Biographical Information About Alberto Fujimori
Inaugurated on July 28, 1990, Alberto Fujimori took the helm of a nation in crisis. Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) guerrillas controlled over half the national territory; GDP had declined 22%, and personal income had eroded 63% in the previous two years; over 70% of Peruvians lived in abject poverty; inflation was 7,650%; and the nation was in default on its foreign loans. Fujimori made it clear that he had two goals: to eradicate Sendero Luminoso and to set the economy back on track. With no legislative base from which to accomplish these goals, but armed with sweeping emergency powers, Fujimori pushed through enormous amounts of legislation and economic reforms which initiated Peru's re-entry into the world economic community. Some of his anti-terrorist legislation alarmed Congress, which began to openly question Fujimori's commitment to due process.
On April 5, 1992, Fujimori dissolved the Congress and the judiciary, suspended the Constitution, and assumed dictatorial powers in what has come to be called an auto golpe (self-coup). The military backed this maneuver in return for a freer hand in combating terrorism and a blind eye towards their involvement in drug trafficking. The Peruvian people also supported the president, due to widespread contempt for allegedly corrupt politicians and judges. In response to a general outcry from the international community, Fujimori announced that a constituent assembly would be elected in November 1992, to rewrite the constitution. In the November elections, Fujimori's party won 45 of the 80 seats in the assembly, the best showing for any of the other 17 parties was 6 seats. The first act of the new assembly was to declare Fujimori a constitutional president. Despite the democratic trappings, Fujimori remains highly autocratic and delegates little, preferring to remain in control of almost all aspects of his administration.
Fujimori vowed to correct the economic situation without hurting the poor. Nevertheless, he was forced to impose austerity measures under IMF guidelines for renegotiation of the nation's foreign debt. Despite brutal ramifications of the "Fujishock" for the poor, the reforms turned Peru's economy around in extremely short order. Inflation fell dramatically, the economy became productive, the state initiated an aggressive privatization plan, and foreign investment nearly doubled after Fujimori's agreement to abide by IMF economic guidelines. In 1994, inflation was 350%, and GDP growth was 12%, the highest in the world. In 1995, inflation is expected to be 10%, and GDP growth should be 5 to 8%. The privatization that is occurring in Peru brings with it enormous costs; not the least of which is job losses in a nation already plagued by unsustainable levels of unemployment and underemployment, estimated at no less than 50%, but possibly as high as 90%. Somehow Fujimori must balance continued economic streamlining with job creation on an almost unprecedented scale. Tax collection, aggressively pursued from the beginning of Fujimori's presidency, has increased dramatically, and the proceeds have been used to finance desperately needed infrastructure improvements.