PERU: FUJIMORI LEADING IN CONTROVERSIAL PRESIDENTIAL RACE

Created: 4/4/2000

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

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I ntelligcnce Report

Office of Asian Pacific and Latin0

Peru: Fujimori Leading in Controversial Presidential Race

The campaign for the electionpril remains focused on the legality of President Fujimori's bidhird term and on complaints that he is engagingariety of dirty tricks against the opposition. Opposition candidates, domestic nongovernmental organizationsnd international observers are concernedainted electoral process, including lhe possibility of fraud on election day.

frjrmori. who remains the clear frontrunner. and his national security adviser Vladimiro Montesinos are using the security services to campaign for the President, intimidate the opposition and media, and control the institutions responsible for staging the election

The nine opposition parties competing in the presidentialraces remain divided and weak, although theof Alejandro Toledo in public opinionthe race may be closer than once

The Fujimori administration is likely to do everything In its power, including tampering with the vote, toirst round victory, as polls suggest Fujimori wouldtiffer challenge in the second round. Both the President and Montesinos probably fear political and legal retaliation if Fujimori loses.

The political opposition and domestic NGOs continue to look to the United States and international community to press Lima toair election. Peruvian and regional observers will probably viewreactionignal of how serious Ihe United States is about promoting democracy.

Democratic consolidation will be problematic whatever the outcome. Fujimori is unlikely to temper his authoritarian governing style if he retains power,ew President would face the difficult task ofubbentamp Congress and depoliticizing the judiciary, military, and other key institutions.

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Democracy Dominates Debate

The campaign leading up to the election on 9which voters will castpresident, two vice presidents,dominatedabout the legality of President Alberto Fujimori's candidacy for aterm and concerns that he has sucked the deck in his favor. Otherof secondaryfor example, that there ii little

difference in the broad outlines of the candidates' economic platforms, which all emphasize renewing economic growth, job creation, and international trade.

Longstanding challenges to the legality of Fujimori's unprecedented campaign forfive-year term have fallen short, although some opposition candidatescall for the President to drop out of the race, citing3 Constitution'slimit. The National Election Board (JNE) rejectedeparate legalhis candidacy, upholding Fujirnori's interpretation that his first termnot count since it began under the previous charter.

Com pi amis about the legitimacy of the electoral process, meanwhile, remain widespread:

Recent allegations that one of Fujimori's coalition partners.orged upillion signatures on its petition to register for the election have stoked controversy over the campaign's fairness. Lima haspecial prosecutor to investigate, but has widened the scope of the probe to include all panics and says results will not be available until after the first round.

Candidates say they continue to face difficulties in getting campaign advertisements onall channelsro-Fujimori editorialwell as smear campaigns Id the print media, harassment by the National Police, military, and intelligence services, and physical and verbal harassment

Fujimori's longtime adviser, viammiro Mormrsi ios. is

directing the National Inlcliigencc Service (SIN) and other intelligence agencies, all three branches of the military, and the National Police in an effort to guarantee the President's reelection by harassing and surveilling opponents, mtimidating and bribing media outlets to provide positive coverage, and propagandizing for the

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President. Theset opcommand post in Septexnber lo engineeralso funding tabloid newspapers and providing themstones about the

Candidates and domestic nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are alsoelection dayPolitical party represeniabvcs

and election monitors will be allowed to ooscrvenmr] contest the tabulation of votes and their entry into computers, but neither the parties nor international observers have the manpower lo staff0 voting tables. Although the nine opposition parties have agreed to cooperate in posting observers at polling stations, ihey estimate that more than half will have no independent observers.

Fujimori's Five-Year Campaign

Fujimori, who is leading in ihe latest public opinion polls by someercentage

poiriis^-has been planning hisce at

President is not campaigning in the traditional sense, he did not issue

a platform until late March, has skipped all major candidate forums, and refuses to participate in debates. Instead, he cast himselfardworking incumbent running for reelection to ensure that his successes against ihc Sendero Luminoso (SL) and Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement insurgencies and in turning around thehis most notablenot imperiled:

Fujimori ended in early March the last remaining emergencylingering and unpopular reminder of the fight againstcarefully orchestrated his role in the capture last year of SL's at-large leader to maximize his public

In public appearances, he has touted bis success in reducing inflation from moreercent the year he took officeercente also recently hiked the mmiroum wage byercent

Fujimori has also initialed several pork-barrel programs in recent months to bolster his standing, especially among poor, rural, and indigenous voters, who have long been his core supporters:

In March, his campaign workers btfafld homing loans toooor

inhabitants of Trujillo Dryamneaij

In January, following an invasion of private landima district by landless campesino*

the Presidentarge-scare program to the landless-1 |

The opposition and domestic NGOs continue to look to tbe United States and the international community to press the Fujimori administration to cease its manipulation of the electoral process, but the government has made only cosmetic changes in response to criticism thus far:

response to calls for increased opposition access to broadcast media, television stations arc now giving opposition candidates free aim me, but candidates continue to complain that the time is limited and that the segments are usually aired late at night, past peak viewing hours

Fujimori's promises to keep the military awl security services

neuual in the

institutions remain active in rus canipaigu. j

Oppositionuddle

Confronted with the Fujimori machine, die opposition has puteak fight:

political and personalistic divisions and arnbiuons scuttled the opposition's ability to quash Fujimori's maneuveringhird term and have subsequently thwarted efforts to agreeingle consensus candidate to oppose Fujimori. These problems have likewise stymied recent efforts to organize an opposition boycottnited push to postpone the election and avoid legitimizing what they viewainted process.

Traditional political parties, largely discredited by their inability to

deal with the economic and security crises of, aretate of collapse. Leading opposition candidates are carrying the banners of

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ovements formed as electoral vehicles, continuing abegan in the last presidential election.

