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Fujimori Era

What allowed President Alberto Fujimori to become a kind of Asiatic despot in the Andes?

Fujimori officialized the dollarization of the Peruvian economy
Susana Pastor, TAFOS, 1996, Lima
Dollars changing hands on Lima street corners, Susana Pastor, TAFOS, 1996, Lima

On the other hand, Fujimori was almost wholly dependent on Vladimiro Montesinos for control of the political scene. Montesinos was able to muster enormous resources of intelligence, even cutting across the lines of the armed and police forces. He also made sure that rivals for Fujimori's attention, including Fujimori's brother, Santiago, were removed from the scene. In the end, Fujimori came to depend only on Montesinos.

Fujimori left no organized support. The political party and movement that he created, Cambio 90 and Nueva Mayoria, won only four seats in the 2001 congressional races (4.8 percent of the nationwide valid votes). A year before, Fujimori grabbed a majority in Congress. In the presidential race, Carlos Bolaña of Solución Popular got 1.7% of the national vote and his party got 3.6% of the congressional vote

Other Opinions

Anyone wanting to understand the situation needs to look at Making and Unmaking Authoritarian Peru: Relection, Resistance, and Regime Transition (Adobe Acrobat file) by Catherine M. Conaghan if you want to understand what's happening in Peru today. She is a Professor of Political Science at Queen's College in Kingston, Ontario. She and Julio Carrión created Peru Election 2000 and Peru Post Election 2000 websites. The University of Miami's North-South Center publishes this fascinating reconstructs the last five-years of Alberto Fujimori, drawing on the Vladi-videos coming out on a weekly schedule.

WOLA's Coletta Youngers published an article, Fujimori's Rentless Pursuit of Re-election in NACLA's quarterly. Coletta is an experienced observer. NACLA has long been a valuable source of in depth reporting on Peru, but it does not put its articles online.

Alberto Fujimori of Peru - The President Who Dared to Dream by Rei Kimura. Published by Beekman Publishers, Inc (New York, USA). It is also available on Amazon.

Fujimori publishes his own website from Japan. It is only in Spanish. Fujimoristas brings together some of his supports. During the Japanese Embassy crisis, Fujimori was interviewed by the PBS NewsHour on February 3, 1997.


This is a provisional timeline. Some trends are hard to pin down with specific dates.

Prior to the 1990 elections campaign, Alberto Fujimori's claim to fame had been serving as the president (Rector) of the National Agrarian University in La Molina. He did not have a very distinguished record there because of his tendency to rely on a small group of supporters and an inability to delegate responsibilities. A significant indication of this tendency was an inability to spend several million dollars in US AID funding. He was a mathematician by training so his agricultural and administrative expertise was limited.


June: Fujimori comes out a pack of presidential candidates to beat novelist Mario Vargas Llosa in a runoff presidential election with 57 percent of the vote. Vargas Llosa ran a free-market, pro-business campaign while Fujimori garnered the votes of most center and left voters. Fujimori promised that he would not institute drastic economic measures as demanded by the International Monetary Fund.

July 28: Fujimori succeeds President Alan Garcia who left behind a bankrupt government and hyperinflation. Fujimori does not have a congressional majority. He forms a broadly based coalition government that includes centrist and left wing politicians.

Fujimori hires a shadowy, former Army capitan and lawyer, Vladimiro Montesinos, as his security advisor.

August 8: The first measure of economic shock therapy applied, when the government ends all subsidies and prices quadruple.


March 11: The second stage of shock therapy is implemented. Sweeping privatization launched, borders are opened.

Shining Path's insurgency gains momentum and becomes increasing brazen in urban centers.


April 5: A presidential "coup d'etat" (auto-golpe) takes place. With the backing of the military, Fujimori suspends the Constitution and dissolves parliament, which has refused to support his reforms. He takes advantage of a groundswell of disgust with the traditional political parties.

May-August: Political situation turns dicey as Sendero insurgents intensify urban offensive with bombings in Lima, wave of brazen assassination and armed strike.

July 18: nine students and a professor were disappeared from the Enrique Guzmén y Valle University outside Lima, widely known as “La Cantuta” and considered a Sendero stronghold. The La Cantuta disappearances are the best-researched incident of death squads operating under the auspices of the government intelligence system.

September 12: Abimael Guzman, leader of the Maoist rebel group Shining Path, is captured. The breakthrough gives Fujimori the political support to overcome opposition protest and international pressure.


December 11: A new constitution introducing a unicameral parliament and a presidential system of government is adopted.


