which was distrusted by 68 percent and trusted by only 22 percent. The presidency was distrusted by 61 percent and trusted by only 26 percent. The Council of Ministers was distrusted by 60 percent and trusted by only 24 percent. The National Police (Policía Nacional–PN) was distrusted by 61 percent and trusted by only 33 percent. Political parties inspired the trust of only 13 percent of polled citizens, whereas 76 percent distrusted them.
Low wages made both police personnel and judges, like many other public officials, susceptible to bribery and contributed to the inefficiency of the PN and the judiciary. A reported 1,300 policemen were dismissed in 1991, with many being sent to prison for involvement in offenses ranging from highway robbery to extortion and maltreatment of detainees.
Fujimori actively sought a reformed version of Peru’s short- lived democracy, even “a profound transformation,” not a return to it. In a remark quoted by the New York Times, political scientist Robert Pastor alluded to the inherent contradiction in the “return to democracy” argument. “Simply restoring the democratic status quo ante,” Pastor said, “will not work because it was not working before.” Bernard W. Aronson, the United States Department of State’s assistant secretary for inter-American affairs, noted to Congress on May 7, 1992, that “ironically, nobody in Peru, whether the opposition or the Fujimori government, is arguing they should go back to the status quo ante of April 5; nobody is quarreling with the need for fundamental reforms.” That, indeed, was Fujimori’s announced plan. The question remained whether he was sincere in wanting to implement it in a timely manner, or would remain “emperor” for ten years. (Fujimori had quipped to a meeting of businesspeople in April 1992 that Peru needed an emperor.)
During the remainder of 1992, Fujimori seemed serious in his stated mission to “moralize” and reform what had been a corrupt and unrepresentative pseudo-democracy. In his speech to the Organization of American States meeting in Nassau, the Bahamas, on May 18, and in his message to the nation on July 28, Fujimori committed himself to reestablishing full institutional democracy. He also underscored the main deficiency of the defunct democracy–the fact that representatives did not represent and were not accountable to their districts. He maintained that the country’s political party system was basically undemocratic because the parties were dominated by professional cliques (cúpulas), who restricted membership and imposed their handpicked candidates for elective posts from closed lists (listas cerradas). He added that party influence had spread to virtually all social institutions, which were thus forced to be linked to the “partyocracy.” Fujimori’s conciliatory speech, combined with factors such as his domestic popularity, international pressure, and Boloña’s efforts to win “reinsertion” in the international financial community helped to explain why the OAS’s response to the self-coup was generally mild. The government of Japan, by conditioning Japanese aid on a swift return to democracy, reportedly was crucial in persuading Fujimori not to delay in carrying out his promise to create a new democratic system.
During 1992 Fujimori enacted reforms aimed at modernizing the whole political system, and he also sought to include the economic and social structures, including the educational system, in this modernization program. In the political arena, he proposed creating a system that would give power to the people rather than the leading cliques in the political parties. The centerpiece of the new system was the Democratic Constituent Congress (Congreso Constituyente Democrático–CCD), an autonomous, supposedly “sovereign,” single-chamber body designed to temporarily replace the dissolved Congress, revise Peru’s constitution of 1979, serve as a legislature until the end of Fujimori’s legal term in July 1995, and reorganize the judiciary.
Fujimori quickly forged a consensus on the need for a reform of the judiciary and for establishing a mechanism to reform the constitution of 1979. A month after his self-coup, Fujimori put the prisons under the control of the National Police, restored order in them, and improved conditions for inmates. However, little headway was made to reduce the huge backlog of cases awaiting trial. In August 1992, he completed the tightening of the judicial system to deal more effectively with subversive groups by adopting the Colombian practice of trial by “faceless” judges. Fujimori’s earlier martial law decree ensured that anyone charged with homicide would be tried by military tribunals. All other terrorist-related offenses would be tried summarily by the anonymous judges, who would sign their verdicts with code names. Terrorist offenses would be categorized as treason, punishable by a sentence of life imprisonment instead of the previous maximum of twenty-five years. Judicial reforms enacted by the CCD in March 1993 included a new system for the appointment of judges, a task previously performed in a politicized fashion by the National Council of Magistrates. The reform supposedly eliminated political interference by the executive and legislative branches in the designation of judges by giving the Council and the District Councils exclusive responsibility for the selection, appointment, and promotion of judges. Another reform was the creation of the School for Magistrates (Academia de la Magistratura).
