The Fall of Peru's Bloody Dictator
U.S. Puppet Fujimori Escapes to Japan
Revolutionary Worker #1081, December 3, 2000, posted at http://rwor.org
The U.S. power structure has been facing major problems in its own presidential election process. Meanwhile, in Peru, the U.S. imperialists are conducting a "presidential transition" of their puppet regime.
On November 20, Peru's President Alberto Fujimori announced his resignation--through a letter that he sent from Japan while on an official government trip. Peru's Congress, dominated by bourgeois opposition parties, refused to accept Fujimori's resignation and instead declared that they had kicked him out of office for being "morally unfit." The Congress then chose a replacement president, Valentin Paniagua, who heads one of the opposition parties.
Fujimori is a much hated enemy of the oppressed people of Peru and around the world. His regime tortured, imprisoned, and murdered many thousands of revolutionaries, peasants, workers, student activists, and others. With backing and direction from the U.S., the Fujimori regime has carried out a savage counter-revolutionary war against the People's War led by the Communist Party of Peru (PCP). Under his presidency, the number of Peruvians living in poverty doubled and 36,000 children died each year because of starvation and preventable disease--while international capitalists profited enormously from exploiting the people and resources of Peru. Fujimori is truly a war criminal with the blood of the people on his hands.
The U.S. goes around the world piously claiming to be upholders of justice and threatening to prosecute war criminals. But this is a tactic that the U.S. uses against its enemies and those who stand in its way. Fujimori was a hitman for U.S. imperialism, so he has been allowed to hide in Japan (an imperialist country which also supported his regime), thousands of miles away from the wrath of the people of Peru. He reportedly has at his disposal tens of millions of dollars in secret bank accounts--gathered through corruption during his years in office.
Fujimori joins a list of brutal U.S.-backed tyrants--such as Marcos of the Philippines and Duvalier of Haiti--who were packed off to comfortable exile when the U.S. imperialists decided they should "move on" so that a new face could be put on a puppet regime. (Sometimes the U.S. takes a more forceful approach to such a transition--as when a Marine invasion force kidnapped Panama's Manuel Noriega and brought him to the U.S., where he was thrown into jail.)
The U.S. is now trying hypocritically to distance itself from its former dictator--but not completely. A U.S. "think tank" official said that Fujimori "will be given credit in the economic and security areas but will be blamed for not taking advantage of the opportunity to lead the country toward a more stable democracy." From the viewpoint of the U.S. imperialists, Fujimori's counter-insurgency against the People's War and the "opening up" of Peru to foreign investors were just fine. What the U.S. is attempting to disassociate itself from now is the blatant corruption and the ragged façade of "democracy" under his regime which threatened to cause greater instability and affect U.S. interests in Peru and elsewhere.
Crimes of a U.S.-Backed Dictator
When Fujimori took over as president in 1990, the Peruvian rulers had already been carrying out years of vicious counter-insurgency against the Maoist people's war, which began in 1980. In 1983 and 1984 alone, the Peruvian military killed 8,700 people, mainly poor peasants, in an effort to crush the revolution.
Fujimori took this dirty war to a new level. At his side was his right-hand man, Vladimiro Montesinos--a long-time CIA contact who controlled Peru's notorious secret police, the National Intelligence Service (SIN). In 1992 Fujimori, Montesinos, and the army generals staged a coup that gave Fujimori dictatorial powers. The regime began to carry out even more brutal and sweeping forms of repression against the revolutionary movement.
A few weeks after the coup, army troops entered Canto Grande prison and massacred 40 political prisoners--mostly PCP members and supporters. Much of the country was put under emergency military rule, with all constitutional rights suspended. The police carried out huge sweeps in the shantytowns, arresting thousands of people at a time. Death squads organized by Montesinos carried out "disappearances" and murders of revolutionaries and supporters of the People's War.
In 1993 the regime launched a counter-insurgency offensive (Fujimori called it "Little Vietnam") in the jungles of Peru, aimed at the PCP and their mass support. In combined air-ground operations, helicopter gunships fired indiscriminately into villages--and then army patrols came in to burn down homes, rape women, and finish off the survivors.
With U.S. funds, the Fujimori regime set up a system of secret courts--where judges wear hoods to hide their identity, defendants are deprived of all rights, and statements and false accusations obtained through torture are regularly used against them. These courts have railroaded over 5,000 people accused of the political crime of "terrorism."
The CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies helped the Fujimori regime track down and arrest many leaders of the PCP, including Chairman Gonzalo who was captured in 1992. Chairman Gonzalo has been held for years in isolation and under brutal conditions. Today thousands of political prisoners--mostly convicted for being members or supporters of the PCP--are held in deadly jails where they suffer starvation, exposure to cold, and torture.
