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Cablegate: Appointment of Fujimorista Roils Gop, Hurts Prime

VZCZCXYZ0002
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPE #1413/01 1062051
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 162051Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5077
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4548
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7292
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0299
RUEHGT/AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA 1004
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ APR QUITO 1146
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 1220
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS LIMA 001413

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR PE
SUBJECT: APPOINTMENT OF FUJIMORISTA ROILS GOP, HURTS PRIME
MINISTER


1. (SBU) Summary: The short-lived appointment of ex-Fujimori
Prime Minister Alberto Pandolfi to a government position has
embroiled the APRA Administration in a debilitating scandal.
Pandolfi faces criminal charges relating to Vladimiro
Montesinos corruption scandals and in 2003 was legally
prohibited from holding office for ten years. The Pandolfi
affair has raised questions about alleged connections between
the APRA Government and ex-President Fujimori's network and
appears to have engergized a divided opposition. It has also
revealed fissures and power plays among the top players
within APRA. Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo proved
effective in defending Pandolfi's appointment before Congress
April 12 as an honest mistake. Most observers expect del
Castillo will weather the storm but believe the opposition
will redirect its wrath at Housing Minister Hernan Garrido
Lecca, who is at the center of an unrelated press
manipulation scandal that broke several days ago. End
Summary.

Naming the Ineligible
---------------------
2. (U) The Garcia Administration named ex-Fujimori Prime
Minister Alberto Pandolfi to be Director of the Office of
Vulnerability Reduction in Case of an El Nino (PREVEN) on
April 1, at the recommendation of Vice President Luis
Giampietri. According to insiders, Pandolfi was working
informally in the position for several months before his
appointment was made official. On April 2 press reports
broke the story that Congress had voted in 2003 to bar
Pandolfi from holding public office for ten years for his
alleged involvement in a number of abuse of power and
corruption scandals in association with former Fujimori
Intelligence Director Vladimiro Montesinos. On April 3,
Pandolfi was removed from the position. One contact pointed
out that Pandolfi appears in a number of the infamous
Montesinos video tapes, which triggered the downfall of the
Fujimori government. He still faces at least two criminal
court cases.

Political Consequences
----------------------
3. (SBU) Pandolfi-gate has had a series of immediate
consequences. To the administration's harshest critics, it
has put a spotlight on what they see as a de facto Garcia
administration-Fujimorista alliance, with Vice President Luis
Giampietri accused of operating as the go-between. These
critics allege that the two groups have sought to sabotage
former President Fujimori's extradition from Chile and
generally to impede investigations into human rights abuses
in Peru's recent past. Some also believe that the APRA
Government, impressed with some of Fujimori's more effective
political techniques, sought to learn them by hiring the
acknowledged masters. Less cynical observers emphasize
Giampetri's lack of political judgement in appointing
Pandolfi strictly for his "technical" qualifications while
failing to consider the pivotal political dimension and the
way it was bound to play out in public.

4. (SBU) Potentially the most important result of the
appointment has been the apparent reuniting (for the time
being) of Humala's Nationalist Party (PNP) and the Union Por
el Peru (UPP) opposition. The two parties united under the
presidential candidacy of Ollanta Humala in 2006, but split
soon after the election and have been operating independently
and often at odds in Congress since that time. Now, these
opposition elements have been re-energized by the Pandolfi
Affair. Working parallel, the PNP and the UPP launched the
campaign to summon Prime Minister del Castillo to answer
written questions ("interpelacion") on the Pandolfi matter.
While they are cooperating on this issue, the PNP and UPP
remain separate, however.

5. (SBU) The Pandolfi affair has also revealed rifts and
intense political jockeying among the top dogs in the APRA.
Unidad Nacional Congressman Martin Perez told Poloff on 4/13
that "the strongest opposition to the Garcia administration
comes from APRA representatives in Congress." Perez noted
that Congressional President and APRA congresswoman Mercedes
Cabanillas appeared to treat del Castillo's "interpelacion"
as a foregone conclusion, openly suggesting that
congressional representatives keep their difficult questions
for later (when Del Castillo would have been compelled by
Congress to come instead of now when he had appeared
voluntarily). Other observers suggest that many APRA
insiders resent the high-profile role in the government of VP
Giampietri, a Johnny-come-lately to the party, and are
particularly riled when Giampietri's contacts make trouble
for the government at a time when President Garcia continues
to hold the line on patronage for APRA loyalists.

Del Castillo Addresses Congress
-------------------------------
6. (U) To preempt further damage, Del Castillo agreed
voluntarily to appear before Congress and answer any question
on the matter. On April 12, he spoke for several hours in a
session that featured some raucous exchanges. Del Castillo
stated that the decision to hire Pandolfi resulted from a
combination of human error and exhaustion. He also cited the
opinions of ten jurists who argued that the appointment was
neither an administrative nor a criminal act, but rather a
political error that was quickly corrected. Del Castillo
represented himself ably, while by some accounts both his
allies and his critics came off less well. According to news
reports, sparks flared when Vice President Giampietri and
Accion Popular leader Victor Andres Garcia Belaunde exchanged
insults. The contretemps reinforced the impression that Del
Castillo represented an island of serenity in a sea of loud
and chaotic voices.

Housing Minister to the Rescue
------------------------------
7. (SBU) Most observers expect del Castillo will weather the
storm, in part because the opposition will redirect its wrath
at Housing Minister Hernan Garrido Lecca, who suddenly finds
himself at the center of an unrelated press manipulation
scandal that broke several days ago. On April 9, television
journalist Cecilia Valenzuela reported that the Housing
Minister had been paying three pro-Fujimori tabloids for
favorable news coverage on himself and for attacks against
his predecessor in the Toledo government. Calls within
Congress to interpellate the Housing Minister are growing,
and many see attacking Lecca as politically effective but
less politically damaging than an attempt to censure or
remove Del Castillo.
STRUBLE

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