Ellen Terry’s superlative The Fall of Fujimori documents the political fortunes of Alberto Fujimoto, president of Peru from 1990 to 2000. It is a deft mosaic of news footage and interviews that calls into question, sometimes with dazzling wit, the film’s centerpiece: Perry’s interview with Fujimori in Japan, the nation of his ancestors, to which he fled once becoming a fugitive for his various crimes, including murder. The piecemeal presentation of Fujimori’s self-serving remarks becomes perfectly correlative to Fujimori’s lack of integrity. For Perry and other U.S. Americans, it is doubly chilling that Fujimori’s rationalizations sound eerily like George W. Bush’s for identical and similar anti-democratic activities.
Fujimori became an international celebrity for his “war on terrorism,” which transformed Peru, for a spell, into a police state in which the legislature was abolished and a wide police net captured innocents and honorable political opponents, as well as feisty rebels protesting Peru’s widespread backwardness and poverty. Death squads were routinely sent out, and people disappeared in the night.
On the other hand, Fujimori instituted genuine reforms, and stabilized and revived the Peruvian economy, bringing in foreign investment.
One can bemoan that Perry spends so little time sketching in the intricacies of Peruvian history and politics; but one then risks missing the movie Perry aimed at and brought in. Fujimori’s popularity, at home and abroad, performs a dance with his outrageous cruelty and demented “leadership,” which he is able in the present to cover over with smooth talk that shows continuing political adeptness-in-exile. How ironic that Fujimori’s fall was precipitated only by the exposure of a close associate’s corruption.
Fujimori lies and lies well enough to fool an offspring and countless Peruvians. But not his ex-wife!
“El Chino” hopes someday to return to power.
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