Fujimori’s controversial release shakes Peruvian politics

The Peruvian Constitutional Court’s decision to order the immediate release of the former president Alberto Fujimori, convicted of crimes against human rights in 2009, once again caused a stir in turbulent Peruvian politics. The Constitutional Court confirmed the validity of the pardon for health reasons granted to Fujimori in 2017 by the then-president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski when he needed the support of Fujimorism in Congress to save his presidency.

The decision blatantly violates the ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights at the time, which affirmed that the release of Fujimori under the current circumstances would cause harm to the families of the victims and open the door to impunity.

Fujimori, 85, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for several crimes, including his involvement in the Barrios Altos and La Cantuta massacres, in which 25 people were killed as a result of secret actions by Grupo Colina, a military group acting on behalf of the Supreme Court of the Republic The government conducted dirty war operations against Shining Path terrorism that resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians.

The news comes a year after the former president was fired and jailed Pedro Castillo for his failed coup attempt. Castillo has since been imprisoned at the Barbadillo maximum security prison on the outskirts of Lima, where he shared confinement with Fujimori.

Fujimori’s release from prison has once again angered victims of his crimes, who remember that he never asked for forgiveness or paid the restitution he was sentenced to pay. They also emphasize that the former president is also accused of the deaths of six people in the Pativilca district in 1992 and the forced sterilization of more than 270,000 women and 22,000 men, most of them from indigenous or low-income families, between 1996 and 2001 developed to combat poverty.

Fujimori’s supporters and critics took part in demonstrations for and against his release, showing that his figure still divides Peruvians. To his admirers, he is the determined leader who managed to defeat the Shining Path and bring order to a chaotic economy; For his critics of an authoritarian ruler who did not hesitate to stage a coup, order crimes against humanity and enrich himself through corruption.

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The 12 months of Boluarte that shook the reputation of the Peruvian Foreign Ministry
The 12 months of Boluarte that shook the reputation of the Peruvian Foreign MinistryWelcome VelascoEFE

The Government of the President of Peru, Dina Boluarte, remained absolutely silent after the Constitutional Court’s order for Fujimori’s release. The decision to be made has not yet been the subject of any public statements or communication from the Office of the President or the Ministry of Justice.

Be that as it may, what happened to Fujimori has brought Peruvian politics out of the lethargy into which it had fallen after the protests following the fall of Castillo subsided and in which, according to international reports, fifty people died as a result of the disproportionate repression the army and the police.

The deaths in the protests have been the main obstacle for President Dina Boluarte, who was recently accused by prosecutors before Congress of being responsible and whose popularity in the polls has been at a minimum for months.

Boluarte has proven unable to right the course of the economy, which has fallen into recession and shows signs of continued deterioration, nor to ease the feeling of growing insecurity, surviving in a precarious situation without his own faction in Congress, but with the support of the Fujimorism and other groups that have no more interest than them in holding the immediate elections that, according to polls, the majority of Peruvians are demanding as a solution to the country’s long-standing political crisis.

In Peru, where the majority of living former presidents are imprisoned or prosecuted, politics is widely discredited and the slogan “Let them all go” has long become a mantra on the streets and at press stands.

But Boluarte is sticking to his position and the congressmen are sticking to their seats. His political dependence on Fujimori appears to be the key to deciding the fate of the elderly Fujimori. The Constitutional Court ordered his release as early as March 2022, but the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered his suspension in a ruling a few weeks later and the Castillo government kept him behind bars. This time the story is different. Boluarte needs Fujimorism to stay in power and would prefer a judicial condemnation of the state with dubious consequences to the overthrow of his government.

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