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Fujimori's move to Chile: Was it all calculated?
30 November 2005
On the 6th of November, Alberto Fujimori, former Peruvian president (1990-2000) was detained in Chile, after having lived in self imposed exile in Japan for the last four years.
A fugitive from justice, believed to have been born in Peru but with Japanese nationality, he arrived in the Chilean capital on a secret flight from Japan, where he has been living under protection after having resigned from the presidency of Peru in the middle of a corruption scandal that brought his decade in power to an end. His flight touched down briefly in Tijuana in northern Mexico, before proceeding to Santiago. There is much political speculation for the reasons that led Fujimori to land in Chilean territory, but many assert that he and his political entourage had been preparing his return to Peru for a long time, and that his move to Chile was part of a well-planned strategy.
In effect, it seems that Fujimori wanted to campaign from Chile in view of the coming 2006 elections. Even if he cannot run for public office, (including participating in any electoral process) owing to an impediment issued by Congress in 2001 which effectively disqualifies him, he can use his image and political discourse in favour of his party Sí Cumple. The attorney's office investigating cases against Fujimori said: "Directing a campaign from Tokyo isn't the same as directing a campaign from Santiago de Chile". He would be closer to his party network and better placed to reactivate sympathies in his favour with a view to whipping up popular pressure to register his presidential candidacy.
In any case, it was significant that Fujimori decided to land in Chile, just when diplomatic relations between it and Peru were going through particularly tense moments owing to disagreements over the demarcation of the maritime boundary separating the two countries.
Probably, Fujimori thought that he would not be detained, at least not so promptly, and still less extradited to Peru. The Chilean judiciary does not have a good record in agreeing to Peruvian extradition requests. It had rejected three Peruvian requests for extradition of close collaborators of the Fujimorista regime. Also, between Chile and Japan, there are excellent bilateral relations, especially on trade matters, which made it inconvenient (particularly for Chile) to generate discord or differences that could prejudice international ties between the two countries. Delivering to justice a citizen who Japan has always insisted on protecting would put Chile in a tricky situation.
Up until now, at least, the position assumed by the Chilean government has been correct and efficient. The Chilean authorities refused the provisional application for bail filed by Fujimori's defence and they have ruled that he should remain in custody until Peru formalises an extradition order within a period of 60 days.
In the streets of Chile, a country with a history of dictatorships and systematic human rights violations, there exists a deep rejection of the presence of Fujimori. According to polls, eight out of ten Chilean citizens say that "Fujimori is a problem for the Peruvians, not for Chile" and support extradition.
The extradition of Fujimori
The important decision to bring him to justice is now in Chile's hands. The Peruvian judiciary faces the considerable challenge of organising and presenting, in just 60 days, the evidence necessary to support the extradition of Fujimori. The Chilean Supreme Court will evaluate this application and decide whether or not to proceed with the extradition. If the extradition is granted, Fujimori will only be able to be tried for those accusations in which the Chilean courts have found presumed responsibility. This means that of the 22 cases against Fujimori, he will be extradited and tried only for those that have sufficient supporting evidence and that are also compatible with Chilean penal legislation.
What is of concern here is that there are factors that could favour Fujimori. For example, many of the accusations lack sufficient evidence and some of the crimes have already passed their statutory limitations (they have, in effect, expired). The most serious accusations are to do with his responsibility for human rights violations, but according to a Peruvian Supreme Court judge "the Peruvian government does not possess sufficient evidence to prove his responsibility in these cases". Because of this, the Chilean judiciary can reject the extradition order for those serious accusations, and Fujimori would only face prosecution for less relevant offences, from which he may easily be freed.
Given this, many Peruvians are still asking themselves whether Fujimori did in fact calculate all this, and may finally slip the hook.
Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Peru
30 November 2005
New initiative to institutionalise the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Peru
An Action Plan drafted by a multi-stakeholder committee was adopted and published on Peru's EITI website in June 2005. Now, in addition, the Ministry of Energy and Mines has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the World Bank, which outlines an agreement for technical and financial support for the implementation of the EITI Action Plan. It is expected that a Presidential Decree will launch officially the work of a tripartite committee to implement this initiative. For more details see www.eitransparency.org
Peru and Chile border dispute over sea intensifies
30 November 2005
Diplomatic tensions between Peru and Chile increased when the Peruvian Congress unanimously approved a bill that will grant Peru 38,000 sq km of fishing waters that are also claimed by Chile.
Chile currently controls the area and claims that the new law, signed by Toledo, violates treaties from the 1950's. It has launched a diplomatic campaign against the change in legislation.