Fujimori also sought to expedite the decentralization and deconcentration of power through the transfer of power and resources to local government. The establishment of regional governments in Peru had been proceeding slowly since 1980. Two weeks after his autogolpe, Fujimori dissolved the existing regional assemblies and regional councils of all regional governments, which he had lambasted as corrupt and inefficient forums that were obstructing his economic reforms. Most of the existing regional structures were controlled by left-of-center opposition parties, including García’s American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana- -APRA).
The CCD was tasked with reassessing the interrupted regionalization process and deciding whether to retain the model prescribed by the 1988 Law on Regionalization Bases or set new guidelines that would correct the previous system’s errors. The Fujimori government regarded the regionalization program as a bureaucratic nightmare and advocated a process of decentralization. It favored setting up four or five macroregions that would be able to coordinate large projects involving vast contiguous geographic areas. These macroregions would be intermediate units facilitating development, territorial organization, and administration between the central and municipal governments. The state would thus be organized into two levels: the central government, with regulatory and supervisory functions, and the municipal governments, for which the regional entity would serve an administrative function (although Lima and the constitutional province of Callao would have the same mayor, Callao would retain control of its own revenues and benefits). To this end, a decree established a Provisional Administrative Council (Consejo Administrativo Provisional) in each region.
Fujimori stated on several occasions during 1992 that no political or economic reforms would succeed unless the SL insurgency was defeated first. The SL and MRTA initially had welcomed the autogolpe, expecting that repression would further polarize the country. Instead, repression did not materialize and the SL suffered its first major reversal when the National Counterterrorism Division (Dirección Nacional Contra el Terrorismo–Dincote) finally caught up with Guzmán and other top SL leaders on September 16, 1992. Once again, the army was upstaged in the counterinsurgency war. Whereas Fujimori’s support had slipped to a still impressive 65 percent in an Apoyo poll taken on July 12, 1992, when the SL offensive in Lima was intensifying, and to 60 percent in early August, an Apoyo poll published on September 20 gave him a healthy 74 percent level of support. In terms of political power in Peru, Guzmán was ranked number three in mid-1992 by Debate magazine’s annual survey of power in Peru, as based on an opinion poll. Taking advantage of Guzmán’s capture, Fujimori also launched a diplomatic campaign against the SL’s networks in Europe and the United States. He described the networks as consisting of thirty- six organizations and about 100 members, mostly Peruvians, who acted as SL “ambassadors” responsible for distributing propaganda and raising funds.
In the wake of Guzmán’s capture, the SL’s prospects for seizing power seemed greatly diminished. Journalist Gustavo Gorriti Ellenbogen noted in Lima’s centrist Caretas news magazine that while Guzmán was operating underground, his cult of personality was the SL’s principal weapon. Gorriti added that with Guzmán’s capture this cult became the SL’s greatest point of vulnerability and probably will have “a corrosive and destructive effect on Shining Path.” Dincote not only captured the SL’s guiding light, thereby destroying his mythical status, but also effectively decapitated the SL’s organizational leadership and dismantled its Lima apparatus, both of which were led to a large extent by women.
Peruvian women traditionally have been excluded from male- dominated institutions at all levels of government and subjected to a multitude of other social injustices. Some of the more activist women have had a fatal attraction to the SL, which has vowed to sweep away these discredited governing structures and replace them with female-dominated “people’s committees.” The SL’s female members proved to be as ruthless as its male members, and apparently more dominant. Before the arrests in September and October 1992, women had constituted a reported 56 percent of the SL’s top leadership. In 1992 at least eight members of the SL’s nineteen-member Central Committee were women. Also captured with Guzmán was Elena Albertina Iparraguirre Revoredo (“Miriam”), who occupied the number-two position in the SL’s top decision-making body, the Politburo (which had various names). Captured documents enabled Dincote to neutralize the SL’s Lima-based organization with the arrests of other key female leaders, such as Laura Zambrano Padilla (“Comrade Meche”), a former teacher who had headed the SL’s Lima Metropolitan Committee, which planned and implemented terrorist actions in the capital. The right-of-center Expreso reported that the SL had lost about 70 percent of its ruling cadres because of the arrests. In October security forces captured four of the five top leaders of Popular Aid (Socorro Popular), another SL group responsible for SL military operations in Lima. Among those captured was Martha Huatay Ruíz (“Tota”), a lawyer and reportedly the SL’s highest-ranking leader still at large. At the end of 1992, Fujimori claimed that 95 percent of the SL leadership had been captured and imprisoned for life. According to Peruvian news media, instead of having one leader the remaining SL organization had decided on a three- person directorate of hardliners. Two of these individuals were reported to be Teresa Durand Araujo (“Juana”) and her nephew, Oscar Alberto Ramírez Durand (“Feliciano”), described as the SL’s military commander, an unscrupulous and violence-prone former law student and the son of an army general. The third reportedly was Angélica Salas de la Crúz (“Lucía”).
