Pérez de Cuéllar, Javier (1920–)

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Pérez de Cuéllar, Javier (1920–)

A Peruvian diplomat and politician, Pérez de Cuéllar was the fifth United Nations secretary-general. Born January 19, 1920, he entered Peru's diplomatic service in 1944. He had a long and distinguished career, including ambassadorships to Switzerland, the Soviet Union, Poland, and Venezuela as well as the post of permanent representative to the United Nations (1971–1975). His career included service with the United Nations as special representative in Cyprus from 1975 to 1977 and undersecretary-general for special political affairs from 1979 to 1981. In 1982 Pérez de Cuéllar became the first Latin American UN secretary-general; he was reelected in 1986. In 1995 he ran unsuccessfully for president of Peru, later serving as his country's minister of foreign affairs during the transition government of Valentín Paniagua (2000–2001). His final post was ambassador to France, from which he retired in 2004.

A highlight of his tenure as United Nations secretary-general was supporting efforts to end conflict in Central America by establishing UN peacekeeping missions to Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala, the first in Latin America. In his last act as secretary-general, he brokered the peace agreement between the government of El Salvador and the Farabundo Martí Liberation Front guerrillas.

Persuaded to run for Peru's presidency in 1995 as the candidate of the Union for Peru (Unión Por el Perú [UPP]), he finished second among fourteen aspirants in the first round but garnered just 35 percent of the votes in the runoff against incumbent Alberto Fujimori. His failure was attributed to a combination of his long absence from Peru, an uncharismatic campaign style, and his opponent's dirty tricks, which included tapping his telephones.

See alsoUnited Nations .


Bowen, Sally. The Fujimori File: Peru and Its President, 1990–2000. 2000.

Montgomery, Tommie Sue, ed. Peacemaking and Democratization in the Western Hemisphere. Coral Gables, FL: North-South Center Press, University of Miami, 2000.

                                  David Scott Palmer

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Pérez de Cuéllar, Javier (1920–)

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