Page last updated at 16:07 GMT, Tuesday, 7 April 2009 17:07 UK

Head to head: Fujimori verdict

Peru's former president Alberto Fujimori has been found guilty of ordering death-squad killings and kidnappings in the 1990s.

Speaking before the special court delivered its verdict on 7 April, two Peruvians gave their views on their country's former leader.

Monica Miranda
Ms Miranda spray-paints slogans calling for a guilty verdict at a rally in Lima

Monica Miranda is an activist from Lima.

He has to go to prison because he committed many crimes.

As president, the representative of all Peruvians, he violated the human rights of many of them.

He will be judged and sentenced for those human rights crimes - that is to say he had people killed.

He also violated the constitution, committed crimes of corruption and embezzlement for which he is not yet being tried.

Me personally, I was in school when he took office and he carried out the coup dissolving the parliament and courts when I had just finished school.

When I was at university there was a lot of persecution of students. I had friends who were forced to flee the country for political reasons.

For those who stayed, we had all our democratic rights to protest and organise severely restricted.

'Least worst leader'

To a degree, I am pleased that he is being tried in Peru, something which has not happened in the majority of Latin American countries where dictators continue to walk free.

I feel proud that the state is trying him while he is still alive.

Peruvian former President Alberto Fujimori, file pic from June 2008

On the other hand, he will only be punished for some of the crimes he committed, that is something that needs to be dealt with.

He needs to be charged and tried for the totality of his crimes, especially the rampant corruption. These cases are just the tip of the iceberg.

The problem in Peru is that we are used to making do with the least bad option - not the best, just the least-worst leader.

So if one does something positive this supposedly covers up all the negative things he has done.

The people have a certain tolerance for impunity if there were positive achievements - that is something which has to change.

Either you are good or you are not. We cannot allow someone who is more or less OK but commits crimes to be then judged as a good president.

I understand he did positive things for many Peruvians who had been abandoned by all the previous governments, but that doesn't absolve him of his crimes now and it never will.


Fernando Ayala is originally from the Andean region of Ayacucho, the birthplace of the Shining Path and the heart of the violence in the 1980s and 1990s. He now lives in Manchay on the outskirts of Lima with other migrants who were internally displaced during that period.

Fernando Ayala
Mr Ayala works as a manager in Manchay on the outskirts of Lima

I was 14 or 15 years old during the worst of the violence in the 1980s in Ayacucho.

In those days we slept in the mountains, we never stayed in our houses because we were scared of the Shining Path and the army.

If the Shining Path found you they would take you away to fight for them - to be a terrorist - and if the soldiers got you they would kill you, even if you were a teenager. So you just hid.

I came to Lima at that age because they killed my brother who was on his way to start university. They also killed my brother-in-law who looked after us.

The time when Fujimori governed, it was extremely hard to bring stability. I don't think that any president we have now could have achieved what he did

I remember how the soldiers intimidated us and threatened to kill us in the 1980s. When I returned in 1994, when Mr Fujimori was president, the soldiers just asked for your ID. Things had got better.

Where I come from in Ayacucho, it now has a road, water and electricity. The people realised that was thanks to Fujimori - he turned failure into a success.

That is why here in Manchay, the people support him. We all had to leave Ayacucho, we suffered so much and he helped us create this place, our new home, it was a great relief, not just for me, but for everyone.

So this issue with the massacres in Barrios Altos and La Cantuta that they've charged Mr Fujimori with, in contrast with Ayacucho there were massacres every day, every day!

And in so many cases we didn't know who had done it and the bodies disappeared. You couldn't say anything for fear of being killed even if you found bodies while walking somewhere.

'Opened doors'

So while they are talking so much about human rights abuses in this trial, what about all those who were killed in Ayacucho whose bodies have never been found, like my brother's?

Supporters of former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori protest at a rally demanding his freedom in Lima, 25 March
Supporters credit him with putting the economy back on track and defeating the Shining Path

The time when Fujimori governed, it was extremely hard to bring stability. I don't think that any president we have now could have achieved what he did.

The Shining Path were so strong - a force to be reckoned with - but he had an impressive ability to counter the terrorists.

I don't know what Fujimori did exactly but he achieved stability and peace for the country.

Fujimori worked with the poorest people, solving their problems, helping the young people study, to get a career and get work.

Fujimori opened the doors to the outside world so we could get foreign investment, and cheap second-hand cars from abroad.

Thanks to him working people like us could actually buy a car and earn a better living.

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