Alberto Fujimori

Fujimori, Alberto (älbĕrˈtō fōˌjĭmôrˈē) [key], 1938–, president of Peru (1990–2000), b. Lima, Peru. The son of Japanese immigrants, he was educated in Peru and attended Univ. of Wisconsin. Fujimori was an unknown economist when he scored an upset in the 1990 presidential elections. He inherited a nation experiencing a severe economic crisis and facing one of Latin America's most brutal guerrilla insurgencies, the Shining Path. He slashed inflation and restored economic confidence by cutting subsidies, aggressively collecting taxes, and raising prices.

In 1992 he suspended congress and the courts and declared emergency rule to combat corruption and the Shining Path terrorism. Under strong international pressure, he announced elections to a new congress, but these were boycotted by the principal opposition parties. A break with his wife, Susana Higuchi, a civil engineer, led to her abortive attempt (1994) to contest his bid for reelection; they were divorced in 1995. In the presidential election (1995), he defeated Javier Pérez de Cuéllar.

Despite high popularity ratings from the Peruvian public, Fujimori was widely criticized for autocratic rule and suppression of opposition voices. He retained office in the 2000 presidential election after Alejandro Toledo Manrique withdrew from the May runoff because of the expectation of fraud; in April, the election commission had been accused by observers of trying to steal the election in the first round. After his chief adviser, Vladimiro Montesinos, was accused of bribing opposition lawmakers in September, Fujimori offered to hold new presidential elections in which he would not run, but he ultimately resigned in November while traveling in Japan. He remained in exile in Japan, and the Japanese government subsequently recognized him as a Japanese citizen.

Charged by the Peruvian congress with dereliction of duty for failing to return, he also had a variety of Peruvian criminal charges filed against him, and was banned from holding elected office until 2010. In 2005 he visited Chile as a prelude to launching a bid for the Peruvian presidency and was detained at the government of Peru's request; a subsequent attempt to register him as a Peruvian presidential candidate was denied. In Sept., 2007, following a prosecutor's recommendation, the Chilean courts approved his extradition to Peru. Despite being placed under house arrest during the court proceedings, he was an unsuccessful candidate for Japan's Diet in July, 2007. In Dec., 2007, he was convicted in Peru of ordering an illegal search in 2000; he was also convicted on human rights charges in Apr., 2009, and on bribery charges in July, 2009, and pleaded guilty to wiretapping and embezzlement charges arising from the 2000 election in Sept., 2009.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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