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Scott Mainwaring, general editor

The University of Notre Dame Press gratefully thanks the Hellen Kellogg Institute for International Studies for its support in the publication of titles in this series.

Juan E. Mendez, Guillermo O'Donnell, and Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, eds. The (Un)Rule of Law and the Underprivileged in Latin America (1999)

Guillermo O'Donnell

Counterpoints: Selected Essays on Authoritarianism and Democratization (1999)

Howard Handelman and Mark Tessler, eds.

Democracy and Its Limits: Lessons from Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East (1999)

Larissa Adler Lomnitz and Ana Melnick

Chile's Political Culture and Parties: An Anthropological Explanation (2000)

Kevin Healy

Llamas, Weavings, and Organic Chocolate: Multicultural Grassroots Development in the Andes and Amazon of Bolivia (2000)

Ernest]. Barten, c.s.c., and Alejandro O'Donnell

The Child in Latin America: Health, Development, and Rights (2000)

Vikram K Chand

Mexico's Political Awakening (2001)

Sylvia Borzutzky

Vital Connections (2002)

Ruth Berins Collier and David Collier Shaping the Political Arena (2002)

Glen Biglaiser

Guardians of the Nation? (2002)

Alberto Spektorowski

The Origins of Argentina 5 Revolution of the Right (2003)

Caroline C. Beer

Electoral Competition and Institutional Change in Mexico (2003)

Yemile Mizrahi

from Martyrdom to Power (2003)

For a complete list of titles from the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies, see




and the Breakdown of Democracy in Latin America



Copyright © 2004 by University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, Indiana 46556

All Rights Reserved

Manufactured in the United States of America

: [i


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-PubHcation Data Kenney, Charles (Charles Dennison)

Fujimori's coup and the breakdown of democracy in Latin America / Charles D. Kenney.

p. cm.

"From the Helen KeUogg Institute for International Studies:' Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 0-268-03171-1 (cloth: alk. paper)

ISBN 0-268-03172-X (pbk. : alk. paper)

1. Peru-Politics and government-1980- 2. Fujimori. Alberto.

3. Democracy-Peru. 4. Democracy-Latin America. 1. Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies. II. Title.

JL3481 .K38 2003



<>0 This book is printed on add-free paper.

For my parents,

Margaret and Paul,

with gratitude

218 -- F UJ I M 0 R I' S CO UP

immediate reelection of the president, because of both his plummeting popularity and the ambitions of intraparty rivals. Although Garcia controlled the other branches of government to a significant degree and was more constrained by "the hard facts of existing power arrangements" than by institutional checks and balances, it is also true that he failed to escape such checks and balances ennrely"

How does Fujimori's 1990-92 presidency compare with his predecessors'? Like Garcia, Fujimoris leadership style fits O'Donnell's image of a delegative president, earning him the appellation "emperor" long before the presidential coup. More than Garcia's, Fujimori's policies bore little "resemblance to the promises of his campaign," and he proved very adept at presenting himself "as above both political parties and organized interests" (O'Donnell 1994, P: 60). Fujimori also surrounded himself with ttcnicos (technical advisers), and more so under Fujimori than any recent democratic government, "the president and his most trusted advisors [were] the alpha and omega of politics" (p. 60} Finally, the decretismo (rule by presidential decrees) characteristic of delegative democracy (pp. 66-67) reached an extreme during Fujimori's first sixteen months. As explained in chapter 4, 58 percent of all the legislation promulgated during Belaundes presidency was issued directly from the executive. This figure grew to 66 percent under Garcia, and to 92 percent under Fujimori.

The lack of a strong party left Fujimori freer to pursue the policies and employ the personnel he wished than had been the case with Belaunde and Garcia (McClintock 1994b, P: 307). But Fujimori's lack of party support in Congress also left him potentially much more vulnerable to this institution than had been the case during the 1980s. In contrast to Garcia (and to a lesser extent Belaunde), Fujimori initially controlled neither the legislature, nor the judiciary, nor the other state institutions such as the TGC and the attorney general's office. Fujimori's initiatives fared well when they coincided with the preferences of a legislative majority but were often blocked when they did not (see chap. 5).