Despite the SL’s leadership losses, its terrorist capability and clandestine military structure remained largely intact and continued to pose a serious threat. Funded with millions of dollars in drug “taxes,” the SL entered a new phase of its multistaged war in the second half of 1992. It passed from what it grandly termed “strategic balance” (with the army) to “strategic offensive,” which included striking at prominent targets in Lima. SL attacks actually intensified after Guzmán’s arrest, although the statistics vary widely. De Soto’s Legal Defense Institute (Instituto de Defensa Legal–IDL), itself the target of SL bomb attacks on two occasions, reported that the SL perpetrated 474 attacks nationwide in the three months after Guzmán’s capture, killing 365 people, or about 25 percent more than in the three months preceding Guzmán’s arrest. The Lima- based Institute for National Defense Research (Instituto para Investigaciones de la Defensa Nacional–Iniden) reported that 653 people were killed as a result of 502 terrorist attacks perpetrated during the three months that followed Guzmán’s arrest. Peru’s most violent month of 1992 was November, when 279 people were killed in 226 terrorist attacks, according to Iniden. The fatal casualties that month included seventy-five SL militants, ninety-two MRTA members, nine soldiers, thirteen members of the PN, and ninety civilians. The stepped-up violence reflected growing desperation on the part of both terrorist groups.
Fujimori continued to rely mainly on further militarization of the government’s counterinsurgency efforts against the SL. However, many members of the military and PN–demoralized by low salaries, corruption, and obsolete equipment–lacked the sense of mission that their counterparts in Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay had when threatened by urban terrorism. Thus, in addition to the SL and MRTA, Fujimori had to cope with the ever-present threat of a military coup. Discontent within the ranks reportedly had been mounting during 1992 as a result of what military commanders viewed as the army’s loss of institutional status, reduced prestige in society, low pay, and the military’s politicization by the government. Former president Belaúnde called for a military coup against Fujimori to return the nation to democracy, implying that the military would graciously return to the barracks after overseeing a quick transition to democratic rule. (Having himself been overthrown by the military in 1968, Belaúnde sounded more like an oligarch than a democrat.)
Military resentment focused in particular on Vladimiro Montesinos Torres, a shadowy adviser of the presidency in internal security affairs accountable only to Fujimori. Montesinos has served as Fujimori’s reputed intermediary with the faction of the military that has been Fujimori’s main base of support. Montesinos reportedly was seen by the military in general as having obtained too much influence over promotions in the armed forces and too much power over the National Intelligence Service (Servicio de Inteligencia Nacional–SIN), which he designed. According to the London-based Latin America Monitor, Captain Montesinos was expelled from the army in 1976, allegedly for selling military secrets to foreigners, and spent a year in prison for disobedience. He then earned a degree in criminal law and “amassed a fortune by defending and representing drug traffickers.”
The degree of influence that Montesinos had in Fujimori’s inner circle was reflected in Debate’s 1991 annual survey, which put Montesinos in twelfth place. But in the Lima magazine’s 1992 poll, Montesinos rose to fourth place. The negative press reports and the military resentment failed to sway Fujimori’s stated total confidence in Montesinos. Describing Montesinos as a “good friend,” Fujimori somewhat implausibly denied that Montesinos supported any promotions or even that he served as an adviser. Given the military’s fickle support of Fujimori, the Montesinos factor appeared to be a bold test of Fujimori’s authority over the armed forces. Palmer has posed pointed questions as to why the military has allowed itself to be subjected to Montesinos’s machinations, and whether this is a sign of military weakness. Possible explanations appeared to be in Montesinos’s ability to purge the military of any independent- minded officers and in Degregori’s observation that the military’s power had diminished. Moreover, as political scientist Enrique Obando has noted, a legislative decree of November 1991 gave Fujimori himself the power to choose the command of the armed forces, thereby making political loyalty a more important qualification than professional capability.
