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Thursday, November 16

News out of Lima seem to indicate that President Alberto Fujimori's hold on power may be getting more tenuous. The oppostion congressional block booted out the pro-government legislative president (Martha Hildebrandt). The New York Times reports her likely replacement may be Valentin Paniagua. Fujimori may not be able to hold to the presidency until July next year, as he has offered, and have to step down sooner. I knew Paniagua when he served in the Peruvian Congress in 1981-1985 as a member of Fernando Belaunde's Popular Action party. He was one of the few in the party that I respected as a thoroughly decent man.

Since chief spy Vladamir Montesino's downfall two months ago, Fujimori's fortunes have declined really quickly. From New Age strongman to lame duck practically overnight. Fujimori and Montesinos have been so closely intertwined over the past decade, it is really hard to see how their fates could be separated.

Political Prisoners in Peru and the US Media I also waded through a long article about US TV coverage of Lori Berensen, the American convicted of treason in Peru. Danny Schechter of mediachannel.org was driving home his own message about the major media being prisoners of professional/cultural blindness. He could stand to get some of his facts straight. He said that "the MRTA, which hoped to become a democratic opposition, were never allowed to move in that direction and felt forced into armed struggle." MRTA scoffed at the Marxist left that participated in elections and democracy. Its leaders were firmly convinced that armed revolution -- los fierros -- was the only realistic approach and that the left wing congressmen and mayors would soon be joining them in the jungle. They were worried that Sendero was going to corner the market of reviolutionary violence in Peru.

Danny Schechter is a prisoner himself -- of a romantized image of Latin America and its downtrodden masses, basically thinking that Peru is the same as Nicaragua/El Salvador. He complained about the US media not being able to see the poverty in the country, but he was unable to understand the undercurrents that made Peru take a tough approach to guerrilla/terrorist violence and led the populace and the government to turn their back on due process and human rights. He should check out my web page on Peruvian politics and violence.

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