Jailed autocrat's daughter is on course to take the presidency
FOR SOMEONE who has not been seen or heard in public for more than a year, incarcerated former president Alberto Fujimori is casting a long shadow over the campaign to choose Peru's next leader.
The disgraced autocrat is believed by many Peruvians to be orchestrating the campaign of his daughter, Keiko, from the jail where he is serving a 25-year sentence for embezzlement and directing paramilitary death squads. Running on a hard-right law and order agenda, Ms Fujimori is the favourite to win a run-off election on 5 June.
The 35-year-old congresswoman has built up a consistent but narrow lead over her left-wing rival, the former army lieutenant- colonel Ollanta Humala, whose economic plans to favour the poor scare wealthier voters.
Yet many fear that a victory for Ms Fujimori would see her free her father and effectively hand him the reins of power, reopening a dark chapter of Peru's history, which saw extrajudicial killings and corruption, and culminated with Mr Fujimori fleeing the country in 2000.
An apparent campaign of intimidation against journalists and activists has heightened those concerns. The writer Mario Vargas Llosa said this week that the harassment heralded more serious abuses should Ms Fujimori win the presidency just "as swallows announce spring".
Mr Vargas Llosa criticised Ms Fujimori for surrounding herself with the same advisers who formed her father's inner circle during his time in power "except for the ones in jail for being murderers and thieves" and accused Mr Fujimori of directing his daughter's campaign.
Investigations by the Peruvian newspaper La Republica have revealed a heavy flow of visitors, including lorries carrying campaign materials, to Barbadillo, the 72-year-old former autocrat's jail, where he is the sole inmate. The people guarding the gates are not warders but Fujimori supporters.
The paper detailed how John Kayser, the police officer in charge of security at Barbadillo, was removed from his post for refusing to relax regulations. …