Thanks in no small part to Montesinos, Fujimori did not appear to be in the process of becoming a figurehead president like Uruguay’s Juan María Bordaberry Arocena (1972-76), who gave free rein to the military to eliminate the urban Tupamaro guerrillas only to be later replaced by a military man. Although Fujimori was hardly immune from a similar fate. Graham’s assertion that “the situation under Fujimori was one of de facto military control” seemed to be contradicted somewhat by Montesinos’s influence, the military’s continuing salary grievances, and Fujimori’s success thus far in removing military commanders whenever they appeared to pose a potential threat to his authority. Nevertheless, Fujimori’s minister of interior and his minister of defense were both army generals. And the military clearly had become more politicized during the Fujimori administration, as demonstrated by Fujimori’s personal involvement in military promotions and by a political speech given in front of him by Division General Nicolás Hermoza Ríos, on taking over the Armed Forces Joint Command on January 2, 1992. Whether Fujimori would succeed in keeping the military at bay remained to be seen, but politicizing the institution risked dividing it. Fujimori publicly reiterated that “political power rules over the military, and the president is the supreme commander of the armed forces.” However, the depth of Fujimori’s power over the military was still unclear in early 1993.
A lack of total control by Fujimori over the military was suggested by credible allegations that extremist elements of the army were operating with impunity by carrying out extralegal actions against suspected terrorists, without Fujimori’s knowledge. During the García government, a paramilitary death squad called the Rodrigo Franco Command operated as an extralegal enforcement arm of the APRA under the direct control of the minister of interior. To the extent that Fujimori prove unable to rein in the military extremists, they posed a potential threat to his authority and the human rights standing of his government. According to the United Nations, the number of “extra-judicial executions” was rising during Fujimori’s government from 82 in 1990 to 99 in 1991 and 114 in 1992.
Discontent was rife in the Peruvian military in 1992. A pressing military issue in Peru seemed to be morale problems fueled by low military salaries. By 1992 monthly pay for a captain had declined to about US$120; a major, US$230; a colonel, between US$250 and US$300; and a general, between US$300 and US$500. Low pay presumably was a major reason for the high desertion rates, estimated during 1992 at 40 percent of conscripts and thirty-five trained officers a month. By the time of Fujimori’s autogolpe, military unrest over low salaries reportedly had become intense, with a widening split between low- ranking and high-ranking officers. Indeed, in early 1992 a secretive cabal of middle-ranking officers, called Comaca (Commanders, Majors, and Captains), formed to plan rebellions against corrupt military leaders. Fujimori’s failure to deliver on his pre-autogolpe promise to improve military pay was particularly upsetting to many soldiers and middle-ranking army officers, many of whom had expected significant salary increases in exchange for supporting the self-coup.
Fujimori took a risk by giving up his constitutional legitimacy and putting himself at the disposal of the military while co-opting the top military leadership. This fact became evident on November 13, 1992, when three recently retired generals, including the commander of the army, led a coup attempt that was crushed by the loyal military. The abortive action reportedly was motivated by a variety of factors, including grievances over low salaries and promotions and Fujimori’s announced stand to punish navy officers involved in an embezzlement scandal. Another reported reason was his November 13 decree granting him direct authority to dismiss and assign all military officers above the rank of lieutenant (previously, officers could be removed only on retirement or for misconduct). Several of the coup plotters had been summarily retired from active service by Fujimori and Montesinos.
Fujimori claimed that opposition politicians were behind the coup attempt and that it was also a plot to prevent the CCD elections and to assassinate him. Whatever its motivations, he appeared to have calculated correctly that his popular support and the predominantly loyal military would obviate a military coup and that the armed forces did not want to take control and hence to assume responsibility for the nation’s economic, social, and political crises (for which they already bore much blame from the disastrous period of military rule in 1968-80). Nevertheless, Fujimori’s heavy-handed treatment of the coup members reportedly caused widespread resentment within the armed forces. Breaking with military tradition, the government incarcerated the conspirators in the civilian Canto Grande Prison instead of in a military prison. Brigade General Alberto Arciniega Huby, a member of the Military Tribunal that had summarily condemned Guzmán to life imprisonment and fined him about US$25 billion, fled into exile after being retired for criticizing the imprisonments of the coupists. (Two generals who led the coup attempt later received seven- to eight-year prison terms, and twenty-six other military officers were given prison sentences ranging from six months to seven years, however, eleven of the officers received presidential pardons in May 1993, and most others were expected to be pardoned as well.) In the analysis of Enrique Obando, the coup attempt constituted the beginning of a struggle in the army between “institutionalist” officers, represented by the coup members, and the “co-opted high command,” a struggle likely to be a continuing source of instability for the government.
