This riveting book illuminates the extraordinary rise and fall of Peru's Alberto Fujimori and Vladimiro Montesinos. Conaghan probes a serious challenge facing not only Peru but many countries in the world today—elites' moral decay, abetting a corrupt government's capacity to maintain a veneer of legitimacy. Required reading for scholars, and will engage students and informed publics throughout the hemisphere.
Alberto Fujimori ascended to the presidency of Peru in 1990, boldly promising to remake the country. Ten years later, he hastily sent his resignation from exile in Japan, leaving behind a trail of lies, deceit, and corruption. While piecing together the shards of Fujimori’s presidency, prosecutors uncovered a vast criminal conspiracy fueled by political ambition and personal greed. The Fujimori regime managed to maintain a facade of democracy while systematically eviscerating democratic institutions and the rule of law through legal subterfuge, intimidation, and outright bribery. The architect of this strategy was Fujimori’s notorious intelligence advisor, Vladimiro Montesinos. With great skill, Fujimori and Montesinos created the appearance of a democratic public sphere but ensured it would work only to suit their personal motives. The press was allowed to operate, but information exchange was under strict control. The more government officials tampered with the free flow of ideas, the more they inadvertently exposed the ills they were trying to cover up. And that proved to be their downfall. Merging penetrating analysis and a journalist’s flair for narrative, Catherine Conaghan reveals the thin line between democracy and dictatorship, and shows how public institutions can both empower dictators and bring them down.
A fascinating account. Conaghan effectively demonstrates how the public sphere, through its domestic and international dimensions, can be used to buttress authoritarianism as well as to undermine it.
In sparkling prose, Conaghan exposes one of Latin America's corrupt authoritarian regimes hiding behind a thin veil of democracy. Her tale of government manipulation of public opinion and institutions holds lessons for many other countries, including our own.
Conaghan has provided the scholarly community with a classic, required reading for all supporters of democracy as a case study of the multiple ways a few determined individuals can manipulate the public sphere and use democratic institutions for the explicit purpose of undermining them.
An excellent book. A must-read for students of Peruvian politics and Latin American democracy.
Catherine M. Conaghan is professor of political science at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Her research has included fieldwork in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. She is the author of Fujimori’s Peru: Deception in the Public Sphere and Restructuring Domination: Industrialists and the State in Ecuador, and is the coauthor of Unsettling Statecraft: Democracy and Neoliberalism in the Central Andes. She has been a visiting scholar at Princeton University, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Miami, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the University of San Diego, the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, American University, and the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales-Ecuador. In 2013 she was appointed as the Sir Edward Peacock Professor of Latin American Politics.