July 12, 2007
A Supreme Court judge in Chile, Orlando Alvarez, ruled Wednesday that there are insufficient grounds to grant the Peruvian government's request to extradite ex-president Alberto Fujimori to Peru so that he can face human rights and corruption charges. This was a surprising rebuke to the special prosecutor in charge of this delicate case, Monica Maldonado, but the ruling may still be appealed. The Washington Post reports, "A University of Lima poll released Wednesday indicated that two-thirds of Peruvians 'do not sympathize' with Fujimori." Maria McFarland, who works for Human Rights Watch, complained that the judge ignored evidence implicating Fujimori in activities of the the "Colina Group," a death squad that played a key role in suppressing the terrorist insurgency that used to torment Peru. "Alvarez mistakenly asserts that there is no evidence directly linking Fujimori to the Barrios Altos and La Cantuta massacres in 1991 and 1992." Those killings left a stain on Fujimori's legacy that the near-miraculous economic recovery of the mid-1990s could never erase.
Peruvians are outraged by this ruling, of course. An editorial in today's El Comercio (of Lima) raised the possibility of a quid-pro-quo behind the ruling: "Precisely yesterday the Chamber of Deputies of Chile approved a [free trade agreement] with Japan." Given that Fujimori is contemplating a run for the senate in Japan (!) next month, this coincidence is indeed very intersting...
When a government is fighting for its very survival, and civilization itself is in peril, one can under some circumstances rationalize targetted brutality in the name of public order. But if so, leaders such as Augusto Pinochet or Francisco Franco should be obliged to face their accusers, so that there can be a public accounting for the harsh deeds. Otherwise, society will never heal, and people on opposite sides of the political fence will never be reconciled. Peru needs to convene another "Truth Commission," along the lines of South Africa and Argentina, to settle the agonizing fundamental question: Were the extreme measures really necessary? What's more, a cynic might question whether the government of Chile, which treated former dictator Pinochet with kid gloves as long as he lived, is in a position to sit in judgment on such matters.
This is one of the most appalling news items I've come across lately: The Democrat-led Congress has rejected a measure that would have extended broad free trade privileges to Colombia. This despite the fact that we have major interests in that country (above all, the threat of narcotics trade) and the fact that the current government, of Alvaro Uribe, is very friendly toward the United States and has been extraordinarily effective in suppressing the narcoterrorist movement of FARC. Unfortunately, some of Uribe's conservative allies are in cahoots with the right-wing militia organizations which are rather corrupt and brutal, though not nearly as bad as the leftist counterparts. For whatever reason, the U.S. government will be obliged to treat Colombia with the same manner as it treats Ecuador, whose young left-wing President Rafael Correa has proven to be a menacing hot-head. The decision by Congress is monumentally short-sighted and stupid. Publius Pundit pulls no punches in excoriating the contemptible weasels on Capitol Hill. (Link via Instapundit.)