Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
Forum 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 
Wednesday, 31 May, 2000, 14:18 GMT 15:18 UK
Peru: Does the election have any credibility?

Alberto Fujimori has been elected president of Peru for a third consecutive term. This time, however, he ran unopposed because the only opposition candidate, Alejandro Toledo, had pulled out of the contest arguing that the election was rigged in favour of the president.

International election monitors agreed with Mr Toledo. The Organisation of American States withdrew its observers before the poll, saying that the process would not be free or fair. The US has condemned the process and cast doubt on Mr Fujimori's legitimacy.

But the president remains defiant. In an address to the nation shortly after the vote, he said the process had been "just, fair and transparent".

Has Mr Fujimori been legitimately elected? Should the population heed oppostion calls for civil disobedience? What should the international community do? Tell us what you think.


Your reaction



Ten years ago Peru was a chaotic, a broken country plagued by terrorism. Today it is a country with a future, though enormous problems still remain.

Edward Murphy, Thailand
Ten years ago Peru was a chaotic, a broken country plagued by terrorism. Today it is a country with a future, though enormous problems still remain. The question for the people of Peru was; who is the most suitable candidate to lead the country? Very few Peruvians I know are interested in the questions of "fairness". They just want to see their country continue to (however slowly) improve. Over 50% of the population voted for Fujimori so he is rightfully President. When did the United States, with its own corrupt political system where the candidate with the most money wins every time, earn the right to criticise other countries? Peru is not a colony any more.
Edward Murphy, Thailand

It is better to have an imperfect democracy than none at all. Considering the events in Pakistan and more recently Fiji nobody wants to see a military coup in Peru resulting in some tinpot general like Pinochet taking over.
C. Anand, Madras, India.

Fujimori has violated all forms of human rights ever since the beginning of his 'dictatorship'. If you look at the news of human rights violations from the beginning of the 90's, it's obvious that these violations have occurred.
Hugo Cabrera, Peru



Democracy cannot be judged only by a mere formalistic adherence to Law or the Constitution. The French and American Revolutions were illegal movements.

Cesario Alexandria, Brazil
Democracy cannot be judged only by a mere formalistic adherence to Law or the Constitution. The French and American Revolutions were illegal movements. With the '92 "self-coup", Fujimori could finally crack down on the bloody "Shining Path" and "Tupac Amaru" guerrillas and restore order to the country. His popularity sky-rocketed ever since and is still very high, as Sunday elections showed. The vanquished in that battle are trying to destabilise him now through the instrumentalisation of Toledo's candidacy.
Cesario Alexandria, Brazil

Now Mr Fujimori says the process has been "just, fair and transparent"...He promises he will amend the errors and develop democracy...Does he mean he has waited ten years to think about it?
Vittorio Pauna, USA



True democracy exists when the will of the people is respected and in the case of Peru one out of every two Peruvians is in favour of Mr. Fujimor

Rodrigo, USA
If the elections were in fact rigged... let me ask something, do you believe the polls taken by several polling companies were also rigged? Every single poll by every organisation showed Mr. Fujimori with an advantage over Mr. Toledo. The numbers don't lie. A true democracy exists when the will of the people is respected and in the case of Peru one out of every two Peruvians is in favour of Mr. Fujimori, the other one out of two is divided among a series of low budget circus clowns. After years of struggle Peru deserves better than what the opposition had to offer, that is why the people of Peru chose a man they know he can make good on his promises. Peru deserves Mr. Fujimori.
Rodrigo, USA

Last Sunday there were no elections in Peru. There was only one candidate, Fujimori, who used all his power to spread a message of hope. He said that things would improve.This is difficult to believe given that he had all the power and did not use it wisely. He changed the Constitution, the law and the people in charge. His ambition will ultimately destroy him. Unfortunately, the Peruvian people are also going to suffer from the international sanctions that other countries may impose on our impoverished land
Carlos Leon, Vancouver, Canada



All of us who know this country would love to see things change, but it will require massive outside involvement before it happens

Kirsty Palmer, Peru
With the results of the elections through showing that 50.8% of people who voted, voted for Fujimori, the debate is more or less at an end. The threatened civil unrest has not materialised, and life will continue much as before for the vast majority of people here. Mr. Fujimori is undoubtedly an unconstitutional and undemocratic leader, but Mr. Toledo was also at fault for withdrawing himself from the process. Peru will never progress until this kind of corruption is eliminated at all levels of government and the likelihood of that happening in the near future is, frankly, remote. All of us who know this country would love to see things change, but it will require massive outside involvement before it happens.
Kirsty Palmer, Peru

As an American, I see that the Constitution is one aspect of what holds the country together and keeps it strong. If a President is above the Constitution, then it has no value. He has changed the Constitution, and that is unacceptable, regardless of his popularity. It was a dogmatic tactic used to keep him in power for five more years. It should not be tolerated.
Lucas Warton, USA

