The Peruvian presidential election of mid- 1990 took place amidst the worst crisis that the country faced in this century. The factors characterizing the economic debacle closely mirrored those previously analyzed in Argentina and Brazil in 1989, only to a worse degree. According to an official statement ( COPRI 1993: 8-9):
Between 1985 and 1990 prices increased twenty thousand times. The economy underwent the second longest-running hyperinflation recorded for any country in this century. . . . The country was isolated from the international financial community . . . [debt] arrears were above $14 billion (70% of total debt). Peru had been declared ineligible by the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. Export figures were 40% lower than in the previous decade . . . In July 1990 international reserves were a negative US$50 million. The state was broke.
What made Peru's crisis much more dramatic than the previous two cases was the level of political violence. The country was in a virtual state of civil war and a state of emergency was enforced in two-thirds of the national territory affecting half of the Peruvian population. Ten years of guerrilla warfare claimed the lives of over 26,000 people and caused damages estimated at $22 billion. 1
Alan Garcia, whose charisma, youth, and promises for a better future had raised high hopes among different sectors of Peruvian society upon taking office in 1985 (much like Alfonsin and Sarney), became a lame duck president by the end of his term (at the time the Peruvian constitution prevented a consecutive second term). Like his Argentine and Brazilian counterparts, his political image was in complete disrepute by the time he left office. In early 1989, public opinion polls in metropolitan Lima put Garcia's support at no more than 10 per cent. His dismal performance from the start dumped the electoral chances of APRA's next presidential candidate, Luis Alva Castro. However, the crisis did taint the credibility of opposition parties as well. By mid-1990, traditional parties were generally perceived as inept and corrupt. The left-wing coalition that put up the strongest challenge to Garcia in 1985 became plagued by internal rivalries and split into two different tickets. As stressed by Dietz ( 1992: 251), 'The inability of the parties that dominated electoral politics during the 1980s to cope with the protracted and deep economic crisis . . . greatly weakened them and contributed to the