Sunday, 5 April 2009

Peru: 5 April, 1992, 'Autogolpe'

On 5 April 1992 President Alberto Fujimori dissolved Congress, sent tanks onto the streets and installed himself as a dictator. It's known as the 'self-coup', since he replaced himself in power. Essentially, acting as an elected politician, with all that tiresome debating, voting, and waiting for permission from Congress, wasn't enough for him. Events will be commemorating this in Lima today.

On 7 April 2009, the verdict is expect in his trial for human rights abuses, which has been in progress since December 2007. It's supposed to be announced at 9am local time.

Fujimori has been trying to deflect attention onto Peru's other presidents as the trial ends. I go by the old "two wrongs don't make a right" rule, so I don't see it as relevant for his case (if you kill someone, does that mean I can go ahead and do it too?!), but I do think that the current president of Peru, Alan Garcia, has some reason to be worried.
"What's the difference? Why are Alan Garcia and Fernando Belaunde innocent and Fujimori is guilty? Why the double standard?" Fujimori asked the court.
Belaunde is not "innocent", he's dead. You can't try a dead person. Were he still alive, I think there would be a case to investigate his responsibility for some of the atrocities committed by the armed forces in the early years of the conflict. As for Garcia, investigations have so far concluded he does not have a case to answer for the major horrors of his first presidency (1985-1990). I'm unconvinced. My judgement according to the reading I've done would suggest that he ordered multiple extrajudicial executions during the prison uprisings, for one thing. I believe that order came from the very top and I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't have to answer to it at some point in the future. These things have a habit of catching up with people eventually.

But for now, the man in the dock is Fujimori. I'm expecting a guilty verdict, as I think most people are. I will be astonished if the outcome is good for Fujimori, but I don't want to pre-empt the court any more than that. Let's see what happens on Tuesday.

Fujimori swings at Peru's ex-presidents in defense (AP)

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