Fujimori was able to govern without a legislative majority during his

first year for two reasons. First, he kept the parties in Congress from blocking him by adopting economic policies he knew would receive the support of right-Wing legislators and by offering protection from impeachment for APRAs Garcia. Second, the president'S delegated and constitutional decree authority often allowed him to bypass Congress. Congress was frequently divided and was willing on several occasions to delegate legislative decree authority (Article 188) to FujimorL Fujimori also made intensive use of his

IN T E R PRE TAT ION S 0 F THE AUT 0 G 0 L P E -- 219

constitutional decree authority {Article 211.20} Congress was not so divided during Fujimori's first year in office, however, that it could not unite to block Fujimori on a number of issues-even gathering two-thirds majorities to self-convoke in early 1991.14

Fujimoris powers with respect to Congress and the other branches of government were sharply reduced after November 1991 (see chap. 6) Legislative majorities repealed many of the more important pacification and economic legislative decrees, placed unprecedented legislative controls on Fujimoris constitutional decree powers, and gave notice that they might be willing to depose Fujimori by declaring the presidency vacant due to moral incapacity" As the Tribunal of Constitutional Guarantees began to repeal some of the legislative decrees not blocked by Congress and the judiciary released convicted terrorists on parole and failed to find sufficient evidence to try Alan Garcia and Abimael Guzman, Fujimori's lack of control over these institutions became more apparent. From 1990 to 1992, then, Peru experienced a president with a delegative democracy style of leadership in a regime that did not meet the requirements for delegative democracy Fujimori's leadership style corresponded closely to that described by O'Donnell, but Peru's regime during this period developed too much in the way of horizontal accountability and checks and balances to be considered a delegative democracy, especially after November 1991.16

Polyarchy or Partyarchy?

After announcing the suspension of the constitution on 5 April 1992, Fujimori (1992a, pp. 134-35) claimed that the "temporary and partial suspension of the existing legal order is not the negation of real democracy, but on the contrary, the starting point of the search for an authentic transformation that assures an effective and legitimate democracy." This, he said, was "not a coup d'etat" but merely a "change in direction?" The regime he displaced was not a democracy but a bribe-ocracy he argued in a speech before the Exporters' Association (ADEX) just days after the coup. Few commonly accepted definitions of democracy require it to be free of corruption, however, and these arguments were widely recognized as Simplistic post hoc justifications.

A more substantial argument was presented by Fujimori in a speech before the Organization of American States meeting of foreign ministers in the Bahamas on 18 May 1992. By that time, six weeks after the autogolpe, the effects of international disapproval of the presidential coup were being

220 -- F U JIM 0 R I' S C 0 U p

felt strongly enough to compel Fujimori to seek a compromise with the international community (see Hakim 1993). To this end, Fujimori's discourse sought both to justify the coup as necessary for the survival and growth of democracy in Peru and to present a credible calendar for elections and a return to constitutional rule.

Fujimori's central theme in this speech was that Peru's democracy had been so vitiated by the dominance of political parties-referred to as partidocracia (partyocracy or partyarchyl-> that only a radical reform carried out by means of the suspension of the constitution, Congress, and the judiciary could have hoped to save it. Thus, according to Fujimori (1992b, pp. 196-98), "what is at stake in Peru is not the existence of democracy, but the dictatorship of partidocracia[,j ... government supposedly of the people but in reality by parties and for parties .... This is why we acted on 5 April with our Sights set on Peru and on a truly representative democracy" Fujimori's denunciation of political parties had always won him popularity at home, and much of what he said in his speech to the OAS rang true to observers of Peruvian politics. What his rhetoric hid, however, was that many of his specific accusations against Peruvian political parties were empirically false.

The origins of this speech merit a brief comment. When it became dear to Fujimori that no loans or aid would be forthcoming unless he made important political concessions to the international community, he and Economy and Finance Minister Bolona sought to enlist the political acumen and international connections of Hernando de Soto in the effort to reconnect Peru with the international community. De Soto, who had resigned as Fujimori's adviser three months earlier, was reluctant but apparently became convinced that he was the alchemist who could tum Fujimori's antidemocratic coup into a pro democratic reorganization of Peruvian politics. In any case, de Soto eventually agreed to help and was instrumental in writing Pujimoris speech for the OAS foreign ministers meeting (interview with Edgardo Mosqueira, 14 June 1994; see also jara 1992). De Soto in tum sought the advice of Michael Coppedge, a political scientist who had dealt with the question of partidocracia in his dissertation on parties in venezuela."