February 28: Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica buys Peru's national telephone company. Major influx of investment from abroad fuels economy.

Some 6,000 Shining Path guerrillas, activists and recruits surrender to the authorities.


January 26: Hostilities with Ecuador break out over Ecuador's longstanding claims on Amazon territory. A Peruvian border post in the Amazon region is fired at by an Ecuadorian army unit.

February 17: The two countries reach a cease fire.

March 9: Fujimori wins a second presidential term with more than 64 percent of the vote, defeating former UN secretary general Javier Perez de Cuellar. Political parties in disarray. U.S.-educated policy wonk, Alejandro Toledo, runs a dismal presidential campaign. His party does not win a seat in the new Congress.

July 28: Fujimori begins his second term in office.


July 20: Peru signs agreement with the International Monetary Fund to finance the restructuring of its economy.

August 23: A law allowing Fujimori to interpret the constitution in a way that would make it possible for him to run for a third consecutive term in office is adopted.

December 17: Tupac Amaru rebels take hostages at the Japanese ambassador's residence during a reception attended by about 400 guests.


April 22: Elite army troops put an end to the hostage crisis. Seventy-four hostages are freed, two soldiers and one hostage killed during the operation. Fujimori makes show of commanding the operation. He reaches the pinnacle of his political support. No MRTA militants survive the raid, leading to charges that some were killed in cold blood.

May 29: Congress removed three constitutional court judges who had questioned Fujimori's right to run for a third term in office.


October 26: in Brasilia, Peru and Ecuador sign a peace accord putting an end to their border conflict. Fujimori exercises political leadership to settle a festering international problem.

Economy shows clear signs of running out of gas.


November 13: Peru and Chile sign an accord, ending their more than a century-long border dispute. Fujimori consolidates political initiative to secure Peru's borders.

Fujimori and Montesinos undercut potential political rivals for next general elections with dirty tactics and blackballing.


February-March: Alejandro Toledo emerges from the candidate pack to challenge Fujimori in the presidential race.

April 9: Presidential and parliamentary elections are held. Fujimori wins, but must face a runoff with Toledo. Major protests about vote fraud. Vote tallies do not add up.

May 29: Fujimori reelected for a third consecutive five-year term with nearly 52 percent of the vote, but fraud complaints continue.

Early September: Story breaks that top security advisor Vladimiro Montesinos had paid opposition congressmen to switch sides. His own secretly taped videos expose him.

September 16: Fujimori calls new presidential and parliamentary elections, saying he will no longer be a candidate for public office, in effect, renouncing power.

September 24: Secret police chief Vladimiro Montesinos, implicated in a bribery and other scandals, flees to Panama seeking asylum. Fujimori gives him $15 million in "severance pay."

October 10: Congress approves Fujimori's plan to stand down on July 28, 2001.

October 23: Montesinos returns to Peru, sparking a political crisis. He claims Fujimori approved his return.

October 29: Army Colonel Ollanta Humala leads 50 men in an open rebellion against Fujimori's administration.

November 10: Fujimori win approval from Congress for elections on April 8 2001.

November 13: Fujimori leaves for a visit to Brunei for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

November 16: Valentin Paniagua, an opponent of Fujimori, takes over as president of Congress after the pro-Fujimori leadership lose a confidence vote.

November 17: Fujimori travels to Tokyo from Brunei for an international conference. He says he may run for a seat in Peru's Congress in April.

November 19: Prime Minister Federico Salas announces that Fujimori will resign by Tuesday. Government ministers present their resignation en bloc.

November 21: Paniagua becomes interim president to oversee elections on April 6, 2001. Congress declares Fujimori "morally unfit" to govern.


March 2 : Peruvian judge orders former president Fujimori to appear in court on charges of dereliction of duty.

May: The president of the Supreme Court and nine senior judges are removed from their posts over alleged links with the fugitive former intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos. The Peruvian deputy Treasury Minister, Alfredo Jalilie, resigns over allegations that he was instrumental in paying Montesinos $15 million to leave Peru.

April 8: General elections held -- no clear winner in the congressional races.

June - Presidential run-off elections are held. A center-left economist, Alejandro Toledo, defeats former president Alan Garcia in a race that was closer than expected. Garcia reassert himself as the leader of the opposition.

Former intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos is apprehended in Venezuela, flown back to Peru and held in the country's top security prison. Charges against him include drug trafficking, arms dealing and human rights violations.

July 28: Toledo takes office

September: Supreme Court judge issues international arrest warrant for former president Alberto Fujimori, who is in self-exile in Japan.