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Alan García

Alan García Pérez (born May 23, 1949 in Lima) was President of Peru from 1985 to 1990. The youthful and charasmatic García was elected on April 14, 1985 with 45% of the vote. It was the first time in its sixty-year history the leftist APRA party had come to power in Peru.

García's term in office was marked by bouts of hyperinflation, which profoundly destablized the Peruvian economy. In an attempt to bring stablility, García converted the foreign currency holdings to the Inti, Peruvian currency at the time, and he made an attempt to nationalize the banking and insurance industries. García incurred the wrath of the IMF and the financial community by unilaterally declaring a ceiling on debt repayment equal to 10% of GNP, thereby isolating Peru from the international financial world until García's sucessor, Alberto Fujimori, resolved the matter in the early 1990s.

The economic turbulence of the time acerbated social tensions in Peru and partly contributed to the rise of the violent rebel movement Shining Path. The García adminstration unsucessfully sought a military solution to the growing terrorism, committing human rights violations which are currently under investigation. These include the Accomarca massacre, where forty-seven campesinos where gunned to death by the Peruvian armed forces in August 1985, the Cayara massacre (May 1988) in which some thirty were killed and dozens disappeared, and the summary execution of more than two-hundred inmates during prison riots in Lurigancho, San Juan Bautista (El Frontón) and Santa Barbara in 1986. A recent official inquiry estimated a total of 1,600 "forced disappearances" took place during García's presidency.

García went into exile in France in 1992 after Fujimori's auto-coup with charges pending that he took millions of dollars in bribes. He denied the charges and Peru's Supreme Court ruled in 2001 that the statute of limitations had run out. He returned in 2001 to run for president again but lost to Alejandro Toledo.

Since the 2001 election, García, as leader of the APRA party, has led the opposition in the Peruvian Congress.

Despite the mixed record of his term in office, García remains a popular public figure in Peru, largely due to his superb oratorical skills. However, his critics claim the many poor decisions he took while in office created an environment conducive the rise of an authoritarian leader like Fujimori. Some suspect García and APRA cut a deal with Fujimori during the 1990 election, backing him in return for impunity, so as to prevent Mario Vargas Llosa and his FREDEMO party, then leading in the polls, from coming to power. During the campaign, FREDEMO had promised to investigate corruption in the García adminstration.

See also