What was surprising was that, to make his argument, de Soto simply translated whole paragraphs of Coppedge's manuscript and pasted them into Fujimori's speech (fig. 7.1). The problem with this method went beyond an occasional error in translation-such as when the "autonomous role" of legislatures becomes the rol automatico (automatic role) of the legislatures, or "expressions of preference" becomes expresiones de referenda (expressions of reference). Nor is the problem limited to the fallacious applica-

I N T E R PRE TAT ION S 0 F THE AUT 0 G 0 L P E -- 221

tion of the original text in certain important details-such as the assertion that voters can cast a vote only for a party and not for individual candidates, something that was true in Venezuela but had been empirically false in Peru since the introduction of preferential voting. The most important problem with the partidocracia argument is that, whatever its applicability to Venezuela, Peru was not a partidocraaa in 1992.19

In comparison with Venezuela's strong parties and highly institutionalized party system, Peru's parties were for the most part weak and its party system inchoate in 1992. In Mainwaring and Scully's 1995 work on party systems in Latin America, the Venezuelan party system merited an aggregate score of 10.5 (out of a possible 12) on their scale of institutionalization, while Peru scored 4.5, the lowest of the twelve countries studied (p. 17).20 We need look only to Fujimoris own election to see the lie in his claim that in 1992 political parties monopolized the electoral process. As chapter 4 showed, the last time political parties might have been said to dominate the electoral process was in the 1986 municipal elections. By the 1989 municipal elections, independent candidates accounted for 28 percent of the national total and 48 percent of the vote in Lima. Neither of the presidential runoff candidates in 1990 were party members, and by 1992 Peruvian political parties were weak and divided. It is true that Peru's parties were deficient in many ways, and it was this kernel of truth in Fujimori's accusations that gave a persuasive edge to his OAS speech. Despite Fujimori's rhetoric, however, and the many very real problems with Peruvian parties, Peru was clearly not a partidocracia in 1992. As chapters 5 and 6 showed, the weak and fragmented Peruvian parties simply did not have the capacity to exercise the partyarchic dictatorship denounced by Fujimori before the ~AS.

In conclusion, the available evidence indicates that when Fujimori took office on 28 July 1990, Peru was stili a democracy-a polyarchy-albeit a troubled one that showed signs of serious deterioration. What took place on 5 April 1992 was the breakdown of that democracy via autogolpe-a coup by the president, with the support of the Armed Forces, against the other branches and institutions of government. 21


Peru's democracy was not structurally condemned to failure in 1992, nor was it guaranteed to survive. Peru's national per capita income during the 1980s and early 1990s was in the U.S. $2,000-$3,000 range. According to

Figure 7.1 Coppedge's and Fujimori's Texts Compared

Coppedge's Original Text

in Venezuela, political parties monopolize the electoral process, dominate the legislative process, and penetrate politically relevant organizations to a degree that violates the spirit of democracy

Venezuela is probably the most extreme case of ... partyarchy If democracy is gov" ernment of the people, by the people, for the people, then partyarchy is government of the people, by the parties, for the parties.

2. Electoral laws limit citizen's choices in an election to a vote for a party, rather than for a candidate. The voters therefore decide only how strong the parties are relative

to each other; the parties decide who is actually elected.

3. Strong party discipline forces legislators to vote as a party bloc, and they take their cues from the leadership of the party outside the legislature. This deprives the legislature of an autonomous role in policy-making: it becomes a staging ground for party competition.

5. The information on which voters base their decisions is therefore highly politicized along party lines.

6. Even extreme partyarchies do not differ from polyarchies with respect to the remaining requirements for polyarchy: universal suffrage, freedom of expression, and the formal institutions, such as legislatures, "for making government policies depend on votes and other expressions of preference:' But because all the conditions are interconnected, the parties' interference with one condition distorts the meaning of the others. A partyarchy may qualify as a polyarchy in spite of these distomons, but only if the political parties do an exceptionally good job of mediating between government and society, for the parties do not allow other organizations to perform this role for them.

(Coppedge 1994, pp. 2, 19-20)

Fujimori's Speech to the OAS

... en el Peru, los partidos politicos monopolizan el proceso electoral, dominan el proceso legislative y penetran todas las organizaciones poltticamente relevantes a tal grado que violan el espiritu de 1a democracia.

El Peru es uno de los casos extremos de Ia partidocracia. Si la democracia es el gobiemo del pueblo, por el pueblo y para el pueblo, la partidocracia es el gobierno supuestamente del pueblo pero en realidad por los partidos y para los partidos

Las !eyes electorales limit an las posibilidades de eleccion a escoger un partido en lugar de un candida to. Los votantes deciden solamente cuan fuerte es un partido en relacion con los dernas, Son los hderes de los partidos quienes deciden quien es defimuvamente elegido,

La ferrea disciplina parridaria fuerza a los legisladores a obedecer las ordenes que reciben de los hderes ya votar en bloque .... Esto priva a las legislaturas de un rol automatico [sic! en la elaboracion de poltticas: la convierte en un escenario donde se miden fuerzas.

[Finalmenre.l la informacion de la que los electores basan sus decisiones esta altamente pohtizada y confonnada a esos mismos lineamientos.