Peruvian officials argue that the new sea border is legitimate - using a technical formula established by the UN convention on the Law of Sea - to bring it into line with the land borders. The current border cuts west horizontally across the Pacific; the new border would follow the land border and cut diagonally, allowing Peru to reclaim the disputed fishing waters.
At a time when relations between Peru and Chile are being tested by a request to extradite Fujimori from Chile, Chilean President Ricardo Lagos said Santiago "will continue to exercise full sovereignty" over the area.
This is not the first time they have clashed over sea borders. Between 1879 to 1883 in the War of the Pacific Chile took Bolivia's access to the sea and extensive waters from Peru.
Peru says 'no' to Regionalisation - a blow to Decentralisation
30 November 2005
On 30th October there was a referendum in Peru asking her citizens whether or not they wanted to join with their neighbouring districts to become macro regions - where 3 separate districts become part of 1 region with the aim to facilitate decentralisation.
An overwhelming 69% of those that voted said 'no' and only 24% 'yes'. Only the district of Arequipa came near to the 50% needed to make the change while in many regions the 'no' vote was 80-85%.
Julio Díaz Palacios, of 'Red Perú', an NGO that works on local development initiatives, said, "the success of the no campaign is not a triumph for Centrists. It is evidence of disinformation and fear that was generated by certain actors, like political parties, in recent weeks. However, the 30% who voted for decentralisation are important and significant".
According to the Decentralisation Law, the next opportunity for a referendum is 2009, pushing the decentralisation process back.
Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with US falters once again
30 November 2005
The Peruvian delegation, sent to Washington to finalise talks on an Andean FTA with the US and 2 other Andean countries only managed to agree on 6 of the 24 clauses. Amongst others, they were unable to close negotiations on agriculture, intellectual property rights, access to the market, textiles, and government procurement meaning that no agreement was signed.
This delay not only means that the Andean FTA has still not been signed - contrary to what the US had predicted - but will also have a political cost for the US because it amounts to yet another obstacle for the continuation of their South American Hemispheric Integration project. What's more, two weeks earlier MERCOSUR (a South American trade block) did not agree to a proposal put forward by the US at the Summit of the Americas, held in Argentina, to restart negotiations on the long awaited Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Five South American countries, including Venezuela and Argentina, strongly apposed relaunching negotiations of the FTAA and want to scrap the proposal in place of a different kind of hemispheric agreement.
Although Toledo is keen for negotiations to close and for the agreement to be signed, there is a polarisation of opinion within Peruvian civil society. There has been a vigorous 'No' campaign whose slogan reads "TLC: Asi no" or "FTAA: Like this - no".
Reparations Law Approved in Congress
31 July 2005
Hundreds of campaigners and human rights activists, along with those affected by the conflict of 1980-2000 in which 70,000 people lost their lives, rallied outside the Palace of the Legislative in support of the proposed reparations law (Ley de Reparaciones), being debated in congress. The law would begin to institutionalise an important part of the recommendations of the Truth Commission (TRC) that made its final report almost 2 years ago and would be an overwhelming success for human rights campaigners.
The final decision of congress to approve the 'Ley de Reparaciones' and establish an Action Plan for Reparations (PIR) is testament to the vital work of the human rights organisations involved in the Para Que No se Repita (PQNSR - So that it will not happen again) campaign. The campaign asks, among its demands, that money from the Peruvian budget be earmarked for compensation for those affected by violence and conflict.
Within the text for the new law is the creation of a vital register of the victims of violence to enable the commission, charged with the task of implementing this law, to ensure that the right people benefit from the reparations. The commission has 90 days to design the mechanisms by which this law will be implemented.
It is estimated that some 200 thousand people from 530 communities will benefit, requiring an investment of 150 to 200 million Soles (£30-35 million) per year.
The law proposes a range of reparations including restoration of citizenship rights, reparations in education, health and housing but does not include economic reparations as recommended in the TRC final report. The Congress debated various points of the proposed law, drafted by Congressman Walter Alejos, and made some significant changes including amending the phrase 'victims of violence' to 'victims of terrorism', therefore focusing more on the violence perpetrated by the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso Guerrilla group) rather than that of the State. The law also withholds reparations from those who were members of the Shining Path. These changes were suggested by Congress Members of Alan Garcia's party APRA, one of the ruling parties during some of the worst years of the violence, so as not to compromise the position of his party due to run in the 2006 elections.
