To say that it’s been a bad week for the Fujimori family would be putting it mildly. First Peru’s Supreme Court overturned a pardon for former president Alberto Fujimori, which will send him back to jail to complete a 25 year prison sentence for human rights violations.
Then, yesterday, Keiko Fujimori was handcuffed and arrested at the prosecutor’s office, on charges that she accepted USD $1 million in illicit funding from Odebrecht for her 2011 presidential campaign.
The Fujimori political dynasty has been the dominant force in Peruvian politics for decades. Alberto Fujimori cultivated an every man image that included lengthy trips to remote Andean villages where he would walk hundreds of miles through the mountains. This Japanese immigrant earned a special place in the hearts of millions of Peruvians. He brought the Marxist rebel group the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso), which had terrorized the country for decades, to its knees, and laid the foundations for an economic resurgence.
In the process he turned Peru into a haven of tyranny and corruption, epitomized by the Machiavellian and outlandish levels of malfeasance committed by his head of the National Intelligence Service Vladimiro Montesinos, whose crimes included bribery, corruption, abuse of power, drug trafficking, arms trafficking, and murder. Montesinos infamously arranged a deal to ship 10,000 assault rifles from Jordan to the FARC in Colombia. In 2006, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison on this charge.
Alberto Fujimori’s image was tarnished, but the Peruvian public largely gave his progeny a pass. Twice, Keiko Fujimori was just thousands of votes away from winning the presidency, narrowly losing to Ollanta Humala in 2011, and then again to Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in 2015. Coincidentally, both have been ensnared in Odebrecht’s omnipresent web: Humala was arrested in 2017 and is currently awaiting trial for corruption, while PPK resigned the presidency in disgrace earlier this year.
The big question for the Fujimori family is this: can Keiko now convince her militants that this is, in fact, political persecution as opposed to legitimate criminal prosecution? The Peruvian public may be out of patience at this point, as a recent poll finds Keiko with an abysmal 13% public support.
p. Keiko Sofía Fujimori Higuchi pic.twitter.com/AwSQPQiUmK
— Keiko Fujimori (@KeikoFujimori) October 10, 2018