Peru Since Independence

views updated

Peru Since Independence

In 1780 the great Rebellion of Túpac Amaru shook the Peruvian Viceroyalty to its very foundations, putting Spanish rule in its Andean core in jeopardy. This massive Indian uprising cost up to 100,000 lives, an estimated one-tenth of Peru's population, and reached from Cuzco all the way to La Paz. Despite its defeat by the colonial regime, the revolt set the stage for a series of rebellions over the next decades involving Peru's polyglot population of Spaniards, creoles, mestizos, Indians, and African slaves. Although the specific goals and motives of these rebellions varied, all called into question some aspect of Spanish rule and sought change, ranging from independence to reform of the colonial system to greater political autonomy. The broader context for Andean rebellion was the onset at roughly the same time of the Age of Revolution in the Western World—North American independence (1776), the French Revolution (1789), and the Haitian Revolution (1801).


The beginning of the end of Spain in America occurred with Napoleon's invasion and occupation of the Iberian Peninsula in 1808, which led to the abdication of King Ferdinand VII and his replacement by Joseph Bonaparte on the throne of Spain. With Spanish power emasculated by France and Spanish colonies in America isolated and in political limbo, the movements for independence (1810–1825) erupted from Mexico to Argentina. In Peru, the last colony to gain its freedom in South America, the process was slow to materialize, largely because of a widespread fear among creoles in the Viceroyalty that their property, privileges, indeed very lives would be lost in a revolution from below. Moreover, Lima, the main seat of Spanish colonial power in South America for three centuries, contained forces too intimately tied to the metropolis to seriously challenge the colonial system or contemplate experimenting with the new doctrines of republicanism sweeping other parts of the Americas. Therefore, despite internal opposition to Spanish rule, particularly in the Andean highlands, Peru's independence in 1826 was largely exogenously driven, coming from outside invasion—from the liberation armies led by General José San Martín in the south and by General Simón Bolívar in the north.

The subsequent construction of a new republican government in Lima would prove to be an extremely difficult task, given the three-centuries-long viceregal, monarchical tradition of government, underpinned by a stratified, hierarchical social structure. Mainly conforming to the boundaries of the old viceroyalty, the new Peruvian "nation" was also a sprawling, geographically fractured and regionalized territory containing a large, heterogeneous, preliterate peasant population that was 60 percent Indian. It was not surprising, then, that the task of crafting an entirely new form of government, based largely on republican principals derived from foreign political models, failed to work. Without a consensus, legitimacy, or functional institutions, the weak, fledgling central government was unable to establish its authority in the country, leading to the rise of powerful caudillo strongmen who seized the reigns of power in the interior. These warlords, who emerged to contest power at the local, regional, and eventually national level, were mostly former military figures or landowners who could command a popular following and share the loot of power with their clients and supporters.

In the ensuing economy of scarcity, ravaged by the destructive impact of war, caudillo politics became a means of survival and mobility for large segments of the population while constitutional government lacked the financial means to establish neither law and order or an effective presence in the country. The clashes of individual caudillos and their irregular armies of supporters produced a political panorama of constant civil war and civil turmoil during the first two decades after independence. As a result of this endemic political instability Peru endured, by one count, a total of twenty-four regime changes, an average of one per year between 1821 and 1845, and the constitution was rewritten six times. With the presidency in effect a revolving door and caudillo politics the country's main industry, it is no wonder that the economy showed little growth and development during the immediate postindependence years.


In 1840 the country's political instability and economic stagnation was suddenly reversed when Peruvians discovered large deposits of guano, a natural fertilizer deposited over millennia on nearby islands by sea birds who fed on an abundant supply of fish in the warm Humboldt current along the coast. The ensuing bonanza over the next three decades saw ten million tons of guano "mined" by imported Chinese indentured coolies and shipped to Europe and the United States, where the nineteenth-century agricultural revolution demanded large inputs of fertilizer. It also yielded millions to government coffers, not to mention private entrepreneurs, foreigners, and speculators. This enormous bounty enabled the state to strengthen and solidify its control over the country by improving communications to the interior and building a modern army capable of routing the petty caudillos from their local and regional fiefdoms. Guano revenue also provided the financing for the state to embark on an ambitious development program that gave priority to the construction of railroads, the symbol at the time of progress throughout the Western World.

