Peru in the 1990’s

By | December 21, 2021

With the Constitution of 1979 the Peru, after years marked by a succession of coups d’état and governments subject to the protection of the military, initiated a complex process of democratization, made difficult by the persistence of contradictions and unsolved problems. Poverty and strong social inequalities, a huge foreign debt, the looming presence of the army, the roots of guerrilla and terrorist organizations, the enormous interests linked to drug trafficking, hindered the path of the new democratic institutions.

Strengthened by some successes achieved in the economic field (reduction of inflation, growth of gross domestic product, stability of the currency), by the regained credibility in the international financial community and by the results achieved in the fight against terrorism, A. Fujimori in the general elections in April 1995 was confirmed as president of the Republic with 64, 4 % of the vote, defeating a candidate prestige as former UN Secretary Javier Perez de Cuellar. In the same consultations, the center-right coalition, Cambio- 90 and Nueva Mayoria, won an absolute majority of seats (67 out of 120) to the National Assembly. The clear affirmation allowed the president to continue to govern in an autocratic and personalistic way and to continue his project of strengthening the executive power. The continuous recourse to the decree laws greatly reduced the powers of the Parliament, while the judiciary was in fact placed under the control of the executive. For Peru public policy, please check

The case concerning the possibility, not foreseen by the constitutional charter, for the president to run for a third term was exemplary. Fujimori in fact managed to get a law approved by Parliament in August 1996, after a specially appointed commission legitimized a questionable interpretation of the Constitution: when, in 1997, some members of the Constitutional Court contested the correctness of the provision, Fujimori had them arrested and changed the composition of the Court itself. Meanwhile, the margins of maneuver of the opposition were further restricted by the impossibility of resorting to the instrument of the referendum, the development of which was subject to since October 1996for approval by the National Assembly. On the basis of this legislation, in August 1998, the request made by the same oppositions, gathered under the Democratic Forum cartel, to submit the law of August 1996 to popular consultation.

On the economic front Fujimori continued his liberalization policy and, thanks to the mediation of the International Monetary Fund, in July 1996 the government reached an agreement with its international creditors, pledging to cut public investments and further compress expenses in the social security sector in exchange the renegotiation of its huge external debt, which was passed in 1995 the 30 billion dollars.

The social costs of this economic policy, in a country that endured high unemployment and still severe levels of backwardness and misery, seemed to undermine the president’s popularity, already cracked by scandals involving senior government officials. Only apparently eradicated, the phenomenon of terrorism then resoundingly returned to the center of internal and international attention when, on December 17, 1996, a group of guerrillas from the Movimiento Revolucionario Túpac Amaru (MRTA) broke into the Japanese embassy in Lima during a reception. taking about 600 people hostage. The action was aimed at securing the release of 400prisoners belonging to the MRTA but also wanted to attract, with a spectacular action, the attention of world public opinion on the increase in social inequalities caused by the government’s liberal policy and on the repressive policies implemented by Fujimori against the opposition. The guerrillas released many of the hostages within a few days and remained barricaded in the embassy, ​​besieged by the army and police forces, until April 22, when President Fujimori, who had rejected the mediation proposals made by the Church, from the Red Cross and from various countries, ordered the armed attack after which all the guerrillas and one hostage were killed.

In May 1998, heedless of the increasing number of complaints for the violation of human rights advanced by many international organizations, Fujimori obtained from the Parliament the mandate to enact against draconian crime measures that extended the anti-terrorism laws to a large number of other crimes, but above all they limited the power of civil courts by expanding that of military courts. The increasingly authoritarian nature of the presidency, but also the fragility of the functioning of all the institutional mechanisms, found expression in continuous government reshuffles.

On the international level, between January and March 1995, Fr. had to face new border incidents with troops from Ecuador, in the disputed area of ​​the Cordillera del Condor. Thanks to the mediation of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and the United States, the two countries started direct talks to definitively define the disputed stretch of border, reaching the signing of the peace in October 1998 that put an end to a dispute that lasted more than fifty ‘ years. Based on the agreement reached, the border was set along the lines decided by the Rio protocol of 1942, while the Tiwintza post in Peruvian territory – the main target of the 1995 clashes-, while remaining under the sovereignty of the Peru, it became non-transferable property of Ecuador; it was also established that it could not house military forces and should be provided with a connection route to Ecuador.

The intolerance of Fujimori’s economic policy during 1999 found expression in various forms of social mobilization and in the massive adhesion to the general strike proclaimed in April by the trade unions. At the same time, the opposition seemed to have found the political basis for an agreement in view of the general elections scheduled for April 2000.

Peru Fujimori