[How a secret deal with the Fujimori clan struck a painful blow to
Peruvian democracy.] [https://portside.org/] 

 DEVIL’S BARGAIN   [https://portside.org/2018-04-01/devils-bargain]


 

 Eimhin O'Reilly 
 March 21, 2018
Jacobin
[https://www.jacobinmag.com/2018/03/peru-pedro-pablo-kuczynski-alberto-furjimori]


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 _ How a secret deal with the Fujimori clan struck a painful blow to
Peruvian democracy. _ 

 President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski of Peru looks on during a meeting
with US president Donald Trump (not pictured) in the Oval Office of
the White House on February 24, 2017 in Washington, DC., Olivier
Douliery - Pool / Getty 

 

 

Marly Anzualdo was getting ready to celebrate Christmas Eve in Callao,
a port city on the outskirts of Lima, when she learned that President
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, better known as PPK, had pardoned former
president Alberto Fujimori
[https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/07/keiko-fujimori-fujimorismo-peru-kucynski-mendoza/].
Convicted of human rights violations and corruption in a landmark 2009
case, Furjimori had served less than half of his twenty-five-year
sentence.

To Marly, the pardon felt like a personal insult, especially since it
came just days after the anniversary of her brother’s disappearance.
Kenneth — or Kenny, as Marly still calls him — was an outspoken
advocate for social justice. A student leader, he rallied against
corruption and helped families search for their missing loved ones,
all “disappeared” by state security forces. He had become a thorn
in the side of the Fujimori regime.

To Marly, the pardon felt like a personal insult, especially since it
came just days after the anniversary of her brother’s disappearance.
Kenneth — or Kenny, as Marly still calls him — was an outspoken
advocate for social justice. A student leader, he rallied against
corruption and helped families search for their missing loved ones,
all “disappeared” by state security forces. He had become a thorn
in the side of the Fujimori regime.

On the evening of December 16, 1993, Kenny left the university with a
group of friends and boarded a bus home. On the way, three agents of
the dreaded Army Intelligence Service intercepted the vehicle. They
forced Kenny into the back of their car and drove off into the night.
It was the last time Kenny was seen. He was just 25 years old.

At first, that was all Marly knew. But now, after years of rumors,
testimonies, and investigations, she can piece together a little more
about her brother’s last moments.

A few days before his disappearance, Kenny had accompanied Martin Roca
Casas’s father to the public prosecutor’s office. Martin, another
student activist, had vanished two months earlier, and Kenny had been
the last person to see him alive. Kenny’s kidnapping took place just
days before he was set to give his statement.

After abducting him, the agents took Kenneth, as they did Martin, to
the General Army Headquarters, a squat concrete building commonly
referred to as the _pentagonito_ — the little pentagon. Once
there, security forces most likely tortured him to death to send a
message to other would-be agitators. They would have burned his body
in one of the on-site crematoria and scattered his remains somewhere
on the building’s grounds.

After her brother’s disappearance, Marly became a prominent figure
in the campaign for justice for the victims of Fujimori’s regime. At
each stage of the lengthy battle to put Fujimori behind bars, Marly
worked tirelessly, staging sit-ins, pickets, and marches to keep the
memory of her brother alive. This time was no different.

After the “Christmas pardon” was announced, Marly and thousands of
other enraged citizens took to the streets, facing down the national
police’s barricades, riot gear, and tear gas. Despite the crackdown,
the protests grew, and Lima’s Plaza San Martín soon became the
center of resistance. Rallying around the hashtag #ElIndultoEsInsulto
(The Pardon Is An Insult), tens of thousands of protesters filled the
square [http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-42657312] over
the next month, carrying Peruvian flags, photographs of Kenneth and
other victims of the Fujimori regime, and signs calling the current
president a traitor.

Reviewing PPK’s path to the presidency, it’s hard to disagree with
the protesters’ assessment. He only narrowly made into the second
round of the 2016 election after trailing far behind Keiko Fujimori,
Alberto Fujimori’s daughter and leader of the right-wing party
Fuerza Popular (Popular Force). Almost twenty points behind Keiko, PPK
secured his razor-thin 0.24 percent margin only thanks to
a last-minute endorsement
[https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/07/keiko-fujimori-fujimorismo-peru-kucynski-mendoza/] from
the left-wing candidate Verónika Mendoza.

