Cablegate: Plotting Another Come-Back: Does Former President

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LIMA 003447


E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/08/2015

Classified By: D/P...

id: 38338
date: 8/10/2005 17:23
refid: 05LIMA3447
origin: Embassy Lima
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

----------------- header ends ----------------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LIMA 003447


E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/08/2015

Classified By: D/Polcouns Art Muirhead for Reason 1.4 (B, D)

1. (C) SUMMARY. Former President Alberto Fujimori has done a
masterful job maintaining his standing as a major political
force in Peru, despite the fact that he remains exiled in
Japan, is prohibited from holding public office here, and is
the subject of extradition requests by the GOP. His
supporters' claim that Fujimori will return to Lima in
December to kick off his campaign for the 2006 elections is
receiving a great deal of media attention, but has not
heightened political tensions. Fujimori faces arrest
warrants in some 22 criminal cases; we deem it highly
unlikely that he will return to Peru until he is assured that
he can avoid imprisonment. His strategy probably is to
create a sense of expectation and uncertainty about his
return as a way of drawing attention to himself and more
votes for his front parties. If, as is likely, his forces
win 10 percent or so of the seats in the next Congress,
Fujimori will be well positioned to trade his political
support to the post-Toledo government for an arrangement that
keeps him out of jail. (The next Congress is almost certain
to be much more factionalized than the present one, obliging
the incoming President to strike a lot of deals for support.)
Though the President,s intimates here have suggested he
might be able swing a deal with the courts by the end of this
year to avoid imprisonment while charges against him are
tried, any court order to that effect would be unlikely to
hold up under the Toledo government,s counterattack. That
said, Fujimori mastered Peruvian politics for 10 years by
catching everyone else completely off guard. His return
would throw the political scene into confusion and shake the
foundations of Peru,s institutionally-weak democracy. END

2. (C) Congresswoman Martha Moyano of the Si Cumple Party,
the new name for Fujimori's main political party (loosely
translates as "He Keeps His Promises"), called on Polcouns
and Deputy on 8/5 to probe USG attitudes towards efforts to
effect Fujimori's return and his 2006 presidential bid.
Moyano said that Fujimori's attorneys are concentrating on
challenging the criminal charges against him (particularly
the La Cantuta and Barrios Altos cases involving
extra-judicial killings of suspected terrorists), and are
attempting to have the arrest orders against him changed to
summonses, indicating that once there are no arrest orders
outstanding he will return. Moyano added that Fujimori
intends to run for President despite the Congressional ban in
effect through 2011 against his serving, insisting that the
ban would only prevent him from taking office, not from being
elected. (COMMENT: The Constitutional Tribunal has declared
that Fujimori cannot be a candidate, but the final word seems
to lie with the independent National Electoral Board (JNE),
which has yet to issue a definitive pronouncement. END
COMMENT.) She implied that if Fujimori is elected, a
political means will be found to get around the ban. Moyano
claimed that Fujimori enjoys 68% support in the Peru's jungle
region, and overwhelming support elsewhere in the interior
and in the poorer areas of Lima. Although she demurred on
endorsing the December return date proclaimed by Si Cumple
Secretary General Luis Delgado, she emphasized that Fujimori

would be back before the elections.

3. (C) D/Polcouns recently discussed Fujimori's intentions
with Fernan Altuve, a former Congressman of the Cambio 90
Party (Fujimori's first electoral coalition). Altuve, a
Constitutional lawyer, said that he was in frequent contact
with the ex-President. He said Fujimori would head the
presidential ticket of his new party, and that Si Cumple
would field a full slate of Congressional candidates as well,
claiming that the party had the best grass-roots organization
of any political grouping in Peru. He endorsed the same
hypothesis as Moyano on Fujimori's legal status as a
candidate: he was banned from taking office, but not from
running. Altuve contended that once Si Cumple's Vice
Presidential candidate had taken office, the party's
Congressmen (with the support of other parties looking to
their own future interests) would easily overcome the ban on
Fujimori taking office. Altuve also claimed that a new Si
Cumple administration would be the best ally imaginable for
the USG, taking a hard line against drug trafficking, and
opposing the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

4. (C) Assistant Anti-Corruption Prosecutor Walter Hoflich
told Poloff in July that his office has no specific
contingency plans for Fujimori's arrival, other than to
proceed with pressing the charges already pending against the
former President. Should Fujimori arrive, Hoflich was sure
that he would be arrested by the National Police. He
doubted, however, that Fujimori would ever return until
charges against him are dropped. The fact that Fujimori
maintained several different identity documents indicated his
nervousness about being detained by Interpol. Hoflich
believed that Fujimori's strategy was to keep in the
spotlight by talking about returning, and then hope that a
pro-Fujimori bloc in the next Congress would clear the path
for him legally.

5. (C) Polcouns raised Fujimori's possible return with
Presidency Political Advisor Juan de la Puente and Labor
Minister Juan Sheput in separate meetings on 8/8. De la
Puente thought it unlikely that Fujimori would return, though
he did expect the former President to be nominated to head Si
Cumple's ticket, as well as those of the other two
pro-Fujimori parties, Cambio 90 and Nueva Mayoria. He
predicted that the JNE would disqualify Fujimori, and that
the Vice Presidential candidate on the list, who he thought
would be Fujimori's brother Santiago, would replace him.
While Fujimori's supporters would seek to portray his
disqualification as a political move designed to frustrate
the electorate's will, de la Puente thought that this would
not have much resonance and that the Fujimoristas will wind
up with a dozen-or-so seats in the next Congress.

6. (C) Sheput was not so sanguine. He expressed concern
that Fujimori's attorneys could make headway in their legal
challenges to the criminal charges against the former
President, noting that rampant judicial corruption makes
anything possible. He was also worried that the JNE could be
subject to political pressure from the Fujimoristas, given
that the latter are expected to gain a strong foothold in the
next Congress.

7. (C) COMMENT: Toledo Administration contacts have told us
repeatedly that they want to put Fujimori on trial (although
their pursuit of the extradition case has been
lackadaisical), and that they will arrest him if he sets foot
in Peru. Fujimori is aware that he would face jail if he
comes back voluntarily before the April elections; even
though he is endeavoring to cast himself as a victim of
persecution, none of our contacts believe he is interested in
buffing his credentials by being imprisoned. It is also
telling that despite all the trial balloons that have been
floated about Fujimori's return, his surrogates here have
been unable to energize mass public support like he enjoyed
in the past -- even with some semi-clad female dancers as a
draw, a recent Si Cumple rally only drew a couple of thousand
people. Our assessment is that Fujimori is taking a prudent
approach -- trying to rebuild his political base, painting
himself as a martyr, and allowing the criminal charges
against him to wither with the passage of time. The formula
of a patient exile while keeping a hand in the game worked
for Alan Garcia -- in the late 90s; few predicted his return
as a viable presidential candidate in 2001. Alberto Fujimori
seems determined to make history repeat itself. END COMMENT.

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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