April 23, 2008
Fifty-second session. Former president of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces (CCFFAA, for its initials in Spanish), Arnaldo Velarde Ramírez, previously an air force general, testified in this hearing. The witness was called by Alberto Fujimori’s defense team and talked, among other things, about a debate in the United States in 1991 on a possible intervention in Peru and on the arrests carried out during the “self-coup” on April 5, 1992.
1. Incidents during the Hearing:
During the hearing, Fujimori supporters commented that the former president and his lawyer, César Nakazaki, no longer talk together in the little room reserved especially for them, but in the bathroom. According to the supporters, there is a small video camera in the room. However, they did not specify if the camera had been installed to film them or if it’s merely decoration.
If this is true, to date Nakazaki has made no formal questioning about this issue, though the meetings continue to take place in the bathrooms. Judge Iván Meini said that this kind of questioning does not belong in a judicial trial and has a political tone to it, which only serves to distract attention from the principal issue: to continue correctly with the trial.
Hearings without water
The water service has been restricted in the courtroom where Fujimori’s trial is being held and in the area reserved for journalists. The odd thing is that this inconvenience only happens on days when there are hearings (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) and in the rest of the police base, water access is normal.
2. The most important parts of Velarde Ramírez’s testimony:
US Intervention in Peru?
Gen. Arnaldo Velarde Ramírez revealed that during the time that he was a military attaché in the United States (1989-1990), he attended a hearing at the US Congress where a possible military intervention in Peru was debated. The witness explained that this possibility was analyzed because they considered that drug-trafficking and the subversive group Shining Path had made Peru “a country in danger.” Velarde assured that he has possession of an audio of this meeting, in which Charles Rangel and Bernard Aronson participated.
Previously, the CCFFAA was a joint association.
Since July 18, 1990 until September 1992, Velarde Ramírez formed part of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces. In 1991 he was elected president of this organization, which functioned as a joint association until September 1992. In other words, the president of the Joint Command made an agreement with the commander generals of the three armed forces (army, marines and airforce) and emitted a joint resolution. However, when Nicolás Hermoza Ríos succeeded him as president in 1992, he ceased the joint association and it began to have only one unified direction.
In reference to Hermoza Ríos’ term, the witness said, “He was the COFI,” the Command of Operations on the Internal Front, meaning he had complete control of COFI.
When he was asked about the human rights violations that occurred during Hermoza Ríos’ term, Velarde Ramírez gave a concise and definitive response: “They were wrong in leaving him alone.”
“Low-Intensity War” is not synonymous with “dirty war”
The general said he did not attend the School of the Americas, but he did know about the US Army’s manual used there. The manual refers to a “low-intensity war.”
Regarding this type of war, the witness asserted that 20 years ago this term was already known among the Peruvian armed forces. However, he claimed that there is currently confusion, since this strategy is not synonymous with a dirty war, but a way to confront non-conventional wars.
The witness explained that this is reflected in the Peruvian case, for example, in the fact that the population requested arms to combat Shining Path, and the Peruvian State granted the request. According to Velarde, this response was one of the ways that the Peruvian State confronted a non-conventional war: through a low-intensity war.
The question that should be asked is if the State’s distribution of arms to the civilians for self-defense is legitimate.
Information meeting for the Armed Forces and National Police on the self-coup.
On April 3, 1992, (two days prior to the coup), at night, the witness attended a meeting in Hermoza Ríos’ house.
When Fujimori arrived, he gave them an analysis of the country’s situation and the necessity of having adequate legislation to combat Shining Path, since (according to Fujimori) the subversive group had already achieved their goal of putting the State at risk. Moreover, Fujimori indicated that he had gathered them together to tell them the importance of strengthening control over the internal front. In order to achieve this, they were going to adopt “exceptional measures.” The witness said he never heard during the meeting that Congress would be closed.
However, Velarde said he was not present for the second part of the meeting, when the self-coup operations were coordinated. It is important to highlight that according to Velarde’s analysis:
Control over the internal front had already been strengthened.
At that time, Shining Path had not managed to put the Peruvian State in danger.
Regarding the “arrest” of Abel Salinas — then Senator — as well as other people on April 5, 1992, the witness said he found out early April 6 when the head of the base where the arrested people were taken called him to inform of the events.
Later, when Velarde asked Hermoza Ríos about this, he responded, “I did this by superior order.”
When he was asked about then defense minister, Víctor Malca Villanueva, the witness said he didn’t know anything.
Velarde Ramírez also said that he saw the “arrest” order, but that in this order the names of various people who had been arrested were not listed. He asserted that the order was verbal.
In other words, a former president of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces has confirmed that there were verbal orders not registered in documents within the Armed Forces. The most important question to ask is: Who was this superior who gave orders to the president of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces?
An illegal reduction of the economic budget for the Air Force caused its termination in the military realm.
Then defense minister, Víctor Malca Villanueva, told Velarde that US$500,000 had been taken from the budget assigned to the Peruvian Air Force and was redirected to the National Intelligence Service (SIN).
The witness consequently presented a document to the Defense Ministry, refusing this budget reduction, since this was illegal; however, four days after presenting the document, Velarde was removed from his position. The witness feels that this refusal to reduce the budget was the reason behind his removal.
3. Fujimori and the criminal trial of Vladimiro Montesinos:
Fujimori will not be a witness in the trial against Montesinos.
As previously mentioned on April 15, 2008, the Third Special Criminal Court of the Peruvian judiciary has been trying Vladimiro Montesinos for his escape to Panama on Oct. 29, 2000.
The Court accepted the request of Fujimori’s defense team and stated that Fujimori does not have to testify in the trial against Montesinos. The prosecutor in charge of the case, Alexei Saenz, has presented a complaint, which will be revised in the next few days by the Supreme Court.
4. Next witnesses:
For the next session, Alberto Ríos Rueda and Petronio Fernández Dávila have been summoned to testify. Fernández is currently being tried for supposed human rights violations committed in the Peruvian department of Ayacucho.