The election of the CCD’s eighty members in a single nationwide district went ahead as scheduled on November 22, 1992. Fujimori’s New Majority Movement (Movimiento Nueva Mayoría)- Change ’90 coalition won control of the CCD by garnering 43 percent of the vote and 44 seats (almost the same number of seats that Change ’90 had in the former 240-member Congress). Nevertheless, Fujimori had expected to win 50 seats. The eighteen other political groups that participated in the CCD elections did not include García’s APRA and a number of other leftist parties, nor Belaúnde’s AP or Vargas Llosa’s Liberty Movement, all of which boycotted them. The conservative PPC contested the elections and won 7.7 percent of the vote, or nine seats. About 22 percent of the voters cast blank or deliberately spoiled ballots. In an internal CCD election held on December 29, New Majority’s leader, Jaime Yoshiyama Tanaka, a Harvard-trained economist who had been serving as Fujimori’s minister of energy and mines, was elected CCD president with 60 votes in favor (15 ballots were blank).
Some Peru analysts found fault with the CCD elections. McClintock accused Fujimori of “manipulating” them. In her view, the elections were “very problematical” because “there were many delays in the recognition of lists and the campaign time was very short.” Critics also contended that the electoral rules were skewed in Fujimori’s favor and that the CCD was designed to be subservient to executive authority. Nevertheless, 200 OAS observers determined that the elections were open and fair.
Despite the CCD elections, United States-Peruvian relations remained cool in late 1992. The United States lacked any apparent role or influence in Lima and did not even have an ambassador in Lima, in part because its ambassador’s residence suffered extensive damage from a massive SL car bomb in February 1992 (a new ambassador was scheduled to assume the post in 1993). Following the CCD elections, Japan, attracted by Fujimori’s ancestry and the absence of the United States, remained the major foreign player in Peru, providing US$400 million in aid in 1991 and substantial amounts in 1992 as well. The United States began to show some interest, however, by agreeing to jointly lead, with Japan, the Support Group (Grupo de Apoyo) for Peru for 1993. The administration of President Bill Clinton concluded in March 1993 that Peru’s human rights record had improved sufficiently to justify United States assistance to Peru in the payment of its arrears with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
As in Bolivia, the United States strategy to interdict drugs and reduce coca-growing had made very little progress and lacked public support. By late 1992, less than one-half of 1 percent of raw cocaine reportedly was being intercepted, and coca-growing was expanding at a rapid rate. In contrast, legal agriculture remained stagnant. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration’s largest and most important base in Latin America continued to operate at Santa Lucía in the Upper Huallaga Valley. According to Lima’s La República, drug-trafficking activities had increased in the Huallaga region by late November 1992, aided by the protection of some army and PN forces in the area. Some independent journalists reportedly had been threatened and occasionally assassinated by narco-hit men for reporting on military corruption. In March 1993, Defense Minister Víctor Malca Villanueva informed the congressional drugs commission that seventy-four members of the armed forces were being tried for drug trafficking, but he denied that armed forces officers were paying bribes in order to serve in cocaine zones.
On the economic front, trends reportedly were beginning to tilt slightly in Fujimori’s favor by the end of 1992, according to economist John Sheahan. Inflation was down from 60 percent a month at the end of García’s presidency to 3.8 percent, mainly as a result of the tough economic-adjustment program introduced prior to the autogolpe. The accumulated inflation rate for 1992 amounted to 56.7 percent, the lowest rate in fifteen years. In addition, the US$22-billion debt was being serviced, the budget was being balanced, the nation’s reserves had been restored to almost US$2 billion, privatization was proceeding, and Fujimori’s incentives for foreign investment were technically among the most competitive in Latin America. The privatization process, which began in May 1992 with the government’s announcement of its plans to sell off all 200 of its money-losing state companies, encountered a series of snags during the year. Nevertheless, Peru’s first major sale of a state-owned industrial enterprise, the Hierroperú, S.A. mining company, went to a Chinese state-owned corporation, making China the second-largest foreign investor in Peru, after the Southern Peru Copper Corporation.
The improving direction of some economic indicators, however, still did little to alleviate the plight of most Peruvians, who were consumed with the daily struggle for survival. The gross domestic product fell in 1992 by about 3 percent, in a continuing recession. The lower class was living on survival wages and meager earnings, and the middle class was becoming increasingly impoverished. Per capita income had regressed to 1960s’ levels. In 1992 only 15 percent of Lima’s work force was employed adequately, as compared with 60 percent in 1987. State employees reportedly were earning only 15 percent of what they did in 1988. By early 1993, the public sector had shed 500,000 employees since Fujimori’s election, or about half of the country’s total public-sector workforce. As a result of the government’s attempts to modernize the agricultural sector by opening the market and eliminating credits and subsidies, many farmers were finding coca to be the only profitable crop. The expansion of coca-growing was accelerating ecological devastation in Amazonia. In short, the country’s economic plight was profoundly altering Peru’s society and environment.
