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Corruption as Power

Criminal Governance in Peru during the Fujimori Era (1990-2000)

Alfredo Schulte-Bockholt

This book deals with the political corruption which infested Peru during the Fujimori years (1990-2000). The work is not about petty corruption, the small bribe paid to the underpaid police officer to avoid being booked for a minor traffic violation, but addresses the corruption of the powerful. Elites rely on corruption, and particularly in repressive regimes the practice is the most important tool of ‘criminal governance’. The author utilizes the concept of the protection racket developed by Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno from the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory to explain the links between political, economic, and societal elites in Fujimori’s Peru such as the military, political parties, multinational corporations, or conservative groups within the Catholic Church.

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Chapter 4: Controlling Society: The SIN and the Military - 85

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Chapter 4 Controlling Society: The SIN and the Military The test for whether one is living in a police state is that those who are charged with enforcing the law are allowed to break the laws with impunity. (Jon Roland) 1. Introduction Peru’s armed forces have historically been involved in their country’s politics. Of the seventy-six presidents who governed Peru between in- dependence in 1821 and the 1968 revolution, fifty came from the mi- litary. This fact helps explain the historical weakness of political par- ties in that country (Philip, 1978; also see Cleaves and Pease García, 1983; Skidmore and Smith, 1984; Durand, 1997). Between 1992 and 2000 Peru was not officially run by a military government, never- theless the armed forces played a powerful role in society. As de- scribed by Kay (1996), the military was the political party that Fuji- mori lacked. Degregori (2001) observed similarly that “the intelli- gence services and the armed forces replaced” the need for a “govern- ment party” (2001: 78). Levitsky and Cameron (2003) noted that Fuji- mori’s reliance on the military establishment as opposed to a political party only added to his partiality “for illegal and covert campaign acti- vities” (2003: 21). Given the president’s inexperience “with the give and take of democratic politics ..., [he] opted for an authoritarian strategy for political survival ...” (Ibid, 7). Moreover, while Peru’s military was a relatively independent partner in the early years of the 86 government, it increasingly fell under the sway of Montesinos and...

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