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Peru freer, richer today

The Associated Press

When Alberto Fujimori abandoned the presidency in November 2000, faxing his resignation from Japan, his ancestral homeland, thousands of Peruvians celebrated the end of an increasingly oppressive regime that was clinging to power in constitutionally questionable ways.


But his legacy lives on in the free-market reforms he introduced and the political violence he snuffed out. Peru today is prospering and peaceful. Democracy, meanwhile, has survived Fujimori's authoritarian ways, deepening its roots under two presidents who were judged to have been freely and honestly elected.


Subsequent governments have not had to contend with violence or the hyperinflation Fujimori inherited when he was elected in 1990, and opinion polls show many Peruvians still admire him.


After he was forced to flee, his elected successor was Alejandro Toledo, the first Peruvian president of Indian descent. The incumbent since 2006 is Alan Garcia, who had already been president from 1985 to 1990.


Many Fujimori supporters are quick to note parallels between Fujimori and Garcia. Garcia also fled into exile to escape corruption charges and political persecution after Fujimori closed Congress, but was able to return and run for president again because the statute of limitations on the charges had run out.


Fujimori, 69, was extradited to Peru a month ago. He is to be tried on charges of corruption, kidnapping and murder and could be jailed for 30 years.

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