This election is another bloody reminder of the cynical way dictators, especially in Latin America, use rigged votes to legitimise their repressive regimes. In the eighties, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala all used this tactic, and in the case of the latter two, they did it with full US support. Sadly, when it looks like there will be true change, as in the Guatemalan election of 1954 or the Haitian election of 1991, the US intercedes and that's it for democracy there. Maybe, in this case, the US will actually carry forth with its threat to strain relations with Peru. Though I doubt it.
Dave Hazzan, Canada



It is possible that Fujimori could win a clean election, but by opting for an unfair electoral process, he will return Peru to the not-too-distant era of the Peruvian dictator

Jack Crowe, USA
On Friday, May 26, I returned from Peru where I had visited a number of schools and social projects in poor neighbourhoods of Tacna, Arequipa and Cusco. The Fujimori government is using all the powers at its disposal to ensure re-election. For example, at one school assembly in a poor rural community, I watched government officials handing out four shiny new schoolbooks to each student. I wondered how long the books had been in storage so that they could be passed out four days before the election. I also spoke with thoughtful Peruvians who had been chosen to be election judges but who were declining to participate in the election because of the evident fraud. It is possible that Fujimori could win a clean election, but by opting for an unfair electoral process, he will return Peru to the not-too-distant era of the Peruvian dictator.
Jack Crowe, USA

This debate like so many debates about "democracy" in Latin America and much of the developing world remains a moot point. When will the international community acknowledge that democracy is so much more than just simply holding elections? It must be founded on a multitude of principles that include an independent and professional judiciary and a legal system based on equality. These foundations do not exist in Peru and require immediate attention.
Jay Johnson, Canada

Excuse me, but I thought that Peru was a sovereign independent nation state, so what the hell has its elections got to do with other countries? There are flaws in the electoral systems of the UK. The last "closed list" Euro elections in 1999 were undemocratic, as voters had to vote for an "all or nothing" list of candidates chosen by the political parties. However, I would object most strongly if Peruvian "monitors" interfered with British elections. It's time we concentrated on the problems in the UK and stopped sticking our noses into the affairs of other nations!
Steve Foley, England

Mr. Fujimori seems to be pretty confident about his support amongst Peruvians and he seems very much to care about the future of his country. Why, then, has he been so reluctant to postpone an election that is going to destroy his political credibility and, even worse, the very stability of Peru? This situation doesn't make sense, does it?
Efraín Parra, United Kingdom



Ten years ago we were not a country, now we are one of the best in the region

Miguel Arrunategui, Peru
You need to be here to notice what really happened. Surveys (not allowed to be published) indicate by far a big advantage in vote intention to Fujimori. Mr Toledo knows that and consequently there is no way for Mr. Toledo to win, hence the fact that Mr. Toledo is not going to accept any date for the runoff. Fortunately, more than 50% of the population love Fujimori and await the third stage to harvest what was sowed in preceding years. Remember that 10 years ago we were not a country, now we are one of the best in the region.
Miguel Arrunategui, Peru

If the international community do not support a tyrant regime, things will improve around the globe. Unfortunately there is not the political will to do that. This is why dictators such as Fujimori is openly challenging the basic principles of democracy.
Edgardo ALARCON LEON, Peru

Mr. Fujimori has not had any legitimacy ever since the fraud of the Constituents Congress (1992) aimed at reforming the Constitution. At that time, some international organisations gave their O.K. Big mistake. The harm was done then. How long it will take to restore the LAW, only God knows.
Nani Arredondo, United States of America



There is no meaning in results obtained this undemocratically

Ewan, Peru (British National)
These elections absolutely should not go ahead. The results will be meaningless as every observing body has said. The truth is no one knows, or will know, what the Peruvian people think because the elections are so tainted. There is no meaning in results obtained this undemocratically.
Ewan, Peru (British National)

Fujimori has violated all possible: from human rights to all that is valid and fair in a democratic system. Corruption has been a plague in these developing countries, where good-natured people must tolerate the dictating grip of this kind of individuals. Let's stop him
Robert Sutton, UK

We had almost 15 years of terrorism. More than 30,000 people died by this violence. Now things have changed. We do not have that kind of violence. Fujimori made the decision to destroy the terrorist groups. I am a journalist, and I work in the Ministry of agriculture of Perú; in 1990 I used to travel to the sierra of my country and I saw all the things that the Shining Path did: Murdered people, harvests wasted, destroyed properties. Now the situation is different, peace exists and there is the hope that the situation changes. That is the country that has changed thanks to president Fujimori.
Edgardo Jiménez, Perú



In spite of the many problems Peru currently faces, Fujimori is the best option for us

Maria Amato, Peru
Elections in Peru should go ahead as planned. In spite of the many problems Peru currently faces, Fujimori is the best option for us, Peruvians. Thus, the international community cannot ignore the will of 50 percent (maybe even more) of Peruvians who want him to be our President. Let us not forget that many of the problems (poverty, unemployment, and corruption among others) are not new in Peru. The difference, in my opinion, is that they are diminishing.
Maria Amato, Peru

