Some 50,000 Peruvians filled Lima's Plaza San Martín to recall the April 5, 1992 "autogolpe" (suspension of civil government) by then-president Alberto Fujimori—and to repudiate the presidential ambitions of his daughter Keiko Fujimori, front-runner with the election just five days away. (La República) The mobilization came just as candidate Fujimori (of the right-wing Fuerza Popular party) and three of her rivals have been implicated in the "Panama Papers" revelations. Prime Minister Pedro Cateriano announced via Twitter that the revelations must be investigated promptly. The 11 million documents leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca name political figures from around the world as hiding assets in offshore accounts. Peruvian public-interest media outlet Ojo Publico was a key conduit for the leak. (PeruThisWeek, Andina)
Left-populist presidential candidate Gregorio Santos Guerrero insists he will run in Peru's April election—despite remaining behind bars at Ancón I prison outside Lima. Santos, affectionately known as "Goyo," was already re-elected to the presidency of the northern region of Cajamarca from prison in 2014, and officially remains the region's executive. He says his "preventative detention" under pending corruption charges is political retaliation for his advocacy for the peasants and poor of Cajamarca—especially his support of the region's popular struggle against the US-backed Conga gold mine mega-project, now stalled due to widespread protests. In a statement this month, he said he would not be detained "if the law were applied equally," and scoffed at the notion that he was a flight risk while officially serving as a regional president. While Santos has been imprisoned, Cajamarca's acting executive has been his vice president, Porfirio Medina. (Peru.com, Feb. 12; Andina, Feb. 10; La Republica, Feb. 1)
Peru's government on Nov. 6 issued a decree calling for an investigation into the forced sterilization of poor and peasant women under the regime of now-imprisoned former president Alberto Fujimori. "Never again in Peru can we implement a policy of fighting poverty by violating the reproductive rights of poor families," President Ollanta Humala said in a televsised address announcing the move. Justice Ministry Decree 006-2015 orders formation of a National Registry of Forced Sterilization Victims and establishment of a "legal framework to implement" restitution, including legal assistance, psychological treatment and healthcare. Some 350,000 women and 25,000 men were sterilized as part of the mid-1990s program, although it is unclear how many of these were coercive. Government health workers went door-to-door to coax, cajole and bully women into submitting to sterilization, according to accounts from poor rural communities. Many survivors say they were threatened with a fine or prison if they refused to be sterilized. Advocates who have been pressing for an official investigation view the campaign as one of Peru's biggest human rights scandals. (Jezebel, Nov. 9; Peru This Week, Nov. 6; Reuters, June 7)
After a trial lasting more than a year, on Jan. 8 a Peruvian court sentenced former president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) to eight years in prison for embezzlement. The court found that between 1998 and 2000 Fujimori diverted some $43 million from the military to the National Intelligence Service (SIN) in order to pay tabloid dailies to follow the government's editorial line. The colorful tabloids—known in Peru as "diarios chicha" after a popular musical style—supported Fujimori's campaign for reelection in 2000 by characterizing his opponents as communists, homosexuals and spies; some of the papers were actually created by Fujimori's government for the purpose. The former president claimed in court on Dec. 29 that he didn't know about the diversion of the money. In addition to the prison sentence, Fujimori lost his right to hold public office for three years and was ordered to pay a fine of 3 million soles (about US$1 million). (RRP, Peru, Jan. 8; El País , Madrid, Jan. 8, from correspondent)
A state prosecutor on Jan. 24 cleared Peru's imprisoned ex-president Alberto Fujimori of charges that he was responsible for the forced sterilization of thousands of indigenous peasant women in the 1990s. Marco Guzmán Baca of Lima's Second Subprovinicial Penal Prosecutor also announced that no charges will be brought against former health ministers Alejandro Aguinaga, Marino Costa Bauer and Eduardo Yong Motta. Speaking to Comercio newspaper, he said his investigation failed to find a "hierarchical and rigidly vertical power structure" in the Health Ministry such as exists in the military. He also said that while the "physical integrity" of women had sometimes been improperly threatened, in no cases were sterilizations actually forced. The only charges will be brought against six doctors implicated in the death of a woman who was sterilized in Cajamarca. (Peru This Week, Jan. 25; Comercio, La Republica, Peru.com, Jan. 24)
The Peruvian blogosphere is abuzz with rumors of an imminent coup d'etat against President Ollanta Humala, fomented by elements of the opposition APRA party. Humala has reportedly put off all travel abroad and is limiting his trips into the interior of the country, staying close to Lima for fear of a move against his government if he leaves the capital. The National Intelligence Directorate (DINI) has reportedly warned that elements of the National Police are discussing a strike over various greivances, actually aimed at causing an explosion of chaos and debilitating the government—following the model of the right-wing coup of Feb. 5, 1975, that brought Francisco Morales Bermúdez to power. Humala is said to have lost the confidence of the Armed Forces Joint Command, which is unhappy with his execution of the counter-insurgency program in Apurímac-Ene River Valley (VRAE), where a remnant faction of the Sendero Luminoso guerillas remains active. (Raúl Weiner in La Mula, Dec. 23)
The Penal Chamber of Peru's Supreme Court on July 21 affirmed its acquittal of imprisoned former intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos of homicide charges related to the 1997 military raid on the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima after it was seized by guerillas of the now-defunct Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA). Two commandos, one hostage, and all 14 of the guerillas were killed in the operation, code-named "Chavín de Huantar." Two commandos who oversaw the operaiton, Nicolás Hermoza Ríos and Roberto Huamán Azcurra, were also cleared of homicide charges in the ruling. The three had been acquitted last October, but prosecutors requested a review of the earlier ruling on the basis of forensic evidence. The high court admitted that at least one of the "terrorists" (as the guerrillas are almost universally refered to in Peru's press), Eduardo Cruz Sánchez AKA "Tito," had been "executed"—shot to the head after he had already surrendered to the commandos. But the court found that it could not be determined who shot him, or if orders were given for the killing.
The death of former Argentine dictator Gen. Jorge Rafael Videla (1976-1981) on May 17 brings to seven the number of Latin American and Caribbean de facto heads of state who are now in prison or facing criminal charges for their acts while in power. All but one were charged in the last decade.