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Last Updated: Monday, 5 June 2006, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
Profile: Alan Garcia
Alan Garcia on the campaign trail
Garcia admitted his mistakes but asked for another chance
When Alan Garcia left office in 1990, most Peruvians must have assumed the tiller of power had slipped from his grasp for good.

Under his rule, inflation multiplied, reaching four figures; the Shining Path guerrilla insurgency had surged unchecked; corruption was rampant.

Mr Garcia fled the country in 1992, facing corruption charges and with troops despatched to arrest him.

Nine years later he returned to Peru to stand in presidential elections.

He lost to Alejandro Toledo - but only by a slender margin. Mr Garcia had signalled that he was back.

And in 2006, to the astonishment of many onlookers, Mr Garcia triumphantly regained the presidency.

Meteoric rise

Alan Garcia was born to middle-class parents in the Peruvian capital Lima on 23 May 1949. He studied law in Lima and Madrid, and then sociology in Paris - where he once said he partly financed his studies by busking with his guitar.

Mr Garcia joined the centre-left American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (Apra) party in 1976, and was elected to the constitutional assembly in 1978.

In 1980 he won a seat in Congress. He went on to become secretary-general of Apra and then, in 1985, he was elected president.

Alan Garcia gives a speech in Congress in 1985
A youthful Garcia failed to live up to his apparent flair

Only 36 at the time, he was hailed as "Peru's JFK", but it was an image that quickly tarnished.

Under Mr Garcia's rule, Peru defaulted on its debt payments. A bungled attempt to nationalise the banking sector followed, and populist economic policies triggered hyperinflation that topped 7,500%.

By 1990, the money that would have bought a new car in 1985 was barely enough for a box of matches. Impoverished Peruvians were forced to queue in the streets for food, and internationally Peru became an economic pariah.

The instability exacerbated social tensions and partly fuelled the rise of the Shining Path insurgency.

In some instances, the Peruvian armed forces were accused of executing brutal reprisals on peasant populations suspected of collaborating with the guerrillas.

Mr Garcia lost the presidency to Alberto Fujimori, and in 1992 fled the country entirely, accused of embezzling millions of dollars.

During nine years in exile in Germany, France and Colombia, he authored several books on Peru and Latin America.

Return

In 2001, Peru's Supreme Court ruled the statute of limitations on the corruption charges facing Mr Garcia - which he had always denied - had run out. He returned to Peru, registering immediately to stand in elections that year. He lost, but in 2006 he stood again.

Do you think I want my tombstone to read: 'He was so stupid that he made the same mistakes twice'?
Alan Garcia, 2006

Despite his reputation for mismanagement, some Peruvians retained a fondness for Mr Garcia's powerful oratory and physical charisma - at 1.88m (6' 2"), he is unusually tall for a Peruvian.

He focused heavily on attracting the youth vote, many of whom had only vague memories of his time as president.

He launched a bid to woo female voters, promising to appoint an equal number of women and men in his Cabinet, and to achieve equal pay for both sexes.

Mural supporting Alan Garcia for president
Garcia skilfully regained a popular following in 2006

He promised to create thousands of jobs and to divert more of the country's mineral wealth to the poor by taxing mining firms' profits. At the same time, he assured investors he would maintain fiscal prudence.

Mr Garcia skilfully turned voters against his opponent, Ollanta Humala, by highlighting his links with the radical Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Mr Garcia, who is married with five children, vows he has changed since his last stint in office.

"My desire is not to repeat any of the errors I may have made," he said recently. "Do you think I want my tombstone to read: 'He was so stupid that he made the same mistakes twice'?

"There will be no inflation. I am going to make absolutely sure of that, because the name my children will inherit depends on it."


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