But the deal Kuczynski and Mendoza struck was precarious. A staunch
neoliberal and former Wall Street investment banker, PPK’s economic
plans differed from Keiko’s hyper-capitalist strategy in only the
most superficial ways. The progressive left supported him
begrudgingly, in hopes of “stop[ping] the advance
of _fujimorismo_,” as Mendoza put it in her endorsement speech.

PPK did promise not to grant Fujimori amnesty — a pledge his prime
minister, Mercedes Aráoz, repeated just three days before the pardon
was announced. Kuczynski claimed he made the decision on humanitarian
grounds, citing an unspecified but “serious, nonterminal illness.”

“There is absolutely nothing humanitarian about the pardon,” Marly
tells me firmly:

PPK has made a mockery of our constitution, of the victims’ right to
justice, he has sneered at the pain and the struggle of the families
who have spent so long searching for their disappeared loved ones. He
has shown mercy for the killer, not for his victims.

While the amnesty deal devastated people like Marly, it was by no
means unexpected; months of calculated political wrangling preceded
the announcement. PPK pardoned Alberto Fujimori to save his own skin.
The chaos that has followed reveals that the current president has a
lot in common with his predecessor.

Simmering Chaos

From the beginning of his presidency, PPK has found himself under
attack from Keiko Fujimori and Fuerza Popular, who enjoyed a
comfortable majority in congress. The first casualty was Education
Minister Jaime Saavedra, who was ousted in December 2016 amid
allegations of diverting funds from the education budget.

Just ten months later, after a two-month teachers’ strike, the
opposition attempted to oust his successor, Marilú Martens. Hoping to
prevent the loss of a second education minister, then-Prime Minister
Fernando Zavala, also facing demands to resign, called for a vote of
confidence in the government.

The move proved disastrous, with congress voting by a margin of 77-22
to force PPK to reshuffle his entire cabinet. Meanwhile, Fuerza
Popular had been slowly filling the constitutional court with more
amenable judges and laying the groundwork to impeach the attorney
general, who was investigating irregularities in Keiko’s campaign
funding.

The coup de grace was supposed to come with an impeachment vote late
last December. The argument hinged on the revelation that, while PPK
served as Minister of Economy and Finance, his company, Westfield
Capital, received $782 million dollars in illegal payments from the
Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht, whose web of bribery and graft has
entangled much of Latin America’s ruling class, including Keiko
Fujimori
[https://www.reuters.com/article/us-peru-politics-odebrecht/peru-opposition-leader-investigated-in-connection-with-odebrecht-idUSKCN1BA063].

Fuerza Popular and its allies strongly supported impeachment, but the
Peruvian left was divided: eager to oust a president who had become a
symbol of the region’s rightward turn but wary of handing power to
the _fujimoristas_.

After more than eleven hours of deliberations, it seemed as if
Kuczynski’s fate was sealed. But, when the final tally arrived, it
was eight votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to oust the
president. Ten dissenting deputies from Fuerza Popular hugged and
cheered on the chamber floor — their abstentions guaranteed
Kuczynski’s narrow victory.

Kenji Fujimori, Keiko’s brother and the dark horse of the Fujimori
clan, led this breakaway group. Rumors immediately began to circulate
about the shady deals required to convince Kenji and the other
“Avengers,” as the dissenters called themselves, to defy Keiko.

Soon, one of their members let slip that he had received a call from
Alberto Fujimori prior to the final vote, pleading
[http://www.americatv.com.pe/noticias/actualidad/fuerza-popular-videos-muestran-llamadas-alberto-fujimori-legisladores-n304311] “do
not abandon me.” That night Kenji ominously tweeted
[https://twitter.com/KenjiFujimoriH/status/944061894092120064], “The
time has come!” accompanied by a clip from the final scene of
the _Lion King_, when Simba takes the throne as his father’s spirit
watches approvingly. Despite Kuczynski’s promises, it was clear that
the pardon was coming — and it arrived just three days later.

In late January, “a source close to the president” revealed
[https://www.reuters.com/article/us-peru-politics/exclusive-peru-political-deal-paved-way-for-fujimori-pardon-source-idUSKBN1FF2JJ] to
Reuters that the deal had been months in the making, and that
Kuczynski had brought Kenji on board at least three months before the
impeachment vote in an attempt to save himself and use the
Fujimoris’ squabbling to fracture Fuerza Popular.

