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Last Updated: Monday, 5 June 2006, 06:24 GMT 07:24 UK
Garcia's spectacular comeback
By Rob Norris
BBC News

Girl holds promotional poster for Peruvian presidential candidate Alan Garcia
Garcia promised to implement "responsible change"
Alan Garcia's victory in Peru is a remarkable political comeback for a man who was written off as a failure after his first stint as president.

He spent years in the political wilderness, living abroad, before he judged the time was right to try to return to office.

The bad old days of rampant inflation, food shortages and a bloody rebel insurgency - are what most Peruvians remember about Mr Garcia's first time in office from 1985 to 1990.

But he told voters that he had changed and had learnt from his past mistakes.

There would be no return to the days of inflation running at 7,000%.

Rock bottom

He blamed his earlier failures on youth and inexperience - he was in his mid-30s when he was first elected president.

His lowest point came when he fled Peru in 1992, facing charges of financial corruption.

He always denied any wrongdoing, and said the charges were politically motivated.

He stayed abroad for nine years, living in Colombia and Europe, writing books about Latin America.

He returned in 2001 when all the charges against him were dropped, to contest the presidential election that year.

He lost to Alejandro Toledo, the current president, but only narrowly, and this encouraged him to stand again.

Charisma

Now he's 57 - still a tall, imposing figure towering over most of his countrymen, and still a dazzling orator, exuding wit and charm.

Peruvian presidential candidate Alan Garcia
From corruption charges to the campaign trail

He has now been a member of Peru's oldest political party, the centre-left Apra, for 30 years. Voters felt they knew him.

And, unlike his rival Ollanta Humala, he's no friend of the Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, who's a vociferous critic of the United States. Mr Garcia made this point time and time again on the campaign trail.

"Peru will not be part of Washington's axis or Mr Chavez's axis," he said, "it will maintain a sovereign position."

He presented himself to the voters as the moderate choice, an older, wiser, safer pair of hands, more friendly to business than his rival.

He even made the astonishing admission that many Peruvians would be holding their noses as they voted for him as the least worse choice.

He knows he has a lot to prove if he is not to disappoint a second time around.


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