Alberto Fujimori returns to Peru
For the first time since he attended an overseas summit meeting in November 2000, Peru's former Fujimori has been returned to his native country on Friday. This was after a Chilean judge issued a final ruling that approved the extradition request by the government of Peru, which has charged him with human rights abuses and corruption. According to the BBC, the airplane carrying Fujimori landed at a military airbase (presumably Las Palmas, on the southeast edge of Lima), so as to avoid a scene in which hundreds of Fujimori's supporters were gathered to cheer him at the city's Jorge Chavez International Airport. That show of support would have been embarrassing for Alan Garcia's government.
Fujimori arrived in Chile in November 2005, hoping to gain entry into Peru and run as a candidate for the 2006 elections, but his aims were thwarted as Chilean authorities jailed him, at Peru's behest. Ironically, Alan Garcia was a fugitive from justice for a few months after the "auto-coup" of April 1992, when then-President Fujimori declared that the nation's Congress and courts were dissolved, assuming full emergency powers for several months. Now the tables are turned, and the question becomes, will the Peruvian court system judge the upcoming trial of Fujimori in a fair, impartial way, or will its procedural decisions and the final verdict be influenced by political pressure and the desire for revenge?
Fujimori clearly needs to answer for the heavy-handed way he governed Peru, and this is his big chance to make up for the disgraceful way he left office in 2000. If he shows sufficient grace and courage in this extremely difficult situation, there is a possibility that most Peruvians will forgive him for the excesses he committed. During the 1990s he was very popular in Peru, and it is hard to imagine how Peru might have achieved economic and political progress after the chaos of the late 1980s without an iron-fisted leader like Fujimori to reestablish order. Because success went to his head, however, he blew a historic opportunity to leave office in 2000 as one of the most successful presidents in Peruvian history. Instead, he ran for an improper third term, forcing the courts to validate his flagrant circumvention of the 1993 Constitution (which was his own doing), thereby alienating nearly everyone in Peru other than his hard-core supporters. Will Fujimori blow this precious second chance to (partially) redeem himself?
While in New York to attend the annual United Nations General Assembly opening, Panama president Martin Torrijos visited with Major League Baseball officials on Monday. He is trying to get MLB support to promote baseball in his country, which might include a baseball academy, Spring Training exhibition games, and being allowed to participate in the next World Baseball Classic. See MLB.com. Well, they certainly deserve it more than the Netherlands or South Africa, if you ask me. Panama's best-known baseball player was Rod Carew of the Minnesota Twins; see my Latin American Leagues page.