In reality, the move decimated what little support PPK had left. In
the days after the announcement, several lawmakers resigned from his
party, including the ministers of the interior, culture, and defense.
Another cabinet reshuffle followed. At last count, PPK’s approval
rating sat at a dismal 19 percent
[https://www.voanews.com/a/approval-rating-fall-kuczynski-peru/4229377.html].

Meanwhile, Kenji’s popularity has surged past his sister’s, and
more disgruntled Fuerza Popular lawmakers are reportedly planning to
defect to Kenji’s Avengers.

The Man Behind the Pardon

Even today, Alberto Fujimori sharply divides Peruvian society. Despite
the mass demonstrations throughout Peru and around the world
protesting the pardon, about half
[https://www.reuters.com/article/us-peru-politics/approval-rating-falls-for-perus-kuczynski-on-fujimori-pardon-poll-idUSKBN1FH0R4] of
citizens agree with PPK’s decision. While many remember Fujimori as
a brutal dictator who ruled with an iron fist, other circles credit
him with crushing the Shining Path Maoist insurgency and bringing
stability to the nation’s faltering economy.

A former rector of the National Agrarian University, Fujimori rode
onto Peru’s political stage on the back of a tractor in 1990. He
defeated novelist Mario Vargas Llosa in an upset and became president
of a country plagued by hyperinflation and violent insurgency.

Immediately reneging on campaign promises, he set about enacting
“Fujishock
[http://www.nytimes.com/1990/08/12/world/peru-s-poor-feel-hardship-of-fuji-shock-austerity.html]”
— a series of drastic neoliberal reforms that sold off public
holdings, slashed government subsidies and employment, and created a
new currency, the Nuevo Sol. Peru’s poorest felt the effects
immediately, as prices of everyday goods like bread and milk doubled,
and the cost of cooking gas increased twenty-five-fold overnight.
International financial institutions celebrated Fujimori’s extreme
austerity, and Peru’s elites reaped the rewards of the ensuing surge
in foreign investment.

Fujimori revealed his authoritarian streak early. Facing an
opposition-dominated congress in 1992, the president launched a
self-coup. He suspended the constitution, purged the judiciary, and
parked a tank in front of congress, teargassing the chamber when
opposition lawmakers tried to hold session.

He drafted a new constitution that altered term limits and granted him
unprecedented power, then declared a state of emergency that allowed
the use of force against insurgents and political opponents alike —
making Fujimori dictator in all but name. In fact, during his very
messy and very public divorce
[http://www.nytimes.com/1994/09/11/weekinreview/the-world-a-marital-nightmare-and-all-peru-is-watching.html] two
years later, his wife, Susana Higuchi, openly denounced him as a
“tyrant.”

Nowhere was Fujimori’s authoritarianism more visible than in his
crusade against Shining Path. After over a decade of bloody
insurrection, most Peruvians would eagerly support anyone capable of
putting down the armed Maoist rebellion. Active members of the
Peruvian military under the banner of the infamous Grupo Colina death
squad launched a campaign of violence, which, a trial later
determined, had Fujimori’s express support.

Massacres ravaged the country. At Lima’s La Cantuta University, nine
students and one professor were kidnapped and murdered because of
their supposed links to Shining Path, later proven to be nonexistent.
In the northern province of Santa, Grupo Colina murdered nine peasant
farmers and put up Shining Path graffiti in an apparent false-flag
operation. At Barrios Altos, six armed men shot up a neighborhood
barbecue, killing fifteen people, including an eight-year-old boy.

Each massacre and disappearance created outspoken activists: Carmen
Amaro Condor, whose brother was murdered at La Cantuta, Rosa Rojas,
who lost her husband and son in Barrios Altos, and, of course, Marly
Anzualdo.

These women have gradually dispelled the culture of silence that
Fujimori crafted during his reign, which he enforced not only through
violent repression but also through systemic attacks on critics and
the freedom of the press. In 1991, state forces letter-bombed the
offices of the left-leaning magazine _Cambio_, killing
twenty-three-year-old journalist Melissa Alfaro. On the night of
his _coup_, Fujimori ordered the kidnapping of opposition journalist
Gustavo Goritti, and, in the run-up to the 2000 election, he bugged
and bribed media outlets.

Fujimori also conducted an outright ethnic cleansing campaign. Under
the guise of “family planning” and supported by USAID and the
United Nations Population Fund, his regime forcibly sterilized at
least 300,000 indigenous women between 1995 and 2000.

