Peruvians are witnessing a tense power struggle between President
Alberto Fujimori and his former spy chief and political adviser,
Mr. Montesinos is the one on the run, trying to evade Peruvian
authorities. But Mr. Fujimori is under pressure too, facing public
demands for his resignation and questions about his control over the
In a surprise move, Fujimori announced Saturday that he had
replaced the three generals in charge of the Army, Navy, and Air
Force, who were close Montesinos allies. Fujimori also fired Gen.
Luis Cubas Portal, Montesinos's brother-in-law, as commander of the
Lima military region.
"The presence of Montesinos in Peru generates problems for
Fujimori," says political analyst Alberto Adrianzen. "It causes
Fujimori pain to have to distance himself from Montesinos, but the
circumstances - in particular, pressure from the United States -
In September, a leaked video showed Montesinos apparently bribing
an opposition congress member, prompting Fujimori to announce he
would call new elections in which he would not be a candidate.
Montesinos fled to Panama, where he was seeking political asylum.
But last he week he unexpectedly returned to Peru, generating
international criticism and a storm of protest within Peru.
Organization of American States Secretary-General Cesar Gaviria, who
had rallied 10 heads of state to go to bat for Montesinos's asylum
bid in Panama, had particularly harsh words for Fujimori following
the spy chief's return.
In a move designed to show Peruvians and the international
community who's boss, Fujimori personally led police and military
officials on a theatrical five-hour hunt for Montesinos last
Wednesday afternoon and vowed the search will continue until the
former presidential adviser is located.
Mr. Gaviria returned last week to oversee a special meeting aimed
at bringing government and opposition representatives back to the
OAS negotiating table. The opposition had withdrawn from OAS-
brokered talks earlier last week after the government suddenly
presented a controversial amnesty proposal as a condition for new
But to the surprise of many, the government quickly abandoned the
amnesty proposal as a precondition - although a modified version
remains on the table - allowing opposition leaders to emerge from
the meeting with a firm election date of April 8, 2001.
The hunt for Montesinos has dropped in intensity, and there's
skepticism over whether Fujimori's changes to the military command
are little more than cosmetic.
The new commander in chief, Walter Chacon, is Fujimori's former
Interior Minister and a Montesinos man, as are the commander
generals of most of the military regions. …