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By Richard Petty Deegan
Former World Bank employee and presidential candidate for Peru Alejandro Toledo Manrique, who is rapidly losing support in Peru, is finishing a whirlwind round of conferences and meetings in New York and Washington (Toledo Manrique press release). On Wednesday, April 26 and Thursday, April 27, Toledo Manrique attended a hastily-arranged series of meetings which included representatives of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Brookings Institute, the Carter & Ford Foundations, the Council on Foreign Relations, & Morgan Stanley Goldman Sachs.
Toledo Manrique described these conversations as “extraordinarily pleasing and productive as well as agreeable”, stating that they were “held like an enormous symphony”(April 26 press conference-Toledo Manrique). In particular he indicated that his meeting with long-time friend Stanley Fischer, whom he had known at Stanford University and who now is the interim director of the International Fund, was particularly fruitful, as Fischer promised to grant loans for Peru’s agricultural, tourism and construction sectors if Toledo Manrique is elected. Toledo Manrique stated that Fischer agreed on the urgent “need to have the political will to attend to a long-postponed social agenda” (ibid.).
Toledo Manrique soon revealed the first part of the price to be paid
for this support. In a press conference in New York on Thursday,
Toledo Manrique indicated that his first priority as president would
be to completely change the judicial system and install new judges within
thirty days. An obvious consequence, according to Toledo Manrique
would be a revision of many closed cases, including necessarily
convicted left-wing terrorist Lori Berenson, an admitted organizer
for the MRTA. “Of course”, he continued, “We can’t base a policy
on only one case; there would be many such cases reviewed”. The Clinton
administration has long been seeking the release of left wing Shining Path
and MRTA terrorists, but has consistently been refused by President
Fujimore snubbed IMF and US Intervention
As the non-banking international business community became aware of the improvement in Peru, investment money flooded in for many projects in many sectors. Currently Peru has the most stable economy in Latin America, tremendously reduced corruption (according to Transparence the most-improved country in Latin America on its “corruption index”) a secure environment and exploding tourism. Other Latin American countries are flocking to invest in Peru, which is emerging as a beacon in the Third World. To top it all, due to aggressive anti-drug measures Peru has fallen dramatically from its former position as the world’s leading producer of cocaine. Who could be upset?
Reduced in strength by the loss of leaders such as Ms. Berenson, MRTA gathered all their resources and successfully attacked the Japanese embassy in Lima on December 18, 1997. While the MRTA held many hostages, among the first to be released in a Christmas gesture was Alejandro Toledo Manrique.
The following excerpt is from a dispatch filed December 23, 1997 by Ed McCulloch of the Associated Press, and published in the New Standard:
“Alejandro Toledo, a hostage who was freed earlier, said he spoke
Saturday with Japanese Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda and with Mr. Fujimori’s
designated troubleshooter, Domingo Palermo, the education minister. All
agree a peaceful settlement was the only way to rescue the hostages, he
said. Mr. Toledo, an economist and minor presidential candidate in the
1995 elections who says the other hostages designated him to represent
them, also spoke with Mr. Cerpa.
What the Tupac Amaru group really wants, Mr. Toledo said, is a Guatemala-style
amnesty that would allow its members to participate in public life, as
has happened in various Latin America countries including Argentina, Uruguay,
Colombia and Venezuela.
An attempt to rescue hostages by force would be 'insane,' Mr. Toledo said, because rebels were 'armed to the teeth.' Rooms in the two-story building are mined, he claimed, as is the roof. He said the rebels had anti-tank guns and wore backpacks filled with explosives that could be set off by pulling a cord on their chests.” (AP)
Despite Toledo Manrique’s expectations, no settlement was possible with these terrorists. They remained intransigent in their demand that all MRTA members in prison be released. As international attention focused on this scenario, the US President continuously offered the services of the US Delta Force to mount a mission to release the hostages. Fujimori was consistent in his refusal to allow armed US troops to “assist” in this matter. Eventually an all-Peruvian SWAT team attacked the premises and released the hostages, practically all unharmed. The anti-tank weapons cited by Toledo Manrique were never found. Nor could any of the hostages recall having made Toledo Manrique their spokesman.
With the effective elimination of MRTA, the cause of releasing terrorists from Peruvian prisons received a new champion. On several occasions US President Clinton spoke out for their release, particularly for Berenson. All such demands were rejected by Fujimori.
