Restless populist Alberto Fujimori dominates Peru. Here he talks to
World Statesman about his achievements and his future plans
Public opinion surveys suggest that Peruvians are the most optimistic
people in South America with regard to their country's progress. Why is
My explanation, which seems logical to me, is as follows. In a
relatively short time there have been several very positive changes with
regard to economic stabilisation and the pacification of the country,
especially the latter, and this encourages optimism amongst Peruvians.
Most people are constantly contrasting the situation in Peru before 1990
and that in 1996.
What is more, now, because of national reconstruction and the resulting
climate of confidence, we have investment. Everywhere there are new
buildings, new businesses, the urban landscape has changed and the rural
environment is undergoing a significant transformation as a result of
the construction of roads and bridges and the arrival of the telephone
and other services. Peruvian optimism can be explained in the light of
What are the key immediate economic and social challenges?
The first challenge is to maintain control of our economy in order to
guarantee our continued growth, perhaps not as spectacular as heretofore,
but certainly above the regional average. This means continuing to
conduct economic policy with financial discipline whilst at the same
time aiming to encourage production with a view to promoting healthy
Another important challenge is to get a real market economy up and
running once and for all, with economic agents respecting and conforming
with the regulations.
And our social challenge is to deliver in the next five years the most
we can in the way of education, roadworks, health and energy
infrastructure to economically deprived areas in the countryside and in
the cities. That is, to make all possible progress with social
development and the fight against poverty.
You have faced criticism about the dissolving of Congress and your
ruling without it. How do you respond to this criticism?
This criticism is rather untimely and, what is more, Peru's own
political development provides the answer. A period of emergency
measures was required in order to defeat terrorism and save Peruvian
democracy. That is the great historical justification. Some may say that
the 5th of April and the emergency measures, which by the way were not
extreme, were unnecessary. However, for ten years, from 1980 to 1990,
those critics did nothing, with the result that terrorism in 1990, when
my government came to power, was a very strong presence and a threat to
Such criticism, apart from being opportunistic, lacks authority. What is
more, after the 5th of April we have had the Constituent Assembly and
three absolutely faultless elections, with international observers who
certified to the integrity of the democratic process. These elections
had only one defect: my critics and opponents did not win. That was not
my fault. The people made their choice.
Do you think that you have done enough to change the social and
economic conditions which led to the emergence of the violent Left in
I always call myself a pragmatist and a realist in this sense, and I
cannot say for certain that enough has been done, only that we have done
our best to reverse that situation. The social and economic conditions
which provide the background for terrorist violence have been building
up for decades; the symptoms of under-development, backwardness and
poverty are acute in various parts of our country, but - as I am one of
the presidents who has travelled most in the interior of Peru and who
knows it well - I can assure you that we are now working extremely hard
and investing every dollar of our resources in the most rational and
Five years' work in hundreds of Andean communities, amongst the most
isolated and backward, and work in the marginal areas of Lima and other
cities, which I always invite foreign journalists to find out about for
themselves, is the best proof of what I am saying. I like to respond
with actual facts rather than mere words.
How do you assess your current relationship with the army?
My relationship with the army has never been other than normal: I am the
Supreme Head of the armed forces in Peru. I can indeed say that the
directions given to the armed forces to work with the people in the
eradication of poverty are being fulfilled to the letter. The Peruvian
army not only handles weapons and tanks, but engineering batallions and
bulldozers; they open the way through for roads and take part in
development work just like other military organisations.
How do you see your current relationship with Ecuador?
Good, in the hopeful context of the peace talks which stemmed from the
Itamaraty Agreement and which have a broader context in the Rio de
As you know, in January 1995, Ecuadorian troops invaded Peruvian
territory in the Alto Cenepa area. With the support of the governments
of Brazil, Chile, Argentina and the US, in their capacity as guarantors
of the 1942 Rio de Janeiro Convention, the Itamaraty Peace Declaration
was signed on 17th February 1995.
The guarantor countries attached to the said Declaration another
document reaffirming that the legal framework for resolving
disagreements between Peru and Ecuador was the Rio Convention. From
January this year we have begun holding diplomatic talks, firstly in
Lima and then in Quito, where an agreement was reached. As a result, in
March last year, after signing this agreement in Quito, Ecuador and Peru
submitted their respective 'lists of the points of impasse'.
