Phantom Menace: Toledo in Post-Fujimori Peru

Article excerpt

Since the collapse of Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori's authoritarian government in November 2000, democratically elected President Alejandro Toledo Manrique has tried to design policies to continue economic growth, provide civil security, and cultivate Peruvian democracy. However, domestic terrorists are regaining their foothold, wide-scale strikes are occurring throughout the country, and the authoritarian ghost of Fujimori's regime hangs over Toledo's presidency. In the midst of this abrupt regime change in a poverty-stricken and conflict-ridden nation, Peruvians are still dealing with the tradeoff between authoritarian rule and civil rights, democratic rule and stability.

Although authoritarian, Fujimori's government enjoyed relatively high levels of popularity because Fujimori was able to relieve Peru's severe economic and security problems. In the 1980s and early 1990s, Peru suffered from severe inflation, and most of its citizens lived without access to basic services. Fujimori brought key infrastructure to the countryside and integrated Peru into the international economy with government intervention and restructuring of the national economy. He also addressed a major national security threat by crushing the Maoist Shining Path movement that had been terrorizing the countryside. Popular support for Fujimori's government declined only later in his tenure, when the slaying of students and the shooting of 15 people in the Barrios Altos neighborhood of Lima by the Fujimori- and National Intelligence Agency- affiliated Colina Group were uncovered.

Unfortunately, Toledo has had a series of failures in bringing further economic or security improvements to Peru. Since national economic development policy is centered on building infrastructure to extract and export Peru's natural gas supplies, it has been successful in gathering foreign capital but has done little to relieve massive domestic poverty. The economic stagnation resulting from domestic problems and the downturn in the international economy has compelled teachers, farmers, and court employees to stage strikes across the nation. …