Birds of a Feather?: Fujimori’s Trial Resumes, Garcia’s Scandal Deflects Attention

Following a two-week hiatus, the trial of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori resumed on Monday, September 29. Fujimori, who served as the Andean nation’s head of state from July 1990 until November 2000, was found guilty in December 2007, and sentenced to six years in prison for authoring an illegal search of his former intelligence chief, Vladimir Montesinos’, wife’s home. Fujimori also presently faces a potential 30-year prison sentence, and is charged with crimes against humanity, stemming from the National Intelligence Service’s (SIN) role in the kidnapping of a journalist and a businessman in April 1992, which prosecutors allege was carried out under the then-President’s orders. Although Fujimori retains a measure of support in Peru for his role in positively affecting the nation’s economic and counter-insurgency woes, his methods have been widely renounced as injudicious, corrupt and appalling.

Meanwhile, an oil concession scandal surrounding the administration of Peru’s current president, Alan Garcia, has grabbed headlines and has helped avert attention from the Fujimori proceedings. Garcia, whose approval ratings now poll as low as 19 percent, has, just now, seen the voluntary departure of Juan Valdivia, his Mines and Energy Minister, which precipitated the October 9 resignation of his entire cabinet. Even before this public disgrace, however, there were popular protests against Garcia’s presidency, which Peruvians increasingly view as pervasively and incorrigibly corrupt.

Analysts also note that, like Fujimori, Garcia has shown a proclivity for disregarding human rights. In fact, Garcia’s actions reveal sentiments on the matter more akin to annoyance, perhaps even contempt. As Garcia and Fujimori share a mutual interest in discouraging demands for accountability from Peru’s civil society and judicial branch (Garcia previously served a term as president, which was marred by allegations of extensive human rights abuses), one can hardly be surprised that Garcia recently has moved to stifle human rights organizations, while finding time to sponsor a rally in support of Fujimori (See Lauren Nelson’s forthcoming COHA article, “The Legacy of Alberto Fujimori…”).