Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fujimori nunca más

Students from my university
As I was lying in my bed Thursday night trying to sleep, I could still hear the echoes of the thousands of protesters as they marched through the streets of Lima. "Con justicia y dignidad, Fujimori nunca más." "La juventud consciente. No elije un delicuente." "Chino, chino, chino. Corrupto y asesino." ... Earlier that day, the National Coordinator of Human Rights organized the "With Justice and Dignity, Fujimori No More" march to remember the victims of the government of former Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori and to protest the candidacy of his daughter, Keiko Fujimori.

Paper maché Fuji-rata
As I have been involved with part of the campaign against Fujimori, I eagerly attended the march. It was perhaps one of the most unforgettable experiences I've had in Peru so far. I will not forget the sound of thousands of footsteps marching through the street, the passionate, perpetual chants of the activists, the angry horns of the taxis and combis caught in the middle of the mobilization, and the buzz of the spray cans as the protesters inundated the streets in graffiti as we walked. An estimated 10,000-15,000 people attended the march from all sectors of society- lawyers, human rights activists, students, family members of the victims, religious groups, doctors, victims of forced sterilization... Regardless of the their background, everyone present was united by their sincerity and passion to remember the injustices of the Fujimori dictatorship and to prevent it from being resurrected. People of all ages held handmade signs and banners and paraded through the streets with paper maché caricatures of the fujimoristas.

Some crucial background info:
My friend Dorita
Alberto Fujimori was elected president of Peru in 1990, a time in which Peru was struggling with a developing economy and combating two left-wing terrorist groups, Sendero Luminoso and the MRTA. Although he explicitly opposed an economic shock doctrine in his campaign, he instituted a policy of economic shock shortly after assuming power, augmenting already high poverty levels (which had fomented the terrorism in the first place). In 1993, he suspended congress and issued a new constitution to give himself and his party more control over the state apparatus. In 2000, Fujimori was re-reelected president of Peru through fraudulent elections, though public protests eventually forced him to resign (via a fax message) and flee to Japan, where he claimed citizenship. 

During his regime, it is estimated that Fujimori stole $6 billion from the state, making him the most corrupt Peruvian president and the seventh most corrupt president in the world of all time. In 2009, he was extradited to Peru and found culpable of crimes against humanity because of the assassinations and tortures he authorized. In the two most famous examples, Fujimori's death squad, Grupo Colina, masascred innocent Peruvians (including a child) in Barrios Altos and disappeared, tortured, and murdered 9 students and a professor at La Cantuta University. Fujimori is also guilty for his population control plan which forcibilly sterilized thousands of rural, peasant women. He was also found guilty of embezzlement and bribery. After the trails, Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years in prison, where he now resides and receives hundreds of visits per day. The campaign trucks of his daughter are regularly spotted outside the prison, and some speculate that he is running her campaign.

Catolica University remembers
the victims at La Cantuta.
Despite the fujimoristas legacy of corruption, fear, and massacres, Keiko Fujimori is the frontrunner in the second round of national elections. Keiko has done little to distance her self from her father's dictatorship. She repeatedly refers to his government as "el mejor gobierno de todos los tiempos" (''the best government of all time") and her Plan de Gobierno (Government plan) frequently references her father's government. While her father was president, Keiko essentially became the Primera Dama (First Lady) after her mother separated from her father. Keiko's mother denounced the corruption of Fujimori's regime, and was supposedly tortured in the notorious Sotonos SIE for doing so. Additionally, taxpayers payed hundreds of thousands of dollars for Keiko (and her three siblings) to attend university at expensive schools in the US. Aside from all this, Keiko has done very little in her political career besides skipping an alarming amount of congressional sessions and only authoring 6 marginally important bills in her entire career. 

Why then, are people supporting Keiko? In Lima, many members of the middle and upper class see her as the lesser of two evils. Her opponent, left-wing military strongman Ollanta Humala, is consistently branded by the right-wing press as a Hugo-Chavez figure who would undo all of the economic development Peru has experienced. In rural areas, the fujimoristas operate a sort of political machine or patron-clientilism where they build (poor quality) schools and give handouts for votes that the constituents have now become dependent on.

Who will win on July 5th? Protests all throughout Peru, culminating in the protest in Lima on Thursday, have shown that the legacy of Alberto Fujimori will not be forgotten. However, the majority of the press has backed Keiko, and some news stations have even fired commentators for supporting Ollanta, overshadowing the voice of these people. If Keiko wins, I have no doubt that the protesters will once again hit the streets, but this times with their cries even louder than before... that is, if Keiko doesn't have her own death squad in place by then to stop them.

1 comment:

  1. Glad I read that, and that sounds like quite an experience. Thanks for keeping me in the know :)