Fujimori Pardoned After Peru's President Survives Impeachment Vote
NOEL KING, HOST:
In Peru, former President Alberto Fujimori was supposed to spend 25 years in prison for human rights abuses. Instead, Fujimori was recently pardoned by Peru's current president because he's sick with a degenerative disease. After the pardon, Fujimori asked his countrymen for forgiveness, but many of them are not in a forgiving mood. The pardon has sparked protests throughout Peru. NPR's Carrie Kahn has the story.
CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Lying in a hospital bed with a heart monitor beeping in the background, Tuesday, Fujimori posted a short video to his Facebook page.
(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)
ALBERTO FUJIMORI: Muchas gracias Presidente Kuczynski...
KAHN: "Thank you so much President Kuczynski for this magnanimous gesture," he says. Fujimori, now 79, remains a divisive person in Peru despite being driven from office nearly two decades ago. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison for grave human rights violations and still had 14 years left to serve. His party, headed now by his children, dominates Congress. Fujimori said he knows he has disappointed many Peruvians.
(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)
FUJIMORI: A ellos le pido perdon...
KAHN: "To you all, I ask for forgiveness with all my heart," he says. Fujimori, suffering from tongue cancer, was rushed to a hospital over the weekend. President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski says the humanitarian pardon was necessary because of jail conditions and Fujimori's incurable disease. The president's pardon has sparked days of protest.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Aqui, alla, el medio se acabo.
KAHN: Demonstrators holding black-and-white photos of victims of Fujimori's human rights abuses shouted, dictatorship never again. President Kuczynski, who campaigned on an anti-Fujimori platform, has been accused of taking bribes from a Brazilian firm. Late last week, it looked like he would be impeached over the scandal. But in the end, it was Fujimori's son who led a faction of his family's party to vote against impeachment. Critics say the pardon on the heels of Kuczynski's impeachment save was payback.
JO-MARIE BURT: It's a cold, calculated, cynical, political move.
KAHN: Jo-Marie Burt, a political science professor at George Mason University, says the current crisis exposes the failures of Peru's weak democracy.
BURT: Politicians feel emboldened to, you know, betray everything they say they stand to, ultimately, little consequence.
KAHN: Human rights and victims groups vow to appeal the pardon. Carrie Kahn, NPR News.
(SOUNDBITE OF THE AMERICAN DOLLAR'S "LOST SYMPHONY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.