Two Years Since the Death of Peru
Imagine this ideological and nearly fictional character: A 35 - year-old with imposing 6.3 ft of height, elegant gestures, monstrously cult, endowed with intelligence and a privileged memory, agile and captivating verb, equipped with an innate and incomparable ability for oratory, a complete statesman. In addition to this, if that were not enough, the president-elect of a country, gathering more than 53% of the population.
This character was named Alan Garcia, the youngest president in the history of Latin America, who led Peru into its deepest economic and social failure, fled to exile, returned, hypnotized the masses one more time and managed to get re-elected president decades later, forging by many, the best government in the country's history.
I speak of this character using the past tense because on April 17, 2019, at 69, while holding a Colt 38 revolver in his right hand and a crucifix in his left, committed suicide, shooting himself in the head while members of the Prosecutor's Office and agents of the Peruvian Police waited to capture him. This was the end of one of the most exciting and tragic stories in the continent’s history.
He was born in Lima, Peru on May 23, 1949, in a middle-class family. He was raised by his maternal grandmother Celia Rojas, and by his mother Nytha Pérez, founder of the APRA´s political party in the Province of Camana, in Arequipa, Peru. He met his father, the political prisoner Carlos Garcia Ronceros when he was 5, while he was leaving prison after spending long years persecuted by the military dictatorship of Manuel Odria. Being raised in political environment, Alan Garcia joined the youth of the aforementioned Peruvian Aprista party, founded by perhaps the greatest statesman in the history of Latin America, Victor Raul Haya de la Torre, an intellectual with studies at the University of Oxford, friend of Einstein and Cesar Vallejo.
Victor Raul Haya de la Torre, a visionary, knew how to focus his political instincts on a young Alan Garcia, who then demonstrated unusual communication skills and a privileged intelligence. He was his mentor for many years and placed in Garcia the APRA hopes for the Presidency - this after several coups and failed attempts by the party to achieve power.
Thus, in 1985, the young and ambitious Alan Garcia Perez, in representation of the APRA and the legacy of the late Victor Raúl Haya de la Torre, who had died 6 years earlier in 1979. Obsessed with a place in history, Alan Garcia would embark on a series of extreme and populist measures that would lead to the most dire economic and social disaster that Peru had witnessed in its history. His government was a profound failure. In 1990 he left power in a ceremony marked by the insults and whistles of his opponents in parliament - the greatest humiliation of his life. The APRA had been branded for life, and Alan had let his late mentor down.
Years later, on April 5, 1992, Alberto Fujimori dissolved the parliament and carried out a coup d'état, being the capture of Alan Garcia one of the first measures. Emulating his mentor, Garcia fled through a safe conduit to Colombia, where he was a political refugee similarly to Haya de la Torre, decades ago. After that, he travelled to France where he lived for about a decade and established a relationship with prominent statesmen such as French President François Mitterrand.
Months after Fujimori had resigned to the presidency from Japan in 2001, Alan Garcia's hunger for glory, led him to return to Peru and aspire again for the presidency, conceivably toasting the grandesspeech in the history of the Peru, "I greet you all with emotion after 9 years, to you the Peruvian people who knew how to stand up against the dictatorship" Alan Garcia had once again hypnotized and captivated the masses, The APRA and Alan Garcia were not dead.
Despite finishing second in the 2001 elections, the statesman and his APRA were once again consolidating themselves as one of the main political forces in Peru. 5 years later, in 2006, he was sworn in as President of Peru, at the very same place he would be left humiliated and ashamed decades ago.
His second government was marked by an unprecedent economic management and poverty reduction. In addition, he embarked on one of the most ambitious infrastructure project in Peruvian history, with the massive construction of roads, hospitals and schools, hence forging by many analysts and economists, the best government in the history of Peru. Yet, in 2011 Garcia would leave power in a discreet military ceremony.
In 2016, after the exposition of the Odebrecht corruption scandal, the former President emerged as one of the politicians involved, accused of receiving 24 million dollars in bribes.
In November 2018, while he was living in Madrid, he returned to Peru for a routine tax summons. To his surprise, the prosecutions office requested that he be prevented from leaving the country. Alan Garcia was under the ropes.
After a failed political asylum attempt at the Uruguayan embassy on 17 April 2019, the statesman would receive a preliminary arrest warrant amid a confusing series of irregularities. At 6:31 am of that same day, Garcia, locked in his room, decided to end his life: "I have seen others parade handcuffed, saving their miserable existence, but Alan Garcia does not have to suffer these injustices and circuses,” as he expressed in his suicide letter.
Two years after his death, no conclusive evidence has been found about his guilt, no bank account, no equity imbalance, no credible witness.
Only the passage of time will give Alan Garcia his proper place in history, as that happens, we commemorate two years of the death of the man who impersonated Peru as any other, the mythological figure that would hardly be impersonated again.
Written by Nicolas Martinez
Nicolas Martinez is a columnist at DecipherGrey.