En las partidocractas existe el sufragio universal' la libertad de expresion y las organizaciones formales, tales como legislaturas "para lograr que las politicas de gobierno dependan. de sus votos y otras expresiones de referenda [sic]:' Sin embargo, todas las condiciones estan interconectadas: la interferencia de los partidos en alguna de estas condiciones distorsions el significado de las otras. Hay que suponer que la calidad de la democracia depende de que tambien los partidos poltticos cumplan su rol de medlar entre el Estado y la sociedad, En el Peru no cumplen ese rol en absolute y no han permitido que existan canales de partictpacion independientes.

(Fujirnori 1992a, pp. 196-97)



the study by Przeworski et a1. (2000),38 percent of the country/year observations were democratic at this income level between 1950 and 1990. The annual rate of democratic breakdowns at this income was about 4.3 percent, which meant that the average "life expectancy" for such democracies was about 23 years (Przeworski, Alvarez, et al. 1996; Przeworski, Alvarez, et a1. 2000, table 2.3, p. 93). As chapter 1 reported, Przeworski and colleagues concluded that the "Fujimori autogo!pe" was one of a handful of cases of "dictatorships that should not have been warranted" based on the observation of per capita income data and other historical, cultural, and international factors (Przeworski, Alvarez, et al. 2000, p. 87). This is only the beginning of the story, however, since the authors also showed that for presidential regimes, democratic breakdown is independent of national per capita income (p. 132) and the effects of political violence are rather more difficult to calculate (p. 35).22

Did democracy break down in Peru because of the crises confronted in the early 1990s? This is the most commonsense view of what happened, but it is in some ways inaccurate and at best incomplete. Clearly, Peru was in crisis. But Peru had been in crisis for a very long time, with the most recent cycle beginning with the Velasco years in the early 1970s. Observing conditions in Peru in 1978 -79, it was difficult to imagine that things could get worse, but by the beginning of 1984 inflation had doubled, per capita income had collapsed, mass graves littered the highlands, and sabotaged power lines repeatedly plunged the capital into darkness (see chap. 2).

Democratic regimes offer the possibility of electoral renovation: if one administration does a poor job governing, the electorate can choose others to govern in the hope that they will do better. The inauguration of Garcia's government was accompanied by precisely this hope, and initially Garda's policies appeared to deal effectively with Peru's crises. These hopes were dashed as the crisis worsened: annual inflation doubled, quadrupled, and finally grew by forty-fold between 1986 and 1989, while national income fell almost twice as far as it had under Belaunde (see chap. 2). Things were no better on the national security front the number of those killed grew fourfold between 1987 and 1989, and the number of subversive attacks rose by more than a quarter. As the historian David Werlich wrote,

When Garcia assumed the presidency of Peru in July, 1985, some commentators glibly predicted success for his government simply because they believed that the nation's fortunes could not sink any lower; at worst, Peru would muddle through. They were wrong. President Fujimori has

322 -- NOT EST 0 P AGE S 2 1 6 - 1 9

9. A regime that does not qualify as a polyarchy cannot be a delegative democracy Since Peru ceased being a polyarchy on 5 April 1992, Fujimori cannot have launched a delegative democracy with his coup, as McClintock (1996, pp. 54-55,

73 - 74) affirms.

10. See Caretas, 9 October 1990, pp. 26-28, 88, for a discussion of Belaunde's

role in the selection of the party leadership. For descriptions of Belaunde's role in determining Popular Action's political alliances, see Daeschner 1993; Vargas Llosa


11. See chapter 2. On the Garda presidency, see Crabtree 1992; Graham 1992;

Mauceri 1996. On Peruvian presidents as messiahs, see McClintock 1994b. In an article about Peru, the Shining Path, and Alan Garcia, Raymond Bonner (1988, p. 58) dosed with this observation: "At the conclusion of his inaugural address two and a half years ago, Garcia recalled the Biblical story of Christ walking on the waters. Peter, who had been a doubter, followed, but when he heard the winds he became fearful and began to sink. He cried to Christ for help, and Christ replied, '0 ye of little faith, why did you doubt?' Garcia, who earlier in the address had laid out his vision of a new state, said that what he was seeking was 'a miracle of faith from all Peruvians: Faith, and perhaps even a messiah, may be what Peru needs these days:'

12. A president's relationship to the armed forces can fall under the categories of both "naked power relations" and institutional relations. Garda moved aggressively not only to control the legislature and the judiciary, but also attempted to control the police and Armed Forces. The National Police were purged immediately after Garcia took power, and Garcia exerted greater control over the Armed Forces than had Belaunde, firing some generals and imposing a Ministry of Defense. Despite these efforts, Garcia was not able to control the Armed Forces in the way that Fujimori and Montesinos could after 1990.