Apart from Fidel Castro, Fujimori is the only head of a Latin American state to be classed as an enemy of the press by the International Press Association. There is no question that the vote in the 1st round of elections was rigged. I am very pessimistic as to the result of the 2nd round. Toledo has tried to boycott the elections as he cannot campaign effectively against a united pro-government tabloid press and biased TV. The problem is that Peruvian law obliges all eligible voters to vote. Failing to vote is punished by fines and reduction of rights (like denial of a passport). The boycott is therefore unlikely to be effective, thus helping Fujimori to legitimise his 2nd round victory.
Arturo John, Cambridge University, UK

You cannot have a democratic election without an opposition party or candidate; this is a simple fact which people cannot and must not ignore. The Peruvian people and more importantly the international community should boycott these elections and call for them to be postponed until a legitimate opposition party/candidate can be found.
Benjamin Mossop, Britain

Will Mr. Fujimori have any legitimacy if he is NOT elected unopposed? Mr. Fujimori has already lost his legitimacy. It is only natural for Mr. Fujimori to oppose international pressure to postpone the elections. Do you expect him to roll over and beg forgiveness? What should the international community do? Nothing, the Peruvian people well know how to handle this situation.
Neil Hastings, USA



Either Fujimori's regime complies or we Peruvians will have to take to the streets and fight for democracy and freedom

George Borges, Peru
"According to international standards, the Peruvian electoral process is far from being considered free and fair." Organization of American States, election monitor commission, Lima, May 25, 2000 What else do you need to make a stand against this dictatorship? Come on UK people and goverrnment! Either Fujimori's regime complies or we Peruvians will have to take the streets and fight for democracy and freedom. El miedo se acabo!
George Borges, Peru

The destiny of Peru only concerns Peruvians...And we, the majority of the population, elected Fujimori on April 9 and we will elect him again on May 28.
Luisa Rosales, Peru



The only hope now is that the Peruvian people will shake off their normal apathy and do something about it before it is too late

Samantha Dunne, Peru
Being a Brit in Peru it is actually quite interesting to witness all this scandal and corruption first hand. What is, and has been, going on here is so different from what we are accustomed to in our country.
The sheer scale of the problem in Peru is overwhelming, and not solely found within the political system. The very foundations of this country - its systems and organisations - are also rife with underhand practices.
How can this country progress when it continues to be a third-world poverty stricken place where $5-10 can get you out of almost any situation? In my opinion these elections should be postponed and monitored by external observers, but that will never happen while the country remains in the grips of its virtual dictator. The only hope now is that the Peruvian people will shake off their normal apathy and do something about it before it is too late.
Samantha Dunne, Peru

The elections do not have any legitimacy if Fujimori runs unopposed. In fact, Fujimori was not born in Peru and should not be allowed to be President. His own sister stated over 20 years ago that he was not born in Peru. Fujimori was born before his family arrived in Peru.
Mike, USA

If America acted, instead of criticising the UN, in Sierra Leone, the UN would be able to act in Peru.
Peter Crawford-Bolton, UK (in US)



It is frankly unacceptable that the hate of 30% of Peruvians against Fujimori who has captured the preferences of over 50% of Peruvians be used as an argument to postpone an election

Daniel Arevalo, Peru
Absolutely, elections in Peru should go ahead. It is frankly unacceptable that the hate of 30% of Peruvians against Fujimori who has captured the preferences of over 50% of Peruvians be used as an argument to postpone an election or to play the political game of Toledo. Shame on the OEA who are playing the game of Toledo.
Everyone should defend the democracy, and the decision of most Peruvians at this time is to have him as a President for the next five years. Allegations of fraud, technical difficulties, etc... are just electoral/political arguments to diminish the legality of upcoming elections.
Daniel Arevalo, Peru

Elections in South America have always seemed to be tainted. Why should this one be any different. So yes, let the election go ahead.
Steve Fricker, England



His political party is simply a populist vehicle with no existence beyond him, and his associates are notoriously corrupt

Robin Aynsley-Smith, United Kingdom
Fujimori has in essence not been possessed of any genuine democratic legitimacy since 1992. The current Peruvian congress is in essence a puppet organisation, the judiciary is stacked with Fujimori supporters, and the original constitutional monitoring body was shut down by Fujimori, following their resistance to his candidacy in these elections.
His political party is simply a populist vehicle with no existence beyond him, and his associates (although conceivably not the president himself) are notoriously corrupt. The man in essence rules alone with just a group of technocratic advisors, and is about as democratic as Yeltsin was in Russia.
This election is the final feather in his dictatorial hat. No legitimacy should be accorded to someone who controls the media, upon which most Peruvians rely for any political information due to the week party system and fractured nature of the country, and uses it to continually harass and slander his opponents. That observers stayed in Peru until this point is a miracle. While Fujimori did rescue Peru from Sendero and economic crisis, for democracy to survive at all "Chinochet" must go.
Robin Aynsley-Smith, United Kingdom

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

26 May 00 | Americas
Monitors pull out of Peru election


Links to other Talking Point stories