Rift Between President, Congress Widens Over Anti-Subversive Efforts
Dec. 14, 1991
LIMA, Peru (AP) _ The confrontation between President Alberto Fujimori and Congress is getting louder and more acrimonious as they wrangle over how far he can go in keeping subversive forces from toppling Peru's 11-year-old democracy.
In the past few weeks, Fujimori has called legislators immature, suggested they not be permitted to run for re-election and even questioned if Congress had links to drug traffickers.
Congress responded by censuring one of Fujimori's Cabinet ministers, hinting that the president was risking impeachment, and threatening to restrict his power to govern by decree. At times, the dialogue got personal.
Leftist Sen. Carlos Malpica said during Senate debate: ''Fujimori is the son of Japanese peasants, educated by kicks and slaps. It's time we put on our pants and respond to him in the same manner.''
The Chamber of Deputies approved a bill this week reining in Fujimori's power to issue decrees and the Senate refused to promote three army leaders favored by the administration to become division commanders.
The confrontation began last month when lawmakers took exception to a series of presidential decrees which gave more power to the military and intelligence forces fighting subversive groups.
Congress angered Fujimori by rejecting decrees it said compromised individual rights.
Insurgency experts and many legislators believe the only way to fight subversion is to strengthen democratic institutions and broaden political support for democracy.
They say this is especially true if Peru is to overcome the Maoist-inspired Shining Path guerrillas, who would seek to portray themselves as the only alternative to a dictatorship.
The Shining Path took up arms in 1980 and seeks a peasant-worker state modeled on the ideology of Mao Tse-tung. More than 23,000 people have been killed in its campaign.
Fujimori came to office from outside the traditional power structure, and this was considered a great advantage in his 1990 electoral victory.
But now his independence and his close relations with the armed forces, dramatized in a rousing pro-military speech on an armed forces holiday last week, disturbs some political analysts.
The president's authoritarian personality has already earned him the nickname ''the Emperor,'' and the analysts expressed concern that he might be planning to install himself as a dictator backed by the military.
Fujimori shrugs off such talk.
''Even though it might be convenient if there were an emperor . .. that emperor won't be me because I'm very respectful of the constitution,'' he said in a recent speech to businessmen.
Several political commentators wrote this week that they fear Fujimori believes military support is the only legitimacy he needs to rule Peru.
Military rule is still a sensitive subject in Peru. In 1968, the leftist Gen. Juan Velasco overthrew a democratically elected government. Unsuccessful populist military governments ruled Peru from 1968 to 1980.