Fujimori on Trial :: Fujimori procesado

Accountability in Action :: Rindiendo cuentas

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An Informational Trial: The Fujimori Case

by Catalina Salazar Herrera[1]

I have been able to watch and sometimes remain glued — even when I have no time — to the televised trial of Fujimori, provoked by the need for exchange and collective reflection, the active commitment to translate ideas and thoughts into words, positions and actions.  I regret that I quit doing this long ago, I don’t know if it was because of exhaustion or because I needed to believe in a system that helped to reconstruct our society after 2000. 

When I have a chance to observe clips from the trial replayed in the news, I tell myself how little must remain of our imagination if we cannot remember the monstrosity, the complexity of the corruption, impunity, authoritarianism, manipulation, etc., of the government in the 1990s. How bold our ignorance appears upon awakening — some of us had taken to the streets, publishing our own perceptions, dramatizing accusations that we felt touched us, breaking the fences where we had sought refuge and allowed ourselves to be like prisoners, fleeing from the terror or being confused by it in that time of suspicions. 

I recognize that thanks to the minimal threats we received, it was possible to save Leonor La Rosa from her fated death.[2]  Even though we had our own disagreements about what she was doing, we were motivated to help a fellow woman.  We became actively involved in the re-election,[3] going out to the streets believing that with our daily efforts we could put a stop to what was being plotted behind closed doors, and the loss of this battle, far from frustrating us, motivated us in our indignation, even transforming us — in the words of Rocío Silva Santiesteban[4] — into modern day Antigones who took to the streets, including game and symbolism in politics with a subversive air, characteristic of women, according to Gina Vargas.[5]  She recovered her voice and her juvenile energy for the fight against the destruction of the Constitutional Tribunal,[6] and for women’s participation in the “Cuatro Suyos” protest.[7]

Fujimori’s televised trial, which at times I get really fed up with, is similar to virtual information, overwhelming in its vastness.  Even when I recognize its contributions, the simultaneity and reconciliation, the pure density of the information makes any analytic reflection difficult. 

I therefore assume, like in the cases mentioned above, there is a need for one’s own space and for time to transform the dense information into something understandable and useful.  This very well might be an isolated, personal, and demanding requirement, since I usually react as circumstances demand.  At the same time, I need a certain amount of time to assimilate, reflect, propose, and give value to my thoughts in the face of so much shame.

The Fujimori case puts me in the midst of a contradiction: perceiving the threat that demands reactions of unpredictability[8], as well as the need for a process to assimilate and understand, and therefore to act.  Along these lines, I think that this contradiction comes from the fact that we are doubly-committed to being both citizens and political beings, which is demanding because of its legal and moral incompatibility and political challenge, as well as for its consequences on the future relations of Peruvians and the social future of the country. 

The facts and the exercise of power as a form of submission affects us individually and collectively, rationally and subjectively.  We are often visceral in our perceptions of ourselves and others.  However, it is possible to save ourselves from the temptation to be submissive and from the tragedy, if we consider the dimension of power as creativity and human growth, and we assume our options and promises with decency, dignity, ethics, responsibility, justice, authority, etc.  The trial against Fujimori can be an opportunity to recuperate faith in the system and in those who are in charge of justice, in the wisdom of civil society to make a decision that can affirm the fundamental bases of our coexistence.

The expedient of the symbolic and real sanction for actions that deny confidence, a good life, respect for life, human rights, and democracy can be an opportunity to process the information that we are seeing — beyond the “command responsibility” show, affirming our identities as Peruvians with dignity and the capacity to take correct measures, and the precedent for a “never again.”

Without a doubt Fujimori is not the first president to be tried, nor will his be the last corrupt and corrupting government, but he is the first who has in his favor (or against him) the high-tech era and the abilities of the media, showing how — in McLuhan’s terms — the media’s presence and above all, its use, produces effects in the way we form our relationships and even in the way we perceive the world.  In the words of Sinesio López, tension and communicating vessels between instrumental rationality and communicative rationality. 

I want to have confidence in the fact that it is possible to change the facts in order to continue toward an informational society which, in Castel’s proposal, supposed that in addition to the social information generation (that has always existed), there is the possibility to process and broadcast.  This must be the opportunity to save the mishaps and injured persons of our country so that information becomes the fundamental source of formation, providing virtuousness to its productivity and power.  Thanks to new technological conditions of our time this is a fact that we cannot ignore, let alone deny. 

The possibility that is available to give content and meaning to “the news” that today moves like a pendulum over us, could re-establish confidence in social mechanisms.  Therefore, I believe that all the effort registering, debating, systematizing and advertising is something that is really important and necessary, a welcome effort.  The more each of us is accustomed to the reproduction of information, the more respect and plurality one can attain in order to notice the errors, to repent and exorcize, to construct historic memory and affirmations of justice and real validity of respect and promotion of human rights.  In the end we hope to construct positive symbