November 17, 2005 [LINK]
Fujimori stays behind bars
A judicial review panel in Chile has approved the detention of Alberto Fujimori, as Peru prepares a legal briefing in support of its request to have Fujimori returned to Peru. There is a 60-day deadline, so he may remain in Chile until January. See CNN.com. As a gesture of protest against Japan's refusal to cooperate with the request to extradite its former president, Peru recalled its ambassador to Japan last week.
The background to Fujimori's bold gamble remain obscure, but the decision to return to Peru apparently was precipitated by a political pact between Cambio 90 and a party called "Si Cumple" (meaning, "yes, he carries out"), whose leader Luis Delgado Aparicio recently visited Fujimori in Japan. Since there have been no statements in English on his Web site since October 4, 2004 (when he denied accusations that he had pocketed charitable donations from Japan), I thought it would be useful to translate the farewell address to Japan he made ten days ago (see his Web site):
MESSAGE FROM ALBERTO FUJIMORI, LEAVING JAPAN
At the end of November 2000, being president of Peru, then in Tokyo, I took the painful decision to resign this office, assuming the immense political cost for doing so. Since then, in truth, a campaign of persecution and defamation without precedent in Peruvian history was launched by my adversaries.
My self-exile is reaching its end. I have become deeply indebted to Japan for its generous hospitality and of its people, which is the people of my ancestors; for the affection of friends who know Peru and the works of my government and that they never wavered in offering me their support to make my stay in this country bearable, and becoming acquainted with the Japanese economy and technology so that it might serve as a model of Peruvian development.
To this fortunate stay, in spite of the cost of being so far distanced from Peru, I owe to all my Japanese friends who never wavered in supporting me; to them my eternal thanks.
And my special message to the Japanese people, to their authorities: I leave Japan on route to Peru, to carry out the pledge of honor acquired from millions of my countrymen, so that the historical truth be expressed. One by one I shall overcome the accusations, and I shall restore my innocence and honor.
Once in Peru I hope to return to work boldly for my fatherland, for its people, so that we Peruvians may have, as a national collectivity, a prominent place in the world.
For reasons that only politics can explain, I have waited five years to begin this effort. I have the fortune of a great Japanese experience, of contact with the extraordinary and unstoppable progress of Japan's science and economy, which I have tried to assimilate for the benefit of Peru.
Thank you, friends, I am going to meet my destiny, alwasy sure of counting on your generous support and understanding that we achieve in all the works in which Japanese cooperation was present.
Thank you, friends, we do not bid farewell, we are only separating for a moment. For the rest, just as in these years of self-exile Peru was always in my heart, and from now on, with the same sentiment, Japan will be as well.
KONO GONEN KAN TAIHEN OSEWANI NARIMASHITE, DOMO ARIGATO GOZAIMASHITA.
November 7, 2005
One gesture of trust and faith in Peru that Fujimori could make to show that he is truly committed to serve his native country once again would be to renounce the Japanese citizenship that was conferred upon him during his exile. Holding dual citizenship raises questions about the strength of his loyalty. I was fortunate to interview or at least meet a few people who had served in the Fujimori government, and I am very curious whether he will be open to interviews from scholars and journalists as he presses ahead with the effort to restore his tarnished name. Is he a big enough man to admit that he made some big mistakes?
Campaign in Chile nears end
With one month to go before the presidential elections in Chile, the candidate of leftist "Concertación" bloc, Michelle Bachelet, has a commanding lead in the latest polls, 44 percent, to 20 percent for Joaquín Lavín, running on the ticket of the Indepdendent Democratic Union. Both are fairly young, in their early fifties. According to her Web site, Bachelet is a multilingual medical doctor who has studied military sciences at the postgraduate level. During the Allende government, she was a student leader of Socialist Youth. She has served as Minister of Health and later Minister of Defense in the government of Ricardo Lagos, who has been president since 2000. The likely runner-up, Lavín, is a "Chicago Boy" (with a Masters Degree in Economics ) and was elected mayor of Santiago in 2000. See his Web site.
Mexico - Venezuela tensions
Mexico and Venezuela have recalled diplomats from each other's country, because of the dispute over an insulting comment by Hugo Chavez toward Mexico's President Fox and his free trade policies during the recent Summit of the Americas. Chavez had stooped to crude macho posturing, which the proud and dignified Fox deeply resented. See CNN.com.
Uruguay - Argentina tensions
People in Argentina are protesting a paper pulp mill project that is under construction in Uruguay. Fearing polluted runoff into the Uruguay River that separates the nations, the Argentines are threatening to shut down the natural pipeline that the new plants will depend on for energy. A Finnish company, Metsa-Botnia, and a Spanish company, Ence, are investing about $1.7 billion into the project. According to the Washington Post, much of the opposition stems from nationalistic resentment of "exploitation" by foreigners.
Haiti elections delayed
The presidential elections in Haiti, scheduled for this month, have been postponed until December 27. The country remains deeply divided and tormented by gangs of rival warlords, and hopes for a clean resolution to the deep socio-political conflicts remain slim.