For more than 40 years, Ecuador has been putting forward various
'theses' with regard to their political aspirations. It is satisfying to
see that these matters have been finally dealt with once and for all.
This was the result of the valuable support of the guarantor countries,
who are convinced of the need to study in depth the bilateral process
established in the Rio Convention for the resolution of disagreements.
Therefore, there does appear to be a real possibility of managing to
overcome the existing impasses, which it is thought will take some time.
The Peruvian government will do all it can to achieve this, encouraging
the government of Ecuador to pursue the same objective.
Is there any future for the proposed Andean Community?
Indeed, there is a very promising future for the Andean Community. It is
necessary to understand that in these times of globalisation and
liberation of the international economy, countries such as those which
make up the Andean Community - Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and
Venezuela - must act in a concerted way if they are to participate
effectively both on the level of economic-commercial exchange and in the
promotion of social and political integration, which is becoming
In order to perfect this co-ordination of aims and interests we were
able to sign not long ago, in Trujillo in northern Peru, the
Modification to the Cartagena Agreement, in which this Andean Community
is established. It has been our wish to set aside for the integration of
the Andean sub-regions the necessary instruments for economic progress,
at the same time creating new links to integrate our peoples, over and
above the purely commercial ones, connecting them with all the other
sectors of importance for our respective countries. In particular, we
understand the idea of community to mean the participation of people,
together with the various Andean organisations and institutions, in the
achievement of a common objective.
This qualitative advance in the ideal of sub-regional integration will
even include a new perception of the necessary community democracy,
providing for the establishment of direct universal suffrage for
choosing representatives to the Andean Parliament, in five years' time
at the latest.
For Peruvians, it is particularly significant that this new Andean
prospect has been achieved in our country, as it demonstrates
unequivocably that we are on the side of integration, and that in order
to achieve this we will continue to overcome constructively the
differences which still exist between our different perceptions of the
model of integration.
You plan to bring in US$1,000 million through privatisation in 1996. Is
the programme on course to achieve this?
Privatisation is one of the key reforms for transforming Peru into a
market economy based on the private sector. Since my re-election as
president we have been accelerating privatisation. Companies in key
sectors are being privatised in the coming months. We hope to start
privatising the state oil company PETROPERU, the mining complex
CENTROMIN, and the energy generating system ELECTROPERU. All these
concerns are privatised by units of production. By 1998 most of the
state-owned companies will be privatised. Income from privatisation in
1996 will be approximately US$1,500 million, including the sale of the
state's minority share in the telephone and electrical distribution
What are the key sectors for foreign investment?
Peru has become a magnet for foreign investors. Foreign investment has
increased substantially from US$1,300 million in 1990 to US$5,400
million in 1995. What is more, two-thirds of this is direct long-term
foreign investment. In spite of the considerable increase in foreign
investment already, there are still enormous opportunities awaiting
Peru has a huge potential in agriculture. Peru has a natural
'greenhouse' climate on the central coast, an area which is very close
to the sea, with no rain or pests, and which can be cultivated all year
round. Peruvian asparagus and mangos are already well known throughout
the world for their superior quality.
Peru is one of the main producers of silver, lead, copper and gold. The
privatisation of the state oil company will increase investment in oil
exploration and exploitation. Peru offers tourists a whole range of
climates and eco-systems and an impressive array of landscapes and
natural sites. Peruvian culture and its historic heritage, with its many
archeological sites, also make it a great tourist attraction.
What measures have you adopted to encourage investment?
It is well known that a necessary condition for investment to flourish
is a stable macro-economic environment. Peru has achieved this stable
macro-economic environment, with low inflation, decreasing interest
rates and sound progress towards high and sustained growth. Peru has the
most favorable laws for private investment in Latin America: a
completely open capital account, no restrictions on remittances, no tax
on dividends, a flexible labour market, tax stability agreements and a
system of income tax on companies which is in line with international
Finally, are you optimistic about the future of Peru?
Wholly optimistic. Peru is changing; its people are hard working and
they have a new, progressive mentality. This is the best that can happen
to a country
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©Kensington Publications 1996