The main architects of this era of guano-driven economic progress and political stabilization were General Ramón Castilla (1797–1868), two-time president of the country (1845–1851 and 1854–1862), and Manuel Pardo (1834–1876), a businessman who founded the Civilista Party and was the first civilian president of Peru (1872–1876). Castilla, a pragmatic consensus builder, used the enormous guano bounty to forge a Pax Andina by rooting out local caudillos and extending the power and reach of the government into the interior. He also reined in the power of the church, consolidated the national debt, abolished the onerous Indian head tax, and freed the country's 25,000 or so black slaves (1854) through a program of compensation to their planter overlords. For the latter accomplishment he gained the sobriquet "Emancipator" from his supporters and compatriots.

Manuel Pardo, on the other hand, was an aristocrat, a self-made millionaire and mayor of Lima, who earned his laurels by promoting a program of guano-based economic development and equally important civilian, as opposed to military, governance of the country. Pardo pinned his economic plan to "turning guano into railroads" to stimulate national production and internal markets. He insisted that, without railroads, no real material progress—upon which moral progress depended—would be possible. As a result of his influence Peru embarked on a mammoth railroad-building program, made the more spectacular by its transversal of the steep gorges and mountain divides of the Andes. At the same time, to take advantage of a growing civil society emerging during the century's middle decades, Pardo founded the Civilista Party, designed to purge the country of the military rulers who had monopolized the presidency since Independence. His success was capped when he was elected the first civilian president of Peru in 1872.

Alas, despite Peru's seeming mid-century good fortune, which might have catapulted the country forward in terms of growth and development, the guano boom went bust. The deposits of the fertilizer, after providing the credit for enormous loans to the state, proved finite; the sudden bonanza of wealth based on guano served only to widen the already considerable gap between rich and poor. Moreover, it opened the country up to an orgy of corruption, speculation, and unnecessary expenditures on luxury goods for the elites rather than productive investment. The business classes were afflicted with a rentier mentality—relying on income from property or holdings—further hindering the economy's progress, and the hugely expensive railroad construction program failed to stimulate the kind of development that Pardo had in mind.

Population:28,674,757 (2007 est.)
Area:496,226 sq mi
Official language(s):Spanish, Quechua
Language(s):Spanish, Quechua, Aymara, other Amazonian languages
National currency:nuevo sol (PEN)
Principal religions:Roman Catholic, 81%; Seventh Day Adventist, 1.4%; other Christian, 0.7%; other, 0.6%; unspecified or none, 16.3%
Ethnicity:Amerindian, 45%; mestizo (mixed Amerindian and European), 37%; European, 15%; African, Japanese, Chinese, and other, 3%
Capital:Lima (pop. 7,899,000; 2005 est.)
Other urban centers:Trujillo, Arequipa, Chiclayo
Annual rainfall:75 to 125 in
Principal geographic features:Mountains: Cordillera Occidental, Cordillera Central, Cordillera Oriental ranges of the Andes; Mt. Huascarán, 22,205 ft
Bodies of water: Lake Titicaca, Marañón River, Huallaga River, Ucayali River, Amazon River
Economy:GDP per capita: $6,600 (2006 est.)
Principal products and exports:Agriculture: asparagus, coffee, cotton, sugarcane, rice, potatoes, corn, plantains, grapes, oranges, coca; poultry, beef, dairy products; fish, guinea pigs Industries: mining and refining of minerals; steel, metal fabrication; petroleum extraction and refining, natural gas; fishing and fish processing, textiles, clothing, food processing
Government:Republic with centralized government. The president is popularly elected for a five-year term and can run for re-election for one additional term. The National Congress consistes of a 60-member Senate and a 180-member Chamber of Deputies; all elected legislators have five-year terms. There are also more than 160 locally elected government councils.
Armed forces:80,000 active personnel in 2005, supported by 188,000 reservists.
Army: 40,000 members
Navy: 25,000 active personnel, including 4,000 Marines, 1,000 Coast Guard members, and 800 naval aviation personnel
Air force: 15,000 personnel
Transportation:As of 2004, Peru's railroad system consisted of 2,153 mi of standard and narrow gauge railway lines. In 2002, of the estimated 45,300 mi of existing roads, only 5,406 mi were paved. The two primary routes are the 1,864 mi north-south Pan American Highway and the Trans-Andean Highway, which runs about 500 mi. As of 2004, there were 5,473 mi of waterways, of which 5,349 mi consist of tributaries of the Amazon River and 129 mi on Lake Titicaca. In 2004 there were an estimated 234 airports. In 2005, a total of 54 had paved runways, and there was also one heliport.
Media:In 2004, there were 65 radio stations and 2 news channels on 2 commercial cable systems in the Lima area. There are many privately owned provincial stations. The government owns one radio station and one television network. The leading Lima dailies are El Comercio, 120,000 (2004 circ.), Ojo (40,000), and Expreso (50,000). Other major papers from Lima include Aja (120,000), El Bocon (90,000), and La Republica (50,000). The official government paper is El Peruano (27,000).
Literacy and education:Total literacy rate: 87.7% (2004 est.)
Education is compulsory for 12 years, including one year of preprimary education. Peru has a number of universities, including National University of San Marcos of Lima, the National University of Engineering, the National University of Agriculture, and the University of San Cristóbal de Huamanga.

