Thursday, November 30
Fujimori has been giving interviews to tell the world that his escape to Japan was all part of a carefully laid plan: "I am pursuing a strategy. It may take some time. It may bring more criticism. I don't mind," he said in the Washington Post. Capulin Colorado! "No contaban con mi astucia!" In the New York Times, he was more subdued.
Hubert Lanssiers is an example of the memorable individuals drawn to Peru. They are quixotic figures who take on tasks that normal mortals would run away from. Lanssiers's work for prisoner rights, the release of innocents falsely convicted of crimes, and other travesties of justice stretch back more than 25 years.
Wednesday, November 29
Tuesday, November 28
Monday, November 27
Sunday, November 26
Saturday, November 25
Wednesday, November 22
Meanwhile, the National Security Archive, a posted on its website a collection of declassified U.S. documents on Vladimiro Montesinos, Fujimori's discredited security advisor. The information is disappointing. The seven documents mainly repeat charges made in the Peruvian media. Anything that might represent US comments has been blacked out. It is reassuring to know that U.S. intelligence does read the Lima newspapers. The CIA must have had very good reasons for sticking with their friend. The most damning report about CIA tolerance appeared in the Washington Post shortly after Fujimori announced he was leaving office. You will have to locate the story in the archive.
Otherwise, read Ghosts of Fujimori Stalk Peru in the LA Times.
Monday, November 20
Sunday, November 19
The question is how the country will make it to April elections and a new, stable government in July without major upheavals. The vice president Ricaro Marquez is a novice politician and will be in way over his head.
Saturday, November 18
I have added a directory for Peru-related sites. It's mainly for my own use because I find myself having to hunt down sites. So if I'm going to put together a list for myself, I might as well make it available to everyone. I'm going to make it select, removing sites that don't contribute much and adding others.
Friday, November 17
I can remember sitting in Gustavo's garden in 1990 and listening to him tell other foreign journalists about a shady former army officer who had finagled his way into Fujimori's inner circle. He was convinced from the start that Montesinos presence would soil the entire government. Gustavo began a crusade in the Caretas weekly magazine that culminated when Gustavo was forced out of the country by Montesinos's goons after the Fujimori auto-golpe in 1992.
Eight later, Gustavo in effect drove Montesinos out of town (Panama), and back to Peru, with his intense campaign to let Panamanian know what they were getting. He is an editor with La Prensa. I can see Gustavo gloating now, but he won't be satisfied until Montesinos is in prison.
The author of the Salon.com article added an interesting perspective by using Montesinos's homelessness as an example of human rights abusers in a new international legal environment (remember what happened to Pinochet when he left Chile for a health visit to London). Mark's article is better by several orders of magnitude than the one I reviewed.yesterday.
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.
Wednesday, November 15
I stumbled across a rich vein of Peruvian cultural material on the Centro Cultural Peru Virtual. Museums, libraries, literature, art and chess. My friends from the Instituto de Estudio Peruanos (IEP), who published my book on political violence, have a site. The Galeria Virtual has an exhibit of five contmeprary photographers. I have a predilection of photography. It's going to take some time for me to explore everything available.
The portal is all done very professionally, and is obviously a PR effort by Telefonica del Peru. After all, if you take a monopoly off the hands of the government, you have to give something back to the community. Telefonica (the Spanish owner) knows that it's a small price to pay on its way to dominating telecommunications in South America.
Tuesday, November 14
An Old Friend: Imagine my surprise to come across El Diario Internacional. This left-wing newspaper was hijacked by Sendero sympathizers in the late 1980s. The staff went underground after the Peruvian government cracked down on it in 1989. Then, it resurfaced in Belgium. I had not seen a website for the rag until now. In Spanish, you can see nine issues. In English, there are only two and 10 in French. I always thought that the Peruvian government should never have shut down El Diario. You learned so much about the militants' mental makeup.
Friday, November 10
I've given in to the urge. No self-respecting web-head can be without a weblog. No big deal. It's just a glorified "What's New" page.
I've spent a lot of time recently whipping this site into shape. You only get better by working at it. You only learn how to use the Web by wrestling with it and living it. Part of the fight is to raise the level beyond I saw these sites today and I liked them. There are lots of observers who have noted that many weblogs end up quoting other sites of similar ilk. We'll see if I can get beyond that. For that matter, look at the rest of the site to see if it's got its own slant.
Now that I've got that over, I can get on to more important things.