On the economic front, Fujimori faithfully followed the dictates of the IMF and other imperialist financial institutions. The U.S. and other powers praised the regime for launching an "economic miracle" in Peru. In reality, this meant that the doors were opened even wider for foreign capitalists to come into Peru and reap profits off the backs of the people. State enterprises were "privatized" and sold for bargain prices. These policies have enriched a small section of Peru's elite--while over half of Peru's people live in extreme poverty.
Downfall of the Regime--and the Hand of the U.S.
As long as the U.S. was satisfied with the job that Fujimori and Montesinos were doing, these two henchmen received strong U.S. backing. After the 1992 coup, the U.S. government made a few token criticisms about Fujimori undermining "democracy" and threatened some cut-backs in aid. But the flow of U.S. military "advisers," helicopters, and weapons to the Fujimori regime continued. The U.S. claims that this aid is for "fighting drugs" in Peru--but the real target of this intervention has been the PCP and the People's War.
More recently, however, the U.S. has become increasingly concerned about the situation in Peru. Earlier this year, Fujimori ran for a third term as president--in face of fierce opposition from other bourgeois forces. He fired three Supreme Court justices who ruled that his run for a third term was unconstitutional. Montesinos sent in troops to threaten or shut down mainstream newspapers and TV for carrying reports harmful to the regime.
Fujimori won the election through massive and widely-exposed fraud and corruption. The U.S. imperialists are no strangers to fraudulent elections; they have backed or arranged many such elections around the world (and in recent weeks the world has seen that the vaunted "democratic elections" within the U.S. are also full of scandalous goings-on). But as Fujimori began his new term, angry protesters clashed with Fujimori's troops, and dissension within Peru's political elite intensified. The U.S. worried that the political turmoil endangered its interests in Peru and in Latin America overall. And international investors became jittery about the safety of their stakes in Peru.
Things quickly began to unravel for the regime after the public exposure of a videotape which caught Montesinos handing a $15,000 bribe to an opposition politician. Montesinos is rumored to have a huge collection of incriminating videos that he used to threaten and pressure others. But this time he was on the receiving end of a "dirty trick" himself. The exact circumstances behind this video exposure are still unclear. But it should be noted that this spymaster had close ties to the CIA, the world's foremost experts in "dirty tricks."
Fujimori was forced to sack Montesinos, who fled to Panama with U.S. help. Montesinos has since then returned to Peru, under the protection of his allies in the armed forces. His return sparked new street protests, uproar within Peru's ruling class, and a mutiny in the military. His current whereabouts are unclear.
On September 16, Fujimori suddenly announced that he himself would soon step down. Meanwhile, Fujimori held a series of meetings with high-level U.S. government and military officials. The exact contents of those talks are not known, but it would not be surprising if Fujimori was given a script written by the U.S. for an "end game," including a "surprise" resignation letter from Japan.
Under Peru's constitution, the second vice president, Ricardo Marquez, was in line to replace Fujimori after he resigned. But the U.S. clearly felt that Marquez was too closely associated with Fujimori--and that if he became president, the facelift of the puppet regime would not be successful. A Clinton administration official revealed that the U.S. ambassador to Peru, John Hamilton, told Marquez straight up that he "does not have U.S. support." The official told the New York Times, "We think Paniagua should be the guy." And two top Clinton administration officials in charge of Latin America policy just "happened" to be in Peru when Fujimori announced his resignation.
Paniagua is being called a "caretaker" president. New elections are scheduled for next spring, and the current U.S. favorite for a more permanent replacement puppet in Peru is Alejandro Toledo--an economist who was trained in the U.S. and who has worked for the World Bank. While promoting himself as a "democratic" opponent of Fujimori, Toledo has made clear he will follow the Fujimori regime's basic policies.
The U.S. imperialists say that Fujimori's departure is an opportunity for a "new democratic era" in Peru. But Fujimori was the representative of Peru's semi-feudal, comprador bureaucrat bourgeois ruling classes who are closely tied to, and act in service of, the imperialist powers, especially the U.S. Whoever comes out as the new face of the regime, the oppressive nature of this system will basically remain the same.
This system can not solve the pressing problems and hardships that the masses of people in Peru face. The People's War led by the PCP offers a real way out for the people--a liberating road of overthrowing the old, rotten order and creating a whole new society. This is why the Peruvian regime and its imperialist backers have tried so hard and so viciously to crush this revolution. But despite all that has been thrown at them, the PCP has continued to lead the people in revolutionary war.
As Fujimori cowardly sent in his resignation from far away, and as the U.S. moves to put a new face on the murderous regime, the Communist Party of Peru is leading the people in the fight for a very different future--a Peru completely free from the yoke of global imperialism and the rule of the local butchers and tyrants.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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