Guano deposits were exhausted by the 1870s, just as Peru was feeling repercussions from the worldwide depression of 1873; the nation defaulted on its national debt in 1876 and then entered an ill-advised war with Chile. Peru lost the War of the Pacific (1879–1883) to its vastly better organized southern rival, whose armies occupied the country, inflicting widespread death and destruction. The war had erupted essentially over undefined boundaries between the two countries and Peru's ally Bolivia, which contained potentially lucrative mineral resources claimed by the combatants.

As a result of the war, which ended in the Treaty of Ancón in 1883, Peru lost the southern province of Tarapaca to Chile and in the provinces of Tacna and Arica was forced to agree to a plebiscite after ten years. Perhaps more significantly, the country was thrown back economically and politically to the state of instability and stagnation that had reigned in the country after independence fifty years earlier. The military seized power once again, while the economy slowly recovered. This second period of "militarism" and reconstruction lasted until 1895, a period punctuated by widespread social unrest, Indian uprising, and the humiliating Grace Contract of 1886, which ceded the country's unfinished railway system for sixty-six years to the Peruvian Corporation, made up of foreign bondholders, in return for the cancellation of Peru's foreign debt.


After losing the war Peru underwent a period of soul searching, led by the biting criticisms of gadfly intellectual Manuel González Prada, who faulted the country's political class for leading Peru into a conflict it was ill-prepared to win. At the same time, the Civilista Party formed again and by the early twentieth century gained control of the presidency, which it held for most of the next two decades. It was now dominated mainly by export-oriented planters, mine owners, and financiers—an oligarchy or plutocracy—who, with the aid of large inflows of foreign capital, reintegrated the country into the industrializing economies of the West. Thanks to expanding production of such commodities as cotton, sugar, silver, copper, ferrous metals, and oil, composing a relatively diversified export sector, the country's GDP advanced smartly, stimulated also by a new manufacturing capacity, particularly textiles, oriented toward an emerging popular domestic market.

The trickle-down effect of this economic growth brought about the emergence of new middle and working classes that by the outbreak of World War I began to have an impact on politics. For example, in 1912 Guillermo Billinghurst, a dissident oligarch and proto-populist, was elected president on a reform platform, momentarily breaking the Civilistas' hold on power, before the armed forces removed him from office in 1914. The Civilistas retook the presidency in elections a year later. Then, in the wake of peasant unrest in the southern highlands, the new working classes struck for the eight-hour day in what came to be known as the Great Strike of 1918–1919, the founding moment of the national labor movement. They were joined by university students who demonstrated alongside the workers and advocated their own University Reform Movement in 1918. Their target was the aristocracy's control of the administration, curriculum, and entrance requirements to higher education, widely considered elitist, old-fashioned, and discriminatory against the new middle sectors. Much of the social unrest of the war years was fueled by popular anger over soaring inflation that sharply reduced the living standards and buying power of the population.

The dissident Civilista Augusto B. Leguía, a self-made businessman and proponent of modernization and Americanization through greater foreign investment and trade, captured the imagination of the new reform-minded popular sectors and was elected president in 1919. At first Leguía initiated a series of progressive social reforms, only to "manage" his reelection in 1924 and assume virtual dictatorial power during the second half of the 1920s. He then became a political victim of the Wall Street crash of 1929 and ensuing Depression: He was overthrown by the army in 1930 as the export-dependent economy virtually collapsed and unemployment soared. The Depression unleashed populist forces in the country, giving expression to the new mass-based political party American Popular Revolutionary Party (APRA), founded in 1923 by Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre. The charismatic Haya almost captured the presidency in 1931, edged out in the voting by the leader of the coup that had overthrown the unpopular Leguía, Col. Luis M. Sánchez Cerro.

