This section deals with only one Peruvian president, Fernando Belaúnde Terry. He was first elected president in 1963 and served until he was overthrown by the Army on October 3, 1968. Then, at the end of a twelve-year military regime, he was rather surprisingly reelected in 1980 and served out his full constitutional period in office.
I met Belaúnde in three different periods. I first talked with him in 1956, soon after his first candidacy for president, which he lost. My second encounter with him was in the middle of the 1962 campaign in which he was once again the nominee of his party, Acción Popular, for president. Finally, I had several conversations with Belaúnde early in 1969, when he was in exile in the United States, a few months after he was overthrown.
In these conversations, President Belaúnde sketches in some detail the circumstances of his becoming a politician, his various efforts to become president, and his actions when he was chief executive the first time. However, some further elaboration of the background of his career is in order.
During the 1920s, Peru had been governed by a dictator, President Augusto Leguía. His regime was overthrown in 1930 by a military coup led by Lt. Col. Luís M. Sánchez Cerro. A year later, Sánchez Cerro was elected president, officially defeating Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre, the leader of the Aprista Party (Partido Aprista Peruano).
Haya de la Torre was undoubtedly the most important single Peruvian politician in the twentieth century.