Forwarded from Anthony (Peru)
lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Tue Oct 24 08:16:23 MDT 2000
The following article on Peru appears in today's NYT. A substantially
similar article appears in El Tiempo of Bogota. The differences between the
two articles: El Tiempo reports more details about Montesinos in Panama -
including alleged assasination threats by Sendero Luminoso (which still
exists in some form)- but not a word about the supposed connection between
Montesinos and the FARC (although it was big news in the past.)
Intelligence Chief Returns, Sending Peru Into Disarray
October 24, 2000
By CLIFFORD KRAUSS
LIMA, Peru, Oct. 23A month after fleeing, the former intelligence chief
returned here today, plunging the government of President Alberto K.
Fujimori into disarray.
First Vice President Francisco Tudela, a close ally of Mr. Fujimori,
resigned, saying of the intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, who fled
to escape allegations of corruption, "The game he is playing with the
country outrages me."
Downtown Lima was filled with tear gas as the police and protesters
clashed. Opposition leaders, fearing that Mr. Montesinos might be planning
a coup with the military high command, pledged to take to the streets.
In Washington, a spokesman for the White House, Jake Siewert, said, "Any
move to disrupt the constitutional order would lead to Peru's isolation."
It was not immediately clear whether Mr. Montesinos's return was the last
play of a high-stakes gambler or part of an army plot to force the
opposition to accept a sweeping amnesty for the security forces, covering
not only human rights violations, but perhaps also arms trafficking and
Over the last three days, the government has proposed an amnesty as part of
the Constitution, a step that would require 80 of the 120 votes in
Congress. Because the government has a paper-thin majority in the
legislature, it would need the opposition to go along.
The government is insisting that an amnesty has to be set before a date for
presidential elections can be scheduled. Senior military officials have
been pressing Mr. Fujimori for the amnesty.
Mr. Montesinos left Panama City, where he had been in exile, on Sunday
evening on a private jet with two Panamanian lawyers and a bodyguard for
Guayaquil, Ecuador. The former intelligence chief never left the Guayaquil
airport, where he reportedly bought food and cellular telephone cards. In
the predawn hours, his aircraft flew to Peru without an official flight plan.
Authorities at the Lima international airport refused to give Mr.
Montesinos permission to land, Peruvian officials said, and the plane
continued to Pisco, on the Pacific Coast, 160 miles south of Lima, where he
landed before dawn today at the airport on a strip controlled by the air
According to radio reports, Mr. Montesinos spent the day in a military
hanger in Pisco, where the air force keeps a fleet of combat jets and
military helicopters. By nightfall his whereabouts were not clear.
The response of government officials was one of surprise and confusion.
Second Vice President Ricardo Márquez called Mr. Montesinos's return
worrisome, adding, "If he is trying to pressure the country, it should not
Prime Minister Federico Salas said Mr. Montesinos had chosen to leave
Panama because he believed that he would not be granted asylum. "If he
comes to Lima," Mr. Salas said, "I presume he will go to his law office."
Mr. Fujimori remained silent. He spent much of the day in the presidential
palace, where he summoned his cabinet and the commanders of the navy, air
force and army for consultations. Late in the afternoon, he drove in a
motorcade with his interior and defense ministers to visit military and
intelligence installations around Lima.
Military analysts characterized Mr. Montesinos's landing here as a direct
challenge to the president's authority by the military. "If the president
doesn't take drastic action, we are on the cusp of a great crisis," Daniel
Mora, a retired army general, said. "He must show he is the commander in
United States diplomats said Mr. Fujimori and cabinet members spoke to Mr.
Montesinos last week, requesting that he not return.
"This was the last thing they wanted," said a senior Clinton administration
Mr. Montesinos, for 10 years Mr. Fujimori's closest adviser, was not
legally barred from returning.
Even as he sought asylum in Panama, Mr. Montesinos continued to pull
strings in Peru and even spoke regularly on the telephone with Mr.
Fujimori. The president, after a disputed re-election, stunned the nation
last month by saying he would step down in July.
The lead prosecutor, chosen by Mr. Montesinos, declared during his stay in
Panama that there would be no investigation or prosecution of the former
Opposition leaders called for Mr. Fujimori to step down, to be replaced by
a transitional government through the election of a new president. The
transition administration would include independents and a retired general,
Francisco Morales Bermúdez, the last military dictator who ushered in a
return to democracy in the late 70's.
Mr. Fujimori "has been pinned to the wall and can no longer govern," Mayor
Alberto Andrade of Lima said.
Mr. Montesinos has been a lightning rod of controversy since the
presidential campaign this year. He ran a dirty tricks campaign against
opposition candidates and directed the election apparatus that came under
heavy criticism from the Organization of American States for fraud.
A man with a taste for double- breasted suits and Bach, Mr. Montesinos was
long a close associate of the Central Intelligence Agency, according to
Peruvian and American officials. He directed an antinarcotics unit in the
National Intelligence Service with C.I.A. guidance and was a conduit for
United States intelligence and advice in antiterrorism efforts, the
His relationship to the United States dates from the 70's, when he was a
captain in the prime minister's office. He was cashiered and imprisoned by
the army in 1977, after he had been found handing documents to the United
States that detailed Russian arms sales to the left-wing military
government and traveling to Washington without permission.
The Clinton administration finally broke with Mr. Montesinos two months
ago, when evidence emerged that former and current military officials
allied with Mr. Montesinos had sold Russian rifles to the largest Marxist
guerrilla group in Colombia, United States officials said. Former Peruvian
intelligence officers have said Mr. Montesinos was involved in the
gun-running or knew about it but remained quiet.
Mr. Montesinos was finally forced to leave his position as unofficial head
of national intelligence last month, when a cable television station
displayed a tape that showed him handing over an envelope stuffed with cash
to a newly elected opposition member of Congress in return for a promise to
switch parties. The tape was apparently leaked to the station by navy
officers attached to the intelligence agency.
At first, Mr. Fujimori dismissed Mr. Montesinos. But members of the army
high command stood by the intelligence chief. With his powers dwindling,
Mr. Fujimori stunned the nation by announcing that he would leave office on
July 28, after new elections and four years before the end of his third term.
He also promised to disband the the intelligence unit run by Mr.
Montesinos, whose activities have been taken over by army intelligence.
Alejandro Toledo, an opposition leader who ran for president, said the
opposition would not go along with the proposal for amnesty for military
officers. "We cannot accept gangster extortion," Mr. Toledo said.
Santiago Pedraglio, a columnist for Gestión, a newspaper in Lima, called
Mr. Montesinos's return "an act of political desperation" and said him and
his allies in the military, "They can still cause great problems, but they
are strategically defeated."
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