Peruvian President Ollanta Humala indicated Wednesday that his government had received no formal request from former President Alberto Fujimori’s family for an official humanitarian pardon from the state. However, according to Fujimori’s lawyer, César Nakazaki, Fujimori is planning to ask for a pardon sometime this week, with legal documents expected to be submitted this Friday.
Fujimori is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence for human rights violations that occurred during his 1990-2000 presidency. The sentence was handed down in 2009 after Fujimori was linked to the massacre of 25 people by the Grupo Colina paramilitary death squad in the early 1990s and the kidnapping of a businessman and a journalist in 1992. About 70,000 people died in Peru’s internal conflict, which occurred as the government launched an offensive against the Maoist-inspired Shining Path rebels.
Fujimori, 74, is currently suffering from oral cancer and has undergone five operations since 1997, according to his daughter, Keiko Fujimori, who ran for president in 2011. In September, Fujimori’s family said that the former president would seek a humanitarian pardon. “I will continue to fight for my health, my liberty and my innocence,” the elder Fujimori said in a letter.
Humala has said he will not grant the former president a pardon unless he or his family expressly requests one. “There’s nothing written on this topic, and therefore, it’s not on the government’s agenda right now,” said Humala during a press conference at a hotel in Miraflores.
Fujimori’s son, Kenji Fujimori, said his father would not ask for forgiveness for crimes that he didn’t commit, but that he may be willing to admit he was at fault for certain “errors” during his administration.
The Fujimori family says that the former president is focusing on his health, but some Peruvian politicians have speculated that the elder Fujimori could re-enter politics in 2016. “For grave crimes against humanity, Fujimori was only sentenced to 25 years; there was no permanent disqualification [from politics]because the Public Ministry never asked for one,” said Congressman Heriberto Benítez.
Three days before the national vote, electoral observers cite grave concerns: unequal access to media outlets for the opposition candidate; media bias favoring the incumbent; smear campaigns against the opposition; and use of state resources for electoral advantage. Could these courageous observers be finally calling out the abuses of President Hugo Chávez and his government against challenger Henrique Capriles Radonski in the run-up to Venezuela’s 2012 election?
Sadly, no. Those allegations were in 2000 against then-Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori as he tried to run for re-election. Despite a parade of abuses similar to those of 2000, the international community has remained mute on Venezuela.
The contrast between 2000 Peru and Venezuela today is a depressing statement about how far the standards for free and fair elections have declined, as well as the international community’s new tolerance for autocrats who cynically assert national sovereignty to avoid scrutiny over fundamental human and democratic rights.
With a unified, rejuvenated and optimistic opposition and his Bolivarian revolution showing real cracks, President Chávez is facing his first serious electoral challenge since 1998. Chávez’ charisma may still ring strong with the poorer segments of the electorate that constitute his chavista base, but a growing segment of voters remain unconvinced that his revolution is delivering positive outcomes.
Peruvian congresswoman and presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori leads a field of likely candidates for Peru’s 2011 presidential elections, according to an Ipsos poll released on Sunday in Lima. Ms. Fujimori, the daughter of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, was the top choice for 22 percent of likely voters. Lima Mayor Luis Castañeda closely trailed her with 20 percent, while former President Alejandro Toledo is in third place with 14 percent.
Ms. Fujimori, who is known as a conservative lawmaker, says she will refrain from a “radical’’ economic path and would continue with the pro-growth strategies of recent years. “There’s no doubt Keiko would pursue her father’s policies to promote a free-market,” says Miguel Palomino, head of the Peruvian Institute of Economics.
Human rights activists have criticized Ms. Fujimori for openly admitting that she would release her father—currently imprisoned for corruption, embezzlement, and kidnapping. “I trust that my father will be declared innocent, but if the time comes, and if I am president, I won’t hesitate to grant amnesty to any person that I believe is innocent and punish those who are criminals,” according to the candidate.
From the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.
Peru's PM to Resign, Push for End of Decrees that Sparked Amazon Conflict
Peruvian Prime Minister of Peru Yehude Simon announced that the government will ask congress to eliminate decrees 1090 and 1064, which are among the laws at the core of the violent clashes between protesters and police on June 5. Those clashes claimed dozens of lives. Simon also said that he would resign from office as soon after the stand-off with indigenous people in Peru’s Amazon was resolved. The government also granted permission for indigenous leader Alberto Pizango to leave the country after he was granted political asylum by the Nicaraguan government.
An Americas Quarterly web exclusive goes into detail about the set of controversial decrees and how they fueled popular discontent that led to the clashes. Furthermore, AQ offers ongoing coverage of the conflict in a dedicated “Issues In-Depth” section.