Nevertheless, in late 1992 Sheahan saw some basis for optimism if more directive economic strategies were adopted to reduce poverty, to make the export sector more competitive (Peru’s new sol had become overvalued as a result of excessive inflow of dollars, making exports less competitive), and to establish a stronger tax base. The latter, the Achilles’ Heel of the economy, was dependent on the willingness of middle- and upper-income groups to accept higher taxation, a necessity to avoid inflation, according to economist Jeffrey D. Sachs. Fujimori’s sharp increase in property tax rates in 1991 created a public outcry, but inflation was brought under control. In Sheahan’s analysis, Peru had nearly all the economic conditions needed for economic reactivation without inflation: underutilized capacity of the industrial sector, an abundance of skilled and unskilled labor, and growing capital imports needed for rising production.
How committed Fujimori was to fully reinstituting a democratic system remained to be seen. His government decreed somewhat prematurely on December 29, 1992, that it had ended the transitional stage to democracy with the installation of the CCD. The Fujimori government clearly improved its semi-legitimacy by holding the second national electoral process since the autogolpe–the municipal elections of January 29, 1993, which were also monitored by OAS observers. In contrast to the November 1989 municipal elections, which the SL disrupted by selective assassinations of mayors and mayoral candidates, some 12,000 candidates, spurning SL threats, registered without incident for the local 1993 elections in 187 provincial mayoralties and 1,599 district mayoralties, even in the SL’s traditional stronghold of Ayacucho. The elections swept nonideological independents into office across the country, at the expense of candidates from the traditional political parties and Fujimori’s New Majority Movement-Change ’90 coalition of allied independents. This political trend was most evident in Lima, whose independent mayor, Ricardo Belmont, was reelected with nearly 48 percent of the votes. APRA, which had long dominated politics, did poorly in the municipal elections, winning only two mayoralties in its traditional stronghold in the north; its mayoral candidate in Lima received only 3 percent of the vote.
Contrary to the judgments of his foreign critics, Fujimori did not fit the mold of a traditional Latin American dictator. In a 1993 article, McClintock labeled Fujimori a “caudillo,” a term usually denoting a military dictator (but occasionally a civilian one) interested in maintaining power at any cost, maximizing personal gain, and exercising extremely repressive rule. This generally accepted definition, although applicable to caudillos such as Nicaragua’s General Anastasio Somoza Debayle and Chile’s General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, did not seem to fit Fujimori. His uncaudillo-like style of governing has been described as efficient, unconventional, anti-establishment, combative, brusque, astutely cautious, pragmatic, enigmatic, and low- profile. Fujimori has also been described by foreign journalists as an autocrat, a term denoting that he rules with unlimited power and influence. Yet, it seemed clear that his power over and influence with the military has been tenuous, and that he was not immune from being overthrown by the armed forces. His overthrow, moreover, would, as Degregori has warned, create a “political vacuum.” That scenario could allow a real caudillo to take power.
Although he sought to emulate Pinochet’s authoritarian implementation of a free-market economy, Fujimori’s rule appeared to be no more than moderately repressive and far more responsive to international pressures to restore a democratic system. Few dictators have been known to visit urban shantytowns and rural squatter settlements every week and to enjoy such high popularity ratings, as Fujimori has, to the consternation of the elites and his foreign critics. Polls throughout 1992 indicated that he continued to be viewed as one of Latin America’s most popular presidents. According to a poll conducted in Lima by the Imasen Company in December 1992, Fujimori was maintaining his popularity at 63.3 percent. Even his countersubversive policy received a 74- percent approval rating in a poll conducted in Lima in January 1993.
An antipolitician and an authoritarian with a sense of mission, the professorial Fujimori seemed more like a president intent on “moralizing” and reforming Peru. He was clearly determined to make those in positions of responsibility accountable for violations of the public trust. “If we want moralization, we must be drastic,” he told Peruvian journalists in an interview on January 2, 1993; “there are no partial solutions.” He was particularly determined to make García an example by seeking to extradite him from Colombia to face trial for embezzlement of US$400,000 of state money and theft of US$50 million from the Central Bank during his term. Fujimori applied his reformist zeal as equally to the Ministry of Foreign Relations and the School of Diplomacy as to the legislative and judicial branches. Explaining that Peruvians had a right to expect results from the US$50 million per year spent by the ministry, Fujimori purged 117 diplomats (a fifth of the diplomatic corps), who failed to meet his standards; replaced the traditional system of political appointment of ambassadors with a merit-based system; and opened up the elitist School of Diplomacy to nondiplomats.
