EL ESPECTADOR

In Peru, The Many Meanings Of The Fujimori Name

Keiko Fujimori has overcome, at least paritally, her imprisoned father's past to become the frontrunner to be Peru's next president. But the runoff will measure fears of a return to the authoritarian right?

Fujimori's popularity has continued to grow.
Fujimori's popularity has continued to grow.

-Editorial-

LIMA — Keiko Fujimori has made good in Peruvian politics using her surname. Her father is the former, now jailed, President Alberto Fujimori, whose crackdown on a Maoist insurrection in the 1990s restored security to Peru. He is a man whose ruthlessness earned him admiration and contempt in equal measure.

Despite the controversy and fears that surround her family name — which has similar connotations in Peru as Pinochet does in Chile — Fujimori was the most-voted candidate in the first round of Peru's presidential and parliamentary elections last weekend. But she failed to win enough votes to become president, forced to fight a second round in June against another conservative candidate, former Economy Minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.

The polls anticipated Fujimori's center-right Popular Force party to win at least 40% of the vote and suggested the remote possibility that Fujimori herself could win more than 50%. The other question was about who would be her rival in the second round. Ideally for Fujimori, it would have been Verónika Mendoza of the leftist Broad Front party, which wound up with just 17% of the vote. Persistent fears of the left in Peru, which has yet to forget the horrors of the Shining Path movement, ultimately paved the way for right-leaning candidate Kuczynski, whose initials PPK are consistent with his Peruvians for Change party (Peruanos por el Kambio), to make it to the runoff with 24% of the vote.

Fujimori's family name is both her strength and weakness. Analysts say her presidential hopes rest mainly on support from the working class, who will remember her father as the man who curbed hyperinflation, successfully fought the Shining Path and made Peru prosperous. While she's made some mistakes in the past, observers say she will have learned the lessons of her last presidential campaign, which she narrowly lost in the second round to now outgoing President Ollanta Humala. She suggested then that she might pardon her father, which mobilized those opposed to the jailed former president to support Humala.

The U.S.-educated Fujimori, now 40, became Peru's effective First Lady at age 19 after her parents divorced, the youngest in the history of Latin America. All she says now about that period was that the April 10 results showed "clearly that Peru wants reconciliation, not fights."

[rebelmouse-image 27090141 alt="""" original_size="443x484" expand=1]

Fujimori during his trial in 2008 — Photo: Lamtheboo

She insists this time that she will not pardon her father, will maintain the current government's economic model and fight crime. We should also bear in mind that Fujimori partly owes her top position to the fact that the country's electoral arbiter disqualified two aspirants considered to be close rivals because of evidence of campaign irregularities.

Her strength now resides in the grassroots party structures that are pervasive across the country and the parliamentary majority her party won on April 10 (her brother was the most-voted parliamentarian in Lima). Her weakness is the dark side of her father's presidency, including the massacres of Barrios Altos and La Cantuta, where right-wing gunmen killed 25 people.

For challenger PPK, the hope is to win over those who fear and resent the Fujimori name, whatever their own political colors, and to form a broad front determined to impede the return of the authoritarian Right — even in diluted form. Ultimately, on June 5, the voters of Peru will decide how they see the future. And the past.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Ideas

How Facebook Knowingly Undermines The World's Largest Democracy

Facebook whistleblower Sophie Zhang says that the tech giant knowingly facilitates undermining democracy in India. Fair voting cannot be guaranteed if real people's voices are drowned out by armies of fake online commentators.

The Tek Fog app is allegedly used by online operatives to hijack social media

Sophie Zhang

-OpEd-

NEW DELHI — Earlier this month, The Wire published an exposé on Tek Fog, an app allegedly used by India's ruling, right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to make social engineering easier. The app is allegedly used by online operatives to hijack social media and amplify right-wing propaganda in the country.

The investigation immediately grabbed the attention of the Indian public. For the first time, everyday Indians were given insight into the inner workings of a major political party's Information Technology Cell (IT cell). Indians were forced to confront the possibility that their everyday reality was shaped not by the Indian public but the whims of shadowy political operatives.

They also discovered that their own ruling party would seek to phish their phones with spyware for the purpose of sending party-line propaganda impersonating them to friends and family. Such serious allegations more closely resemble an authoritarian dictatorship like the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and their hired online commentators, the 50 Cent Army (五毛党), than the world’s largest democracy.

Keep reading... Show less
Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