Belaúnde Terry, Fernando (1912–2002)

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Belaúnde Terry, Fernando (1912–2002)

Fernando Belaúnde Terry (b. 7 October 1912; d. 4 June 2002), Peruvian politician, twice president of Peru (1963–1968, 1980–1985). Representing civilian centrist political forces opposed to militarism and the Peruvian Aprista Party's established influence, Belaúnde received enthusiastic initial support of his populist modernizing ideology. He was born in Lima to a family of intellectuals and politicians from Arequipa. His father, Rafael, brother of the distinguished nationalist intellectual Víctor Andrés Belaúnde, went into exile in France during Augusto B. Leguía's regime in the early 1920s. Thus, Fernando was able to study mechanical and electrical engineering in Paris between 1924 and 1930 and later architecture at the universities of Miami and Texas, from which he graduated in 1935.

Upon his return to Lima, Belaúnde established in 1937 the professional journal El Arquitecto Peruano, which became an influential means of spreading modern ideas on urbanization. Belaúnde also became professor of urban studies and founder of the Institute of Urban Studies. In 1944, Belaúnde supported the successful bid for the presidency by José Luis Bustamante y Rivero's National Democratic Front. He consequently was elected congressional deputy for Lima. After Bustamante's ouster by a military coup in 1948, Belaúnde resumed his professional and teaching activities. With the return of democracy in 1956, Belaúnde's presidential candidacy was supported by the Front of Democratic Youth. Although he was not elected, Belaúnde was soon able to establish a new political party, Popular Action, which, together with the support of the Christian Democratic Party, would be the base for his second and successful candidacy for the presidency in 1962.

During his first presidency Belaúnde had to face the powerful opposition coalition of the Aprista Party and the Odriista National Union. He tried to carry out a program of extensive public works financed by foreign and domestic credit. However, between 1965 and 1968 inflation increased and political scandals (corruption, contraband, and unpopular agreements with a foreign oil company) were uncovered. Military pressure mounted as a consequence of the substantial authority ceded to the army to fight the guerrilla movement of 1965. The military ousted Belaúnde in 1968 and continued to govern until 1980. Re-elected as president in 1980, Belaúnde again confronted daunting economic problems and the growth of a new rural and urban armed struggle led by Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso). His popularity, and that of his party, fell as a consequence of an overall inefficient government between 1980 and 1985. He and his party lost that election to Alan García of the Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana (American Popular Revolutionary Alliance [APRA]) party. When Belaúnde handed over power to Garcia, the event marked the first peaceful transition of power among democratically elected presidents in his lifetime.

Because Belaúnde served as president under the 1979 Constitution, after his term he was appointed to a life-long seat in the Peruvian senate. (This privilege for former presidents was abolished by Peru's 1993 Constitution.) In 2002, he died in Lima after suffering from a brain hemmorhage and cancer. He was 89 years old.

See alsoPeru, Political Parties: Popular Action (AP) .


Fernando Belaúnde Terry, Peru's Own Conquest (1965).

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, Peruvian Democracy Under Economic Stress: An Account of the Belaúnde Administration, 1963–1968 (1977).

Additional Bibliography

Belaúnde Terry, Fernando, and Enrique Chirinos Soto. Conversaciones con Belaúnde: Testimonio y confidencias. Lima: Editorial Minerva, 1987.

García Belaúnde, Victór Andrés. Los ministros de Belaúnde: 1963–68, 1980–85. Lima: s.n., 1988.

Melgar, Jorge. A Belaúnde lo que es de Belaúnde. Lima, 1973.

Moscoso Perea, Carlos. El populismo en América Latina. Madrid: Centro de Estudios Constitucionales, 1990.

                                   Alfonso W. Quiroz

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Belaúnde Terry, Fernando (1912–2002)

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