Friday, October 12, 2012

Could Fujimori be Pardoned?

On Wednesday, the family of imprisoned former leader Alberto Fujimori requested his formal pardon from Peruvian President Ollanta Humala on humanitarian grounds. Fujimori is suffering from a number of health problems, and has undergone several surgeries for cancer of the tongue. Humala has continually denied that he is considering granting the pardon, and repeated his position prior to the request, saying it was "not on the government's agenda."  But according to Peruvian journalist Cesar Hildebrandt, the decision could lie not with him but with his wife, First Lady Nadine Heredia.

Heredia has been a visible presence in the Humala administration, and opinion polls demonstrate that Peruvians view her as the second most powerful figure in the country. It is widely speculated that she will attempt to run for the presidency when Humala’s term ends, despite the fact that she is legally banned from doing so. As Hildebrandt points out, Heredia may be able to garner support for the repeal of this legislation amongst the Fujimorista opposition if she promises to pardon the former leader during her term.  However, Sexto Poder reports that the leader’s daughter Keiko Fuijimori has denied the existence of any such deal, and Heredia has refused to comment on the matter.

The Fujimorista camp could also appeal to legal precedent for his release. While he is serving a 25-year term due to his links to a paramilitary death squad known as Grupo Colina which operated in the early 1990s, the Peruvian Supreme Court ruled in July that that the massacres committed by the paramilitary organization did not constitute “grave human rights abuses.” Fujimori’s defense lawyer, Cesar Nakazaki, has said that the decision strengthens the case for his clients release.

In a statement released yesterday, Human Rights Watch called on the government of Peru not to offer Fujimori any “special treatment,” noting that the country’s obligations under international law require the government to punish perpetrators of human rights abuses like Fujimori.


News Briefs
  • Siglo21 reports that Guatemalan Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz announced yesterday that nine members of the military (a colonel and eight soldiers) had been arrested for the October 4th massacre of eight indigenous activists in the western province of Totonicapan. The commanding officer, Colonel Juan Chiroy Sal, is accused of ignoring the orders of National Police to avoid directly confronting the protesters. The L.A. Times notes that the arrests are a “remarkable development in a country where the army was long considered untouchable despite egregious abuses.”
  • Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles announced yesterday that he will run for re-election as governor of Miranda state, where he will face off against Hugo Chavez’s former vice president Elias Jaua in December’s gubernatorial race. El Universal reports that campaigns for the upcoming election are slated to begin on November 1st.
  • The Washington Post profiles the case of Argentine warship La Libertad, which was seized in Ghana on October 2nd at the request of U.S. creditors, who are seeking repayment for Argentine state bonds. A judge in the African country has ruled that the ship cannot set sail again until Argentina settles its debt. The Center for Economic and Policy Research’s Americas Blog has more in-depth background on the issue.
  • El Universal and Reuters report that the Mexican Congress has approved a strict anti-money laundering bill, which will require companies in Mexico to report cash purchases of assets like cars, real estate and jewelry.
  • The U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has designated the Salvadoran street gang Mara Salvatrucha as a violent transnational criminal organization, on par with Mexico's Zetas or the Italian mafia. AFP and the BBC note that this allows U.S. officials to seize the gang’s assets.
  • Despite enduring skepticism about Mexico’s claim to have killed Zetas leader Heriberto Lazcano (the government has yet to locate his body, which was reportedly stolen from a funeral home on the night of his death), the U.S. government has acknowledged his death in a congratulatory statement from issued by the DEA.
  • The New York Times takes a critical look at the Haitian charity of hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean, which went out of business last month and is under investigation for the misuse of some $16 million in donations.
  • AFP reports that the foreign ministers of Brazil and Argentina met yesterday in Buenos Aires to discuss relations between the two countries, as well as Venezuela’s membership in Mercosur and Paraguay’s political climate.
  • The Boston Globe reports that more than 2,700 pages of documents from the Robert F. Kennedy Papers were released yesterday, most of which deal with the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The paper notes that the documents, available for download at www.jfklibrary.org, illustrate the central role that Robert Kennedy played as a go-between with Soviet officials.