APRA was essentially nationalist and stridently anti-oligarchical, advocating democratization, greater control over foreign capital, state intervention in the economy, agrarian reform, and import-substituting industrialization (ISI). The party took on many of the attributes of the National Revolutionary Party (PNR) in Mexico, where Haya had spent part of a long exile following his leadership of a popular demonstration against Leguía's attempt (ultimately unsuccessful) to dedicate the country and his regime to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1923. The Peruvian Communist Party was also founded in this period, in 1928, by journalist-intellectual José Carlos Mariategui, who subsequently became an icon of the Peruvian Left. Although he died a year later, his numerous writings, including a severe critique of APRA, became an inspiration to progressive forces for the rest of the century.

The impact of the Depression was relatively short-lived in Peru, as exports recovered by 1934 and then expanded rapidly through World War II. Politics, however, remained polarized between Left and Right, as APRA forces rebelled in 1932 in Trujillo, Haya's hometown, claiming electoral fraud, and Sánchez Cerro was assassinated a year later by an Aprista militant. The army savagely repressed the rebellion, setting off a vengeful feud between the party and the military that lasted half a century. General Oscar R. Benavides, another military figure, followed Sánchez Cerro in the presidency (1933–1939), establishing a dictatorship. During this period APRA was proscribed by the government and went underground, suffering a period of severe repression that tended to harden its ranks through collective survival and sacrifice. During World War II Peru allied with the United States and profited from wartime sales of critical mineral exports to its ally, while gradually opening up to democratic forces by the end of the war.

A postwar "democratic springtime" brought to power a reformist coalition government that included APRA, holding out the hope of social change and popular political incorporation. However, an inability to cooperate among the coalition partners, excessive demands for radical reforms, and increasing budget deficits collided with the outbreak of the Cold War and Berlin Blockade of 1948. Once again oligarchical forces opposed to change spurred the military to intervene to prevent an alleged Communist undermining of the status quo and conservative interests. General Manuel Odría led the coup, establishing a dictatorship (1948–1956) that again sent APRA underground and Haya into a long political exile in the Colombian embassy in Lima.

The 1950s saw the culmination of an important demographic shift in the country away from the sierra to the coast and from rural to urban areas, as the hacienda system weakened and the cities, where more jobs and government services held out the promise of better living standards, attracted a growing number of rural migrants. Odría's government responded by increasing social benefits to the growing number of shantytown inhabitants around Lima and other urban areas, where government infrastructure and services were overwhelmed by demand. Overall Peru's population had almost quadrupled from 2.6 million in 1876 to almost 10 million in 1961, while the number of inhabitants in Lima had soared to 1.6 million by the same year.

Gradually, a reformist political tide rose again, cresting in the early 1960s. A new progressive political party, Accion Popular (AP), was founded by the charismatic young architect Fernando Belaúnde Terry, posing a severe challenge to APRA. By that time APRA had shifted to a more conservative position after entering into a tacit alliance with the right wing in the 1958 Convivencia pact to support oligarch Manuel Prado for the presidency in return for restoration of the party to political legitimacy. APRA even managed by this maneuver to elect Haya over the newcomer Belaúnde to the presidency in 1962, only to have the army veto the election by a coup. The military junta allowed elections within a year, and this time Belaúnde, advocating agrarian reform and a grassroots development program, won the presidency.

Meanwhile a radical rural insurgency inspired by the Cuban Revolution of 1959 erupted in 1965 in the highlands, where the condition of the peasantry continued to deteriorate as agricultural production declined under the anachronistic hacienda system. In 1961 Peru ranked lowest among fifty-four countries surveyed in the Gini index of land distribution, with an estimated seven hundred estate owners owning approximately one-third of the country's productive land. Belaúnde recognized the urgent need for land reform, but his program was blocked by a congress controlled by the conservative opposition coalition, APRA—UNO (Odría's old party). In the event, Belaúnde called on the armed forces to defeat the insurgency; in the process of doing so, the army was radicalized, partly under the impact of having to confront its own citizenry militarily. Many officers recognized that the outmoded land tenure system needed major reform, and when a great political scandal erupted over the issue of nationalizing the International Petroleum Company (IPC) so that back taxes owed to the government might be recovered, in 1968 the armed forces, led by General Juan Velasco Alvarado, deposed the Belaúnde government in a coup and seized power.