13. After the prison massacre of 19 June 1986, Garcia also had to endure the negative publicity resulting from a congressional investigation chaired by a highly respected United Left senator, Rolando Ames Cobian (1988). Garcia's control over a majority of the Ames Commission's members and a majority in both houses of Congress, however, led to his exoneration in the commission's majority report, such that the commission's minority report was more embarrassing than dangerous.

14. Examples during Fujimoris first year are the presidential pardons, the 1991 budget, the proposal for military tribunals for accused terrorists, the proposal to exempt military personnel from civilian courts, and the proposed law to democratize governmental decisions.

15. As explained in chapter 6, the declaration of vacancy required but a simple

majority vote in Congress and could be carried out any time Congress was in session.

16. The affirmation that "Peru between 1990 and April 1992 became a paradigmatic example of a 'delegative democracy" (Cameron 1997, p. 48) is sustained if we look only at the style of presidential leadership or only at the first year of Fujimort's presidency However, the absence of horizontal accountability required by O'Donnell's definition does not correspond to Peru after November 1991 and is problematic even before then, inasmuch as there appear to have existed state agencies that were "legally enabled and empowered, and factually willing and able" (O'Donnell 1998, p. 38) to exercise horizontal accountability

NOT EST 0 P AGE S 2 1 9 - 2 1 -- 323

17. Alex Emery, Associated Press, 7 April 1992. Despite Fujtmoris claims, the acts of 5 April 1992 fit standard definitions of a coup d'etat. Although many coups involve the removal of a president or prime minister from power, a coup d'etat is any "nonconstiturional change of govern me mal leadership carried out with the use or threatened use of violence" (Welch 1993, p. 204).

18. Coppedge's 1988 doctoral dissertation was published in 1994 by Stanford University Press as Strong Parties and Lame Ducks: Presidential Partyarchy and Factionalism in Venezuela. Coppedge had given de Soto both the dissertation and the drafts of some of the chapters of the book manuscript, along with proposals to reform a partyarchy that insisted on the importance of political parties and on the need for leaders to recognize the legitimacy of party opposition (interviews with Coppedge, 17 February 1995 and September 1995). Despite Coppedge's emphasis on the legitimate role of parties, the Fujimori speech into which his ideas were incorporated was decidedly antiparty. Although Coppedge (1994, p, 19) defines partyarchy as "the degree to which political parties interfere with the fulfillment of the requirements of polyarchy," polyarchy and partyarchy are not, in fact, contradictory Venezuela, Coppedge's paradigmatic case of partyarchy, also qualified with a perfect score on Coppedge and Reinickes (1991, p. 59) scale of polyarchy

19. De Soto ratified his opposition of partuuxracu: to democracy in a 1992 interview with Luis Jaime Cisneros. According to de Soto, "[Allrhough political power changes hands among the parties or the persons that govern those parties when they are elected, neither is this truly a democracy, but something else .... Everyone realizes that this is not democracy" (Debate, June-August 1992, p. 12). De Soto subsequently distanced himself somewhat from the application of the partidocracia thesis to Peru (Cordova 1993, p. 23), but his associate at the Instituto Libertad y Democracia, Edgardo Mosqueira, still appeared to embrace it in a 1995 publication (Mosqueira 1995). When de Soto's misuse of Coppedge's work was first publicized in late November 1996, de Soto initially put off a formal response. After the takeover of the Japanese ambassador's residency by the MRTA on 17 December 1996, the issue faded from public view: See Caretas, 21 November 1996, pp. 24-25; 5 December 1996. Mosqueira later became Fujimoris minister of the presidency

20. As explained in chapter 3, Mainwaring and Scully's aggregate score of party system institutionalization includes measures of electoral volatility, the durability of social roots, legitimacy, and the strength of party organizations.

21. Loayza Galvan (1998, p. 89) claims that Montesinos was the real ruler and coup leader in 1992 and that Fujirnori was a mere figurehead, the legal face of Montesinoss regime. Rospigliosi (2000, p. 22) seems to take a similar view when discussing the origins of the 1992 coup: "It is not known exactly when Montesinos incorporated Fujimori in his coup plan, and how much he let him know: But it is very probable that when the new president moved into the Government Palace on 28 July 1992, he was already compromised by Montesinos in his antidemocratic project:' In Rospigliosis view, it was Monresinos, the intelligence chief, who used the president as his tool, not the other way around: "In Latin America there have been many dictatorships in the last two centuries, But never has there been one in which the chief of the intelligence services controlled the [governing] power, and in which these services dominated the armed forces. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo had his Johnny

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