Alberto Fujimori no longer has the face of a dying man.
During his ten years of imprisonment, sentenced for corruption and human rights violations, the images that the ex-president of Peru allowed to be leaked, portrayed him on hospital beds, emaciated or in a painful semi-conscience.
After his recent pardon “for humanitarian reasons”, on the other hand, the photograph of his renewed national identity document shows him a good face , attentive look and wearing a half smile.
Scarcely a month has passed since his release and the Fujimorist bloc that dominated the congress with 71 of the 130 seats, officially broke into two irreconcilable factions.
Ten legislators, including Kenji, Alberto’s youngest son and who most visibly fought for his pardon, resigned from the Popular Force party’s parliamentary group, led by his sister Keiko.
“I do not think Kenji has made such a drastic decision that it implies a family break without even mentioning the issue to the father,” said political analyst Juan Carlos Tafur.
“More than the son, the one who now has a bench often congressmen is Alberto “, That is the same perception of a good part of the Peruvian press that calls them “Albertist” congressmen.
Is the former president claiming his share of power in the movement led by his daughter?
The counselor of the “Avengers”
When he regained his freedom, Fujimori decided on another type of seclusion: a large house surrounded by gardens in an exclusive neighborhood of Lima.
He does not give interviews and the little that is known about him is what he publishes on social networks Kenji, who visits him frequently. But did Alberto advise Kenji to break with the sister and renounce the caucus?
“I think that should be answered by Kenji (…) but I must assume that there were talks,” congresswoman Maritza García admits to BBC Garcia is one of the “avengers” , as Kenji named his group of ten legislators who resigned from Fuerza Popular after being opened a disciplinary process for not voting in favor of the vacancy of President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
Collaborators close to Kenji assured BBC that the decision was not consulted with the father and that even he was surprised.
“However, within the style of Alberto’s politics, I believe that Kenji was in constant consultation with his father, ” says Steven Levitsky, a government professor at Harvard University and author of multiple books on the Fujimori regime (1990-2000).
“His support must have been absolutely necessary for the son to win the support of nine legislators,”
The same congresswoman García assures that nothing prevents Fujimori from becoming an advisor to the “avengers”.
So, if the former president is free and his influence is recognized, why does not he assume a visible role in politics today?
Brothers and rivals
“Very happy to welcome our father in this new stage of his life!” Keiko tweeted next to a photograph in which she and Kenji accompany the former president after the pardon.
Fujimori is in the middle. In the midst of the conflict between their children.
“The relationship of the brothers begins to sour when Keiko moves away from what had been until then the only goal of the party: to free the father,” says Eduardo Dargent, doctor of political science at the University of Texas and professor at the Catholic University of Texas. Peru.
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“For years Kenji only sought to get Alberto out of jail, while Keiko developed a Fujimorismo away from the father, “.
Analysts agree that the possible freedom of the patriarch was perceived by her daughter as a threat to her leadership.
In the last one, Kenji did not vote for her.
The conflict would escalate with the months until exploding when the “avengers” saved President Kuczynski from the vacancy that Keiko and his loyal congressmen promoted .
A few days later Kuczynski pardoned Fujimori, Kenji was subjected to a disciplinary process in Fuerza Popular and finally resigned his caucus.
On which side of the fujimorista board will the former president put his chips?
“I do not doubt that Don Alberto gives the support to his son” , explains congresswoman Maritza García, who resigned with Kenji.
“He is the son who fought for his freedom,” he says.
Representatives of the other faction of Fujimorism preferred not to talk about it.
In the shadow
If something does not suit Fujimori today is to be healthy and gain prominence.
“Mr. Fujimori suffers from a progressive, degenerative and incurable disease, ” according to the government statement in which he justified his release.
However, 63% of Peruvians, according to the IPSOS polling firm, believe that the pardon was a political arrangement and not a matter of medical necessity .
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights considered it illegitimate and has already requested its revocation.
“Alberto has to keep quiet and that in a way puts pressure on Kenji because he has to take over the baton,” says Paulo Drinot, a professor at the Institute of the Americas, University College London.
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“Although the congressmen who resigned respond to Alberto, the pardon prevents him from appearing openly, ”
In silence, however, you can still spin from the shadow.
“Even if you are an opponent of Alberto Fujimori, you can not deny him political intelligence ,” says Romeo Grompone, principal investigator of the Peruvian Studies Institute and professor at the Antonio Ruiz de Montoya Jesuit University.
“It is probable that he has negotiated the pardon to save Kuczynski from the vacancy, but at the same time he himself has been the one that has favored the vacancy request”, speculates Grompone.
“And in that sense, Keiko and Kenji could serve their father at the same time, ”
In any scenario, the immediate future after the “autogolpe” and division in Fujimori puts Fujimori in front of only one objective: not to return to prison.
And that is something difficult to guarantee with only ten members of Congress.
At 79 years old, few, if any, someone – if he himself – see Fujimori as a candidate for something.
“However, the former president’s word can have a huge weight in Fujimorism,” says Levitsky, “for example, if Alberto says that Kenji is his candidate in 2021, that can have a great influence.”
Kenji has denied several times that he is going to run for president, and that is why most believe he will. Denying it is a common lie among Peruvian politicians.
Also, what other goal can be drawn now that the father is free?
” From the perspective of charisma, Kenji has more than Keiko , but I do not know if it’s enough to make him a viable candidate,” says Drinot.
“She is the one who manages the party and has greater institutional capacity,” he says.
And it is true that, in spite of the irruption of the father in the political scene, Fuerza Popular is still under the control of Keiko. Maybe even more than before.
“The resignation of Kenji and his group has been for Keiko Fujimori like getting Alberto out of the game, ” observes Dargent.
But what if the break was just a strategy to get two Fujimori candidates to the presidential elections of 2021 and join forces in the final stretch?
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Divide and you will lose
“I have signs from both sides and the division is real, ” says analyst Juan Carlos Tafur, “what’s more, Kenji is closer to establishing pacts and alliances with other groups rather than with his sister.”
In a competition scenario, the sons of the former president could end up distributing the same votes that already proved to be insufficient in the past elections.
And although the Fujimoristas have a considerable number of captive voters, the antifujimoristas is even greater.
If they arrive divided, it opens the possibility that neither of them will go to the second round of elections.
And with that, perhaps the definitive decline of the dynasty will begin.
“I do not feel fear of death, but to leave pending to unite a little more to my children,” Fujimori wrote in a letter published a few weeks before the pardon.
It can be read as a father’s letter, but it is also the statement of a politician.