Unlike previous military takeovers, this one was institutional and not personal (caudillo) in nature. It called for a "revolution" that would modernize the country by ending oligarchical rule, expanding the role of the state, and nationalizing land and industry. Such a restructuring would be tightly controlled from the top in a form of state corporatism with strong populist overtones. Immediately the new government nationalized IPC, forming a new state-run oil agency known as Petroperu, and then took over the sugar plantations of the north coast in a major blow to the historic power of Peru's "forty families." This was followed by a sweeping agrarian reform program, dispossessing hacienda owners of their estates in favor of their peasant workers. Velasco declared in a 1969 speech: "Peasant, the landlord will no longer eat from your poverty." State-run cooperatives and other forms of collective management were implemented in a highly variegated and complex landholding system that included large estates (latifundio), small parcels (minifundios), and communal Indian holdings.

At the same time, the new regime promoted ISI industrialization, with the state dramatically doubling its share of the GDP to 31 percent, while replacing foreign investment capital with large loans from abroad, which over time exploded the national debt. The regime also promoted worker participation in the management and share of profits of industries. Popular support for the reform program was mobilized in a corporatist fashion with the creation of a state bureaucracy called SINAMOS, composed of cadres of technocrats and militants who guided and controlled a myriad of new state entities all the way down to the community level. Peru's economy was to be "neither capitalist nor socialist," as the government proclaimed; its foreign relations were described as a "third position" between the bipolar international system of democratic West and Communist East.

Although this radical reform program was a well-intentioned effort to redistribute Peru's extremely unequal wealth and income and create a more just social order after centuries of exploitation and oppression, it proved less than successful. Often ill-planned, mismanaged, and overly bureaucratic, it was also undermined by world events such as United State opposition, the impact of the oil embargo of 1973, and a subsequent international recession that saw demand for the country's exports decline sharply. By 1975 the initial popular reaction to the reforms had waned in the context of rising inflation, large government deficits, and an explosion of foreign debt. A more conservative group of generals replaced Velasco and began to reverse and dismantle the reforms while implementing a policy of austerity, during a so-called Second Phase (1975–1980).

Gradually, greater freedom of the media, which had been severely curtailed under Velasco's authoritarian rule, was restored, and by the end of the decade a rising tide of popular democratic sentiment persuaded the military to organize new elections, relinquish power, and return to the barracks, opening the way to a transition to democracy in 1980. The ensuing election results were a surprise, bringing the exiled Belaúnde back as president (1980–1985). He implemented orthodox, free-market, neoliberal economic policies, opening the economy to foreign investment and trade and reducing the size and scope of the state.


Belaúnde was soon faced with another, more serious insurgency. Over the next decade the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso; SL) guerrilla group virtually brought the country to its knees. It was led by Abimael Guzmán Reynoso, a charismatic, autocratic professor of philosophy who taught at a remote university in the impoverished and neglected department of Ayacucho in the southern sierra. He managed to recruit a cadre of dedicated student followers, who returned to their peasant communities as teachers to spread a version of violent Marxism and radical change. Many were the first generation from their rural Indian families to attend university and expected that their new degrees would lead to a more prosperous place and respect in the modern world. However, they were frustrated by deep-seated racial discrimination as well as an absence of employment in the stagnant or slow-growing Peruvian economy, particularly in the south.

Beyond Ayacucho, the first Belaúnde government had vastly expanded the number of universities in the country during the 1960s, in the belief that education would lead to progress and development. Nevertheless, the economy did not grow fast enough to absorb thousands of new graduates, who by the 1980s faced a bleak job market and collective disillusionment. Many turned to the Shining Path in hopes of overthrowing the existing system and making a place for themselves in a new Marxist order. As a result the Shining Path movement spread rapidly, beyond its initial stronghold in the southern sierra, gaining supporters and eventually large amounts of drug money to finance their operations from the burgeoning coca industry in the Upper Huallaga Valley. There the guerrillas moved in to protect peasant producers from U.S.-sponsored government eradication programs.

Belaúnde's unpopular neoliberal austerity program, together with the exploding SL insurgency, brought a new social democratic APRA government to power in the presidential elections of 1985. APRA, under its young leader Alan García Pérez (1985–1990), had finally come to power after decades of frustration, but it too proved unable to stem either the country's entrenched social and economic problems or the insurgency. After an initially hopeful start, adopting a heterodox, more socially responsive approach to governing, García made the mistake of abruptly nationalizing the banking system. This rash act quickly undermined confidence in the government by scaring off foreign and domestic capital investment, throwing the economy into turmoil and triggering an inflationary spiral that reached more than 7,000 percent by 1990. Moreover, by this time the decade-long Shining Path insurgency had claimed in excess of 20,000 lives, caused an estimated $15 billion in economic damage, and created more than 200,000 internally displaced refugees.