Of (he eight opposition candidates running for the presidency,ew are serious contenders. Economist and university professor Alejandro Toledo, who formed his Peru Posible political movementlatform for his5 candidacy, has surged dramatically in the polls in recent weeks and is nowain challenger

^Toledo has distinguished himself from other

opposition canainarcs byositive message, rather than solely complaining about the Fujimori aarrunisiration's dirty tricks, although he is trying to turn Fujimori's appealonwhitc candidate against him by emphasizing his own indigenous heritage.

relaxed speaking style and ability to explain economic issues" in an uncomplicatedplatform emphasizes jobhim an effective campaigner.

As Toledo has emergedrontrunncr. ihe pro-Fujimori media has launchedattack against him by dredging up allegations of his participation inscheme mat defrauded hundreds of PeruviansheseToledoormal investigation never yielded anyof his involvement.

Early frontrunners Lima Mayor Alberto Andrade and former Social Security Institute head Luis Castefieda Lossio have both plunged in recent polls. Political observers attribute their sagging fortunes to their own political missteps and continued media attacks against them:

Andrade. viewedresidential contender since heujimori proselyte for the mayoraltyas lost what wasommanding lead over Fujimori and now ranks third or fourth in voter prefcrencea. His Somos Peru movement did poorly outside of Lima in municipal elections8 andey Lima district mayoral race ininterpretedepudiation of both Andrade and Somos Peru. Tabloid press attacks against his efforts to evict illegal street vendors from Lima's city streets resonate with poor voters.

Casiencda Lossio lost ground because of his limited public visibility, failure tooherent platform, and an excessive focus on the Fujimori administration's dirty dealing. Unsubstantiated media

allegations that he mismanaged the Social Security Institute and that he obtained campaign funding from dubious sources have also bUft him.

Election Poses Difficult Challenges for Washington

There is little chance that the opposition will become sufficiently strong or united tooycott lhat. by itself, would discredit the electoral process. Still less likely, given Fujimori's fronlrunner status, wouldecision by the administration to postpone balloting; there is no existing legal mechanism to do so. Alejandro Toledo's surge in the polls actually woiks in Lima's favor, makinc turn unwilling for now tooycott or postponemenij

For his part, the Fujimori administration will continue to press hardirst round victory, using all resources at its disposal, including further attacks on current opposition fronlrunner Toledo.on election day. The stakes are too high for him to risk goingecond round:

Public opinion polls suggest that Fujimori would no( fare wellingle opposition candidaieecond round, especially as most of Ihe other candidates would probably throw their support behind the remaining challenger.

Both Fujimori and key adviser Monicsinos are undoubtedly leery about political retaliation if Fujimori is swept from office. Opposition figures continue to raise ihe prospect of trying both men for various acts:2 autogotpe, or self-coup: human rights abuses committed in the course of the counierterromm campaign; Montesinos's alleged linksarcotics :raf ficking and other illegal activities; and alleged abuses related to Fujimori's questhird term.

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for his

in ihe event of an electoral loss:

I Monicsinos has I expressed

concern about the possibility of assassination by narcotics traffickers or terrorists once he no longer has ihe security afforded by his current posiiion. Fujimori may harbor similar fears.|

The administration's aclions io date and Fujimori's apparent calculation that he must remain in power at all costs increase the likelihood that this election represents adecidedlyfoi democracy in Peru:

While neither electoral nor judicial authorities would be likely to entertain an opposition effort toujimoriublic effort to discredit the process would further weaken public faith in the democratic system.

A Fujimori victory would further undermine Peru's anemic democratic institutions. His past record suggests Fujimori will maintain control over the judiciary, military, and executive agencies to advance his political ambitions, and try to limit legislative independence. He will probably continue io use the security services to limit the developmentibrant opposition, undermining prospects for progress inompetitive democracy.

The damage donelectoral institutions' integrity, the political opposition, and the credibility or the democratic system will linger through at least tbe next election, raising the prospect of another election of questionable legitimacy |

Democracy aside, another Fujimori term would have mixed practical implications for the United Slates:

Another win would undoubtedly bolster Fujimori's confidence and enhance his willingness to criticize US policyhe did in the case ofbuck international opinion, as be did when he withdrew Peru from the Inter American Human Rights Court's contentious jurisdiction.

Nonetheless, his past record suggests that be would maintain the economic discipline that characterized his first two terms, continue programs to reduce poverty and improve living conditions, and to expand Peru's trade lies. | |

Other countries in lhe region will be watching Washington's reaction to the election as an indicator of US seriousness about promoting democracy in Latin America. Undemocratic elements in such troubled states as Ecuador and Paraguay might perceive US acceptanceuestionable electoral processreen light to step up their efforts to oust their own governments. Conversely. Fujimori and Montesinos might retaliate as io the past against strong US criticism by slowing or ceasing

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coopcraiion on couniemarcolics and other issues of bilateral interest at least in the short term.

If Toledo or another opposition candidate were to pull off an upset win. he would face the monumental tasks of trying tousillanimous legislature, and depoliticizing the judiciary, executive branch institutions, and the military while attempting to maintain the confidence of the international financial community.

A new President would almost certainly attempturge the military, police force, and intelligence services of Fujimori and Montesinos loyalists, who currcnily dominate. Although opposition frontrunners appear commiltcd to continuing counternarcotics cooperation with the United Slates, any effort by them to depoliticize these services could temporarily slow cooperation on counternarcotics.

T-ujimon's main rivals appear lo favor continuing bis free market economic reform program, but tbe politicalto be less thanunnerve foreign investors and cause them lo at least delay investment decisions until the new administration proved itself.

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