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APU Person of the Year --
Alberto Fujimori

 

SACRAMENTO -- The phrase 'it ain't over till the fat lady sings' aptly applies to the 2005 APU Person of the Year. Alberto Fujimori has shown remarkable comeback power in making a hazardous return to his home country of Peru.

Born in 1938, the son of Japanese immigrants he became president of that country in 1990 as an unheralded newcomer. Fujimori faced a multitude of problems upon taking office including the Maoist Shining Path insurgency.

After suspending congress in 1992, he became increasingly criticized for his autocratic style of rule. In 1994, his estranged wife Susana Higuchi unsuccessfully challenged his reelection bid. They were divorced in 1995.

After charges of fraud in the 2000 election, Fujimori promised new elections but instead resigned in November while in Japan. He sought refuge there and was recognized by the government as a Japanese citizen. The Peruvian Congress charged him with dereliction of duty and involvement in 25 murders, and he was banned from running for office until 2010.

Despite the problems, Fujimori has consistently scored high in Peruvian public opinion polls.

In November of 2004, Fujimori was detained in Chile in an effort to return to Peru and contest the 2006 presidential poll.

A national election commission issued a statement that a purged official should not be allowed to run in a presidential election, although no official ruling has made barring Fujimori.

In a bid to assure Fujimori makes the April polls, this political party Si Cumple appears ready to nominate him as their vice presidential candidate.

Recent reports also suggest that his daughter Keiko Fujimori, 30, will become the leader of a coalition of pro-Fujimori parties at least until next year's elections.

According to his lawyer, Gabriel Zaliasnik, Fujimori will likely be granted bail from his detention at the military police academy in Santiago. He would be free to move around within the country but not to leave and would be required to report once a month to Chile's Supreme Court. It is unlikely that he will be allowed to leave the country in time to campaign before the April election.

History will likely judge Fujimori's relative guilt or innocence. However, there's no denying that he possesses a peculiar charisma that has allowed him to maintain a large following in a country with only a tiny Japanese and Asian minority. From the beginning it seemed the odds were against this once-unknown economist, and one has to wonder what possessed him to leave relative security and comfort in Japan to face new hardships and possible imprisonment in Peru.

In undertaking the seemingly impossible task of again becoming the leader of Peru, Alberto Fujimori has earned the title of this year's Person of the Year.