Despite such destabilizing conditions, Peru held regularly scheduled presidential elections in 1990. The surprising winner turned out to be the relatively unknown Alberto Fujimori, the son of Japanese immigrants to Peru who had risen to become rector of Peru's university system. "El Chino," as he became affectionately known, shrewdly played up his immigrant origins, outsider status, and "Oriental" work ethic to edge out the world-renowned writer Mario Vargas Llosa. Many viewed the light-skinned Vargas Llosa as a representative of the discredited traditional "white" elites and their ineffective political parties, who were widely blamed for the country's severe economic and political decline over the previous decade.

Fujimori, who had easily won in the second round of voting, in an abrupt about-face carried out the very proposal of Vargas Llosa's that had most frightened Peruvian voters: He implemented a draconian austerity program that became known as "Fujishock." It succeeded in stemming hyperinflation, encouraging the return of foreign investment, and stabilizing the economy. Riding high in the polls, Fujimori then decided in 1992 to shut down the congress for putting obstacles, as he claimed, in the way of the counterinsurgency campaign of the armed forces against the Shining Path. This "auto-coup" was followed by an extraordinary stroke of good fortune and police work, when SL leader Abimael Guzmán was captured in a Lima safe house, along with computer files identifying a large number of SL leaders. Subsequent police raids succeeded in capturing and imprisoning most of SL's remaining leadership, thereby breaking the back of the insurgency, which in its latter stages had moved into Lima and other cities, posing a serious threat to bring down the state.

Meanwhile, Fujimori secured business and U.S. support by liberalizing the economy. For example, he carried out a radical privatization program, which included mines, banks, telecommunications companies, and utilities, favoring elites and allies with sweetheart deals. The funds garnered from the sell-off of these government-run businesses were directed by the ministry of the presidency into an extensive antipoverty program that would eventually benefit the 70 percent of the population in poverty.

With the socioeconomic panorama of Peru suddenly brightening, Fujimori was able to go to the electorate in the 1995 presidential election with a renewed sense of confidence in the future. Bypassing a constitutional provision against reelection, he had congress, now restored because of international pressure but controlled by the administration, write a new one and went on to easily win reelection.

Fujimori's second term appeared to many observers an opportunity lost, both politically and economically. With SL defeated and the economy showing signs of life, El Chino could have moved to consolidate democracy and aggressively attack the problem of underdevelopment so as to help the two-thirds of the population mired in poverty. However, his real aims had been very different from the start, as a 1988 "Green Book" produced by the military high command illustrated. Fujimori apparently used this secret document as a blueprint for his new regime in 1990. It called for a long period, perhaps fifteen years, of strong authoritarian government to defeat the insurgency and stabilize the economy, while planting the seeds of authoritarianism, human rights violations, and corruption, which would not come into public view until later. Those tendencies would intensify in the second term, as Fujimori sought to extend his arbitrary personal power, further flaunt government institutions and the political party system, and cement a nefarious relationship with his national security adviser, Vladimiro Montesinos.

An obscure lawyer and former army captain with a murky past who had been cashiered for spying for the CIA, Montesinos was the architect of Fujimori's control over the military whereby promotions and retirements were based not on professional merit but on loyalty to the regime. Put in charge of the National Intelligence Service (SIN) directed against the insurgency, Montesinos turned its covert activities, as SL disintegrated after 1992, against the regime's political enemies. He was later shown to have engaged in extensive bribery of public officials, major disinformation campaigns against enemies of the regime, and widespread manipulation of the media. Even more damaging, he was implicated in some of the most heinous human rights violations perpetrated by members of the armed forces. (As of 2007, Montesinos was in the same prison in which he had incarcerated SL leader Guzmán, facing trial on an array of charges that could keep him there for the rest of his life.)

