Peru Vice President Rallies Critics of Coup
LIMA, PERU — PERUVIAN President Alberto Fujimori faces new challenges this week to his civilian-military coup as his respected vice president unites the opposition, and Organization of American States delegates arrive to turn up the heat.
Mr. Fujimori has successfully sold his two-week-old dissolution of the Congress and reformation of the judiciary to most Peruvians. He accuses legislators of doing nothing for the troubled nation and judges of being corrupt to the core.
But that was before the return late Saturday of First Vice President Maximo San Roman, who was elected with Fujimori in 1990 on an outsider platform of honesty and integrity. Fujimori's attacks on Peru's old-boy network cannot be used against Mr. San Roman, analysts say.
"San Roman is a man from the provinces," says Roberto Ramirez del Villar, the president of the dissolved Chamber of Deputies. "And he has served as president while Fujimori was on foreign trips."
San Roman, who was out of the country when Fujimori announced the surprise autogolpe, or self-coup, delivered a brief message in the Quechua Indian dialect after his arrival in Lima. The dialect is spoken by about 8 million of Peru's 22 million people.
"Don't let the lies take you away," was his translation before resuming his talk with reporters in Spanish, the Sunday edition of the Lima newspaper La Republica reported.
The vice president's ties with the majority poor Indian population of this Andean nation and his reputation for honesty and ingenuity could wear away at Fujimori's popularity, analysts say.
Like Fujimori, San Roman had no political experience when he ran for office with the Cambio 90 movement and won a seat as senator, which he holds in addition to the first vice presidency. San Roman is an engineer who has invented machinery to make bread more efficiently.
Mr. Ramirez del Villar said the dissolved Congress will swear in the first vice president as the legitimate president of Peru.
The swearing in of San Roman is expected by today when the Organization of American States secretary-general and Uruguyan foreign minister begin meetings with the opposition and Fujimori, who they plan to pressure for a return to democracy.
The 34-nation OAS has deplored Fujimori's coup, the United States administration has frozen $300 million in economic aid, and development banks have turned a cold shoulder to Peru since the April 5 takeover. Peru's neighbors have cut off economic and political cooperation and Venezuela has suspended diplomatic relations.