Finally late in 1999, shortly after releasing convicted Puerto Rican terrorists (to assist his wife’s campaign in NY- NY Post) President Clinton made a strong demand for release of the MRTA and Shining Path terrorists. When this demand also was summarily rejected by Peru’s Fujimori, there was a sudden change in US Ambassadors to Peru. Ambassador Dennis Jett (like most US ambassadors a State Department outsider) was replaced by a career State employee, John Hamilton. Relations with Fujimori were sharply curtailed.
Toledo Manrique filed in the waning hours of the deadline to run for president (along with nine other candidates who had been campaigning for months), and the Peruvian group Transparencia received an unprecedented donation of at least $750,000 from the US government to assist in and monitor the elections. Although this group was to be supposedly impartial, photos in various papers, including Expreso (expreso.com.pe) of April 11, showed this group celebrating what they thought was a Toledo Manrique victory.
Who is Toledo Manrique?
While touring Europe in the mid-80’s he married Elaine Karp, who later worked for several years for the United States Agency for International Development. She divorced him in 1992 in Washington DC after tiring of his escapades with other women.
Toledo Manrique, during his Harvard days, “invested” some of his millions in a Peruvian Ponzi scheme CRAE, run by one Ricardo Manrique (Toledo claims no relation- Manrique is as common a name in Peru as, say, Eisenhower or Kissinger is in the US). Toledo Manrique and his brother received the return of their investment, some $4,000,000, days before the collapse of CRAE. When CRAE collapsed, there was little left to pay its depositors.
Unlike 1995, when Toledo Manrique ran for president this time, he had plenty of campaign money and was able to place large billboards and posters all over Peru. Although he only started his campaign in January 2000 (Lima mayor Andrade had been running since November 1998 and Casteñeda Lossio since May 1999), he was able to place fourth in initial polling; due to his long absence from Peru and life-long disinvolvement with the country’s affairs, nobody knew who he was or what he wanted, but he was new and different.
As more questions were raised regarding the circumstances of the disappearance of millions of dollars from the Fisherman’s Saving Bank under Casteñeda’s custodianship, and Andrade suffered from a total lack of ideas (despite much TV and press exposure), Toledo Manrique began to rise in the polls, although Fujimori, even when not campaigning, never fell below 40%.
More and more international NGOs became involved in the Peruvian elections, to make sure that a proper result was achieved. In the final two weeks of the campaign (Fujimori started his campaign 22 days before the April 9 election), the polls consistently showed Fujimori at around 48% with Toledo Manrique between 36-39%. With the involvement of the international NGOs came coverage from the New York Times, followed by CNN and others, all touting the shoeshine boy as a giant-killer. While given extensive coverage to Toledo Manrique, they consistently decried the lack of coverage. This despite the fact that the two largest circulation newspapers in Peru, El Comercio and LaRepublica went overboard in their support for Toledo Manrique. El Comercio even broke a story from 'confidential sources' on massive "voter registration and petition fraud" (a trumped up story still believed to have occured by some media and international groups).
The "sources" turned out to be a multiple convicted drug dealer and his girl friend, who were soon flown to the US by El Comercio and given $5,000. The same reporter the year before had broken a story (later proven completely unfounded) that the Winter brothers, owners of Frecuencia Latin, were being investigated by the DEA for drug trafficking.
The election results were consistent with normally conducted polls, with Fujimori missing reelection by .16%. Unlike the US, where the current president was elected with about 43% of the vote, Peru requires 50% + 1.
It seems that Toledo Manrique is convinced of his eventual rejection by the Peruvian people as they learn more about him, his background and his economic ideas. For this reason, he has spent most of his time lately visiting the US, including Easter week when he is reported to have spent some time with the family of convicted MRTA terrorist Lori Berenson (Miami Herald).
It is a disgrace that an independent country like Peru, which has made great strides against drugs and has fostered human rights, should be severely threatened by the Clinton Administration (Resolution #43 signed by Clinton on April 25) for wanting to have the president of their choice at a time when Clinton is doing all he can to grant favors to a country like China, with democratic ideals from the Stone Age. Too bad Fujimori didn’t contribute to the 1996 US campaign.
Nobody wants Fujimori it seems... but the Peruvians