Through chicanery and fraud, the Fujimori/Montesinos team managed to engineer a third presidential term in 2000. Their methods included cajoling the judiciary to remove legal barriers to Fujimori's reelection, a monopoly on television coverage the campaign, fake registration signatures so his party could qualify to participate in the elections, and programming of electoral computers to ensure victory. However, only six weeks after his inauguration in what international observers unanimously condemned as fraudulent elections, Fujimori was brought down by the "Vladivideos" broadcast on national television showing Montesinos in the act of bribing a congressman. More compromising videos quickly appeared, leading to street demonstrations led by Alejandro Toledo, who emerged as an outspoken critic of the regime and proponent of democratization. Widespread, popular indignation led Fujimori to resign while out of the country attending an international conference and then into exile in his native Japan. Meanwhile, Montesinos fled to Venezuela, only later to be caught returning to Peru and imprisoned by the new interim government headed by Valentín Paniagua.

One of the first acts of the caretaker government was to appoint a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CVR) to investigate human rights violations during the Shining Path insurgency. After an exhaustive three-year investigation, the CVR concluded, among other things, that there were almost 70,000 fatalities during the two-decade conflict. This was, according to the CVR final report, the most intense and prolonged period of violence in the entire 182-year history of republican Peru.

New elections called in 2001 brought Alejandro Toledo (2001–2006) to the presidency, the first Peruvian with an indigenous background to gain the high office. Toledo's most enduring achievement was to serve out his presidential term despite inept political behavior, a lack of leadership, and low popular opinion ratings. During the election campaign he had promised to create thousands of new jobs and to make serious progress in reducing poverty. To his credit he did preside over a macroeconomic expansion of the GDP, averaging more than 5 percent per year during his five-year term, but little of this growth trickled down to the general population. As a result popular expectations were dashed and the gap between rich and poor widened. This divide showed up dramatically in the 2006 election results for Toledo's successor, when voting figures graphically illustrated that the country was split between a relatively more prosperous and modern urban north and the mostly rural, Indian, and impoverished south. Former president and social democrat Alan García Pérez of the APRA party won the election over his nationalist, populist opponent Ollanta Humala, a charismatic, ultranationalist former army officer and staunch opponent of the neoliberal economic program espoused by Toledo. However, despite his defeat Humala's party gained the largest number of seats in congress, promising further political conflict in the years ahead.

See alsoAgrarian Reform; Ancón, Treaty of (1883); Belaúnde Terry, Fernando; Bolívar, Simón; Bonaparte, Joseph; Castilla, Ramón; Cuba, Revolutions: Cuban Revolution; Ferdinand VII of Spain; Fujimori, Alberto Keinya; García Pérez, Alan; González Prada, Manuel; González Prada Popular Universities; Grace, W. R., and Company; Guzmán, Abimael; Haya de la Torre, Víctor Raúl; International Petroleum Company (IPC); Leguía, Augusto Bernardino; Mexico, Political Parties: National Revolutionary Party (PNR); Military Dictatorships: 1821–1945; Military Dictatorships: Since 1945; Mining: Modern; Montesinos, Vladimiro; Odría, Manuel Apolinario; Paniagua, Valentín; Pardo y Lavalle, Manuel; Peru, Organizations: National Social Mobilization Support System (Sinamos); Peru, Political Parties: Civilista Party; Peru, Political Parties: Peruvian Aprista Party (PAP/APRA); Peru, Political Parties: Popular Action (AP); Peru, Revolutionary Movements: Shining Path; Peru, Truth Commissions; Plantations; Sánchez Cerro, Luis Manuel; San Martín, José Francisco de; Sugar Industry; Toledo, Alejandro; Túpac Amaru (José Gabriel Condorcanqui); Velasco Alvarado, Juan.


Clayton, Lawrence. Peru and the United States: The Condor and the Eagle. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1999.

Conaghan, Catherine M. Fujimori's Peru: Deception in the Public Sphere. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005.

Higgins, James. Lima: A Cultural History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Hunefeldt, Christine. A Brief History of Peru. New York: Facts on File, 2004.

Klarén, Peter Flindell. Peru: Society and Nationhood in the Andes. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Larson, Brooke. Trials of Nation Making: Liberalism, Race, and Ethnicity in the Andes, 1810–1910. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

McClintock, Cynthia, and Fabian Vallas. The United States and Peru: Cooperation at a Cost. New York: Routledge, 2003.

Sheahan, John. Searching for a Better Society: The Peruvian Economy from 1950. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999.

Starn, Orin, Carlos Iván Degregori, and Robin Kirk, eds. The Peru Reader: History, Culture, Politics, 2nd edition. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005.

                                             Peter KlarÉn