In early 1993, the Fujimori government appeared to be making some progress in pulling the economy out of its deep recession, despite another change in the post of minister of economy and finance. Carlos Boloña, who oversaw the deregulation of almost every aspect of economic activity, resigned over his opposition to Fujimori’s plan to relax the rigid economic program. He was replaced on January 8 by Jorge Camet Dickman, Fujimori’s former minister of industry, domestic trade, tourism, and integration and former head of Peru’s most important business association. Camet vowed to continue Boloña’s economic program, but with greater support to social sectors. Camet was known as a successful engineer and entrepreneur, but, unlike Boloña, he reportedly lacked any experience in negotiating international financial agreements. In the wake of Boloña’s departure, annual inflation raised its head again, totaling 17.5 percent in the first quarter. However, Peru’s first-quarter Gross National Product grew 2.3 percent from the same period in 1992.
Fujimori seemed to be moving in the direction of building a reformed and more democratic governing system, and he fully expected to complete his term of office, barring an ill-conceived military coup by army officers on the payroll of drug traffickers or assassination by the extreme right or left. The elections for a broadly based CCD and municipal governments were steps in the right direction, but the formal transition to a reformed democracy awaited the adoption of a new, improved constitution scheduled for July 28, 1993.
The draft of the new constitution, published in May 1993, contains 148 new articles, 93 modified articles, and 59 unchanged articles of the constitution of 1979.
Even with a new constitution, questions as to the CCD’s autonomy would likely continue, and some freedoms normally expected of democracy probably would remain restricted. For example, although both Fujimori and General Juan Enrique Briones Dávila, the minister of interior, claimed in January 1993 that total freedom of the press existed throughout the nation, new legislation providing life sentences to journalists convicted of being “apologists of terrorism” was intimidating to reporters. Some limited press restrictions had been imposed, primarily against newspapers affiliated with the SL and the MRTA. Americas Watch, a New York-based human rights group, reported in early 1993 that “Freedom of the press in Peru is steadily eroding in what appears to be a broad campaign by the Fujimori government to intimidate or silence critics and political opponents.” In early 1993, Enrique Zileri Gibson, editor of the weekly news magazine Caretas, was barred from leaving the country, and his assets were frozen under the terms of his sentence for defaming Montesinos by characterizing him as a “Rasputin.” (If there was an indirect analogy between the illiterate mystic Rasputin and the well-informed Montesinos, it may be found in Rasputin’s influence over Czarina Alexandra on appointments and dismissals of high-ranking government officials and in Czar Nicholas II’s decision to ignore continued allegations of wrongdoing by Rasputin after expelling him once, only to have the czarina return him to the palace.) Despite the Fujimori government’s action against Zileri, Caretas continued to publish articles critical of the government and Fujimori in particular. Fujimori, for his part, continued to make himself accessible to the press by giving lengthy weekly interviews in which he has shown himself adept at putting a favorable “spin” on the news.
His critics notwithstanding, Fujimori was convinced that his authoritarian measures were rapidly pacifying Peru and setting the stage for a free-market economic boom in the mid-1990s. He was expected to continue pushing ahead with liberal policies, speeding up the privatization process, controlling inflation, and promoting the international reinsertion of Peru. Indeed, in sharp contrast to Peru’s standing in 1991, investor confidence in Peru was soaring by early 1993, buoyed by government progress against terrorism, the IMF’s endorsement of the country’s economic program, and Fujimori’s liberal foreign investment regulations. Lima’s stock index had risen in real terms by 138 percent, one of the highest rankings in terms of growth among world markets. France’s Crédit Lyonnais (a state-owned bank slated to be privatized) became the first foreign bank in many years to assume majority control of a Peruvian bank, the Banco de Lima. Nevertheless, businesses still faced terrorist sabotage, deteriorating infrastructure, and miserable social conditions. It seemed doubtful that Peru would be able to imitate the example of its far more developed and democratic southern neighbor, Chile, whose economy was booming as a result of economic and political reforms. Peru’s intractable problems, particularly the poverty of the great mass of Peruvians and the rapidly growing population rate, weighed heavily against the nation’s emulation of Chile’s rising level of development. But Fujimori, in contrast to his status quo predecessors, namely García and Belaúnde, appeared to be making progress in moving the country in the direction of significant political and economic reforms and eventual defeat of the SL and the MRTA (the latter was nearly neutralized in April 1993 with the recapture of a top leader, María Lucero Cumpa Miranda).