Although the law was passed by a large majority in Congress and is welcomed by campaigners as a first step by the state to recognise their obligation to victims of violence, it is only one part of the recommendations of the TRC, and there is now hope that more of the final report will be implemented in the same way.
For more information on the campaign in Peru to bring about the implementation of the recommendations of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission go to www.paraquenoserepita.org.pe
'Action Plan' to Implement Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Peru
31 July 2005
The EITI is an initiative spearheaded by the UK government to "ensure that the revenues from extractive industries contribute to sustainable development and poverty reduction". Peru has signed up to the initiative.
The working group, set up in December 2004 to implement the EITI in Peru, includes representatives from government, civil society and the companies operating in Peru. At the end of June 2005, and after criticism from both domestic and international campaigning groups, an Action Plan was finally published as to how the EITI will be implemented in Peru.
The plan includes publishing and auditing of payments and budget surveillance in two pilot areas, possibly Cajarmarca and Cusco. The plan has been approved by the participating NGOs and companies and the World Bank have agreed to support and fund it, but the government has stalled its implementation and have not yet approved it.
Campaigning groups have asked the government to publicly sign a memorandum of commitment to the IETI, but this has not been taken up by congress. The EITI could have a great impact on the level of transparency in mining revenues in Peru, a commitment to the core principles would mean a huge step forward, but without absolute commitment at a National level, it is unlikely that there will be any progress.
Peruvian Women Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
31 July 2005
Congratulations to the 8 Peruvian women nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. They are:
- Maria Cleofé Sumire López founded the Andean Women's Association (AMA).
- Felícitas Estela Linares Meneses founded the Communication and Environment Institute (Icma).
- Angélica Mendoza Almeida - National Association of Families of the Disappeared
- Carmen Rosa Campos Mendoza, poverty campaigner
- Virginia (Gina) Vargas Valente, Flora Tristán Women’s Centre
- Hilaria Supa Huamán, campaigner for the rights of agricultural workers
- María Luisa Alvarez Llave, co-founder of the Union of Cusco
- Pilar Coll Torrente, works for the National Coordinator of Human Rights
5,000 Peruvians take to the streets against corruption in Peru
31 July 2005
The biggest demonstration in Peru for 4 years called for an end to corruption, impunity and injustice. Young people chanted, "The judiciary is a national shame!" and expressed their discontent with the total collapse of the fight against corruption that the Toledo government had promised when it took office.
The peaceful demonstration was sparked by the controversial release of the Wolfenson brothers. Alex and Moisés Wolfenson were sentenced to five years imprisonment for their involvement with Vladamiro Montesinos, Fujimori's former spy chief who remains in prison in Lima, charged with corruption amongst other crimes. The sentence was overturned after it was ruled that, although guilty, their time under house arrest could count as time spent in prison.
Some of the participants took part in street theatre to illustrate the impact of corruption and named people who are known to be corrupt within the Congress and the judiciary. Francisco Soberóon, the director of the National Coordinator of Human Rights, spoke at the rally in support of their demands congratulating the participation of so many people and organisations. Other people who voiced their support at the rally were the director of La República and President of the Peruvian Press Association, Gustavo Momhe Seminario, Candelaria Ríos y Martín Soto, representatives of the youth movement and Sofía Macher, who spoke as a representative of civil society organisations.
Protest forces UK mining company to suspend operations
31 May 2005
A spokesperson for BHP Billiton, an Anglo-Australian resource group, said that operations in their copper mine in Tintaya, Southern Peru have been halted to “ensure the overall safety of personnel”, evacuating all non essential staff from the site.
The decision came after a group of 2,000 protesters began to demonstrate outside the mine demanding more investment in local infrastructure.
The mine's vice president Lucio Rios said the protesters were blocking entry to the mine and had set fire to grassland within the mine camp after clashing with and stoning police. Police responded with tear gas.
This protest follows a trend of demonstrations against the imposition of large-scale mines in Peru. There is great concern from local residents who fear for their agricultural livelihoods and say that they see little of the benefits from the resources extracted from their land.
Tintaya has been heralded as an example for other mining companies, voluntarily committing 3% of annual operating profits to the local Espinar community - with a ceiling of US$1.5mn per year. But protesters are demanding that BHP Billiton pave a 156km road to Arequipa city and give US$20mn per year for local development projects.
Meanwhile, the proposed Xstrata copper mine at Las Bambas in the Apurimac department, hopes to produce 200,000 tonnes per year of copper concentrate. Xstrata's initial US$91mn down payment for Las Bambas included US$45.5mn for a community trust fund.