In hundreds of recorded testimonies gathered by the Quipu Project
[https://interactive.quipu-project.com/], survivors describe a system
of inhumane treatment and racism, where officials, eager to meet
sterilization quotas, would openly mock their victims, telling them
that they “breed like rabbits.” In many instances, women were
imprisoned until they had the operation. In others, doctors would
secretly anesthetize and sterilize women who had just given birth.
Today, thousands of women living in the indigenous villages of the
Andes and the Amazon bear the scars of these botched surgeries; they
are still clamoring for justice.

The cumulative effect of these scandals eventually sapped Fujimori of
his support. He began his third term in 2000 facing international
condemnation, in the wake of an election marred by allegations of
fraud and widespread abstention.

Not even two months after his inauguration, the press received
incriminating videos showing Vladimiro Montesinos, director of the
National Security Service, bribing opposition politicians to join the
ranks of the _fujimoristas_. Montesinos, who had personally
orchestrated the disappearances of Kenneth Anzualdo and Martin Roca
Casas, helped Fujimori embezzle some $600 million from the Peruvian
treasury.

Fujimori fled to Japan, where he tried to resign via hotel fax.
Congress, however, refused to accept it, opting instead to dismiss him
because of his “permanent moral incapacity.”

After evading extradition efforts for five years, Fujimori was
arrested when he arrived in Chile to launch his fourth presidential
campaign. The ensuing trial, in which he was convicted of abuse of
power, human-rights violations, kidnapping, graft, bribery, and
unlawful association, was hailed as an historic achievement. It was
the first time a democratically elected leader was convicted of human
rights-violations in his own country.

In her summary [http://fpif.org/fujimori_faces_justice/] of the
trial, Jo-Marie Burt wrote that any pardon attempt would face
challenges: under international law, those convicted of violating
human rights cannot be pardoned, and, under Peruvian law, those
convicted of kidnapping cannot be pardoned. Ironically, Fujimori added
that provision himself as part of his crusade against Shining Path.

Fujimorismo Redux

With his blatant disregard for the law and violent suppression of
peaceful protestors — not to mention the international condemnation
— it is hard not to see reflections of Fujimorismo in Pedro Pablo
Kuczynski’s Peru.

By making this Faustian bargain with the Fujimori clan, Kuczynski has
sacrificed any semblance of political integrity in the name of
clinging to power for as long as he can. Ordinary Peruvians have
already seen through his machinations. PPK couched the pardon in the
language of reconciliation, even going so far as to declare 2018 the
“year of dialogue and national reconciliation,” but 78 percent of
Peruvians
[https://peru21.pe/politica/pulso-peru-78-considera-ppk-negocio-indulto-fujimori-salvarse-vacancia-391676] recognize
the pardon for what it was — a cynical power play — and his
dismissal. To that end, Peru’s left-wing opposition has launched a
second impeachment vote second impeachment vote
[https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-01/peru-opposition-parties-plan-new-motion-to-impeach-kuczynski].

Meanwhile, proceedings in Peruvian courts and the Inter-American Court
of Human Rights in Costa Rica will likely overturn the pardon, and
Fujimori will soon stand trial over yet another massacre, this time of
six peasants in the town of Pativilca. Should Fujimori lose either of
these cases, PPK will have to choose between abandoning his alliance
with Kenji and openly defying the law. Having alienated his political
allies, the international community, and his voting public, PPK is
clearly living on borrowed time. It is unlikely that he will see his
mandate through to 2021. Regardless of how he leaves office, the
question remains: who will benefit from the fallout of these scandals?
Will beleaguered Peruvians turn to one of the Fujimori siblings or to
Peru’s ascendant left?

For Marly, what matters more is what this betrayal means for Kenneth,
for her family, and for her country. Forced once again to fight simply
to be heard, she still manages to find the energy to denounce
Fujimori, both in the courts and in the streets. Now, facing unabashed
corruption, all she can do is hope: “I hope with all my heart that
the pardon is rescinded, for the good of my country and for
justice.”

_Eimhin O’Reilly [https://twitter.com/EimhinOReilly] is a writer
and activist based in Dublin, Ireland, specializing in issues relating
to the Global South. He works for the Latin America Solidarity Centre
and Debt and Development Coalition Ireland._

_IF YOU LIKE THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE SUBSCRIBE
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