Peruvians, for their part, expected Fujimori to keep to his timetable of eliminating the SL threat by the end of his term on July 28, 1995. In 1992 Senderologists had differing views on the SL’s chances of seizing power before the end of the twentieth century, as it had vowed to do. McCormick was among those who considered an SL victory by 2000 to be likely. Others, including Palmer, asserted that the Fujimori government was stronger than assumed, that the SL was weaker than assumed, and, thus, an SL takeover was unlikely. In the more blunt assessment of Raúl González, the SL’s chances of seizing power were “nil.” In April 1993, with most SL leaders in prison, the latter two views appeared to be closer to the mark. Nevertheless, the SL reportedly had decided on a strategy of total militarization and appeared to be still capable of continuing its terrorist activities indefinitely.
Peruvians also expected Fujimori to comply with the results of the 1995 presidential elections, even though his authoritarian tendencies seemed to run counter to his oft-stated intention to step down at the end of his term in 1995. In early January 1993, he signed some fifty decrees designed to consolidate presidential power before the CCD became operational that month. These decrees included a provision, approved by the CCD, for successive presidential reelection (which was included in the draft of the new constitution) and the less justifiable power to dissolve Congress. With his approval ratings still in the 62 to 67 percent range in April 1993, it seemed conceivable that Fujimori could complete his semi-legitimate term with a substantial measure of his extraordinary popularity intact. An Apoyo poll that month found that 47 percent of the population would reelect him in the 1995 election. Thus, should he decide in April 1995 to be a candidate he could remain an “emperor,” with a renewed mandate of legitimacy, for much of the decade by winning reelection. However, if he failed to restore full democratic freedoms and guarantees of respect for human rights, he risked renewed international isolation of Peru, which would likely have grave consequences for the economy, political stability, and the counterterrorism war.
Economy – overview: The Peruvian economy has become increasingly market-oriented, with major privatizations completed since 1990 in the mining, electricity, and telecommunications industries. Thanks to strong foreign investment and the cooperation between the FUJIMORI government and the IMF and World Bank, growth was strong in 1994-97 and inflation was brought under control. In 1998, El Nino’s impact on agriculture, the financial crisis in Asia, and instability in Brazilian markets undercut growth. And 1999 was another lean year for Peru, with the aftermath of El Nino and the Asian financial crisis working its way through the economy. Political instability resulting from the presidential election and FUJIMORI’s subsequent departure from office limited economic growth in 2000.
GDP: purchasing power parity – $123 billion (2000 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 2.4% (1999 est.), 3.6% (2000 est.)
GDP – per capita: purchasing power parity – $4,550 (2000 est.)
GDP – composition by sector:
services: 43% (1999)
Population below poverty line: 49% (1994 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.9%
highest 10%: 34.3% (1994)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.7% (2000 est.)
Labor force: 7.6 million (1996 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture, mining and quarrying, manufacturing, construction, transport, services
Unemployment rate: 7.7%; extensive underemployment (1997)
revenues: $8.5 billion
expenditures: $9.3 billion, including capital expenditures of $2 billion (1996 est.)
Industries: mining of metals, petroleum, fishing, textiles, clothing, food processing, cement, auto assembly, steel, shipbuilding, metal fabrication
Industrial production growth rate: 8.5% (2000 est.)
Electricity – production: 18.886 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity – production by source:
fossil fuel: 23.04%
other: 0.53% (1999)
Electricity – consumption: 17.565 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity – exports: 0 kWh (1999)
Electricity – imports: 1 million kWh (1999)
Agriculture – products: coffee, cotton, sugarcane, rice, wheat, potatoes, plantains, coca; poultry, beef, dairy products, wool; fish
Exports: $5.9 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.), $7 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Exports – commodities: fish and fish products, copper, zinc, gold, crude petroleum and byproducts, lead, coffee, sugar, cotton
Exports – partners: US 29%, EU 25%, Andean Community 6%, Japan 4%, Mercosur 3% (1999)
Imports: $8.4 billion (c.i.f., 1999 est.), $7.4 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Imports – commodities: machinery, transport equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum, iron and steel, chemicals, pharmaceuticals
Imports – partners: US 32%, EU 21%, Andean Community 6%, Mercosur 8%, Japan 5% (1999)
Debt – external: $31 billion (2000 est.)
Economic aid – recipient: $895.1 million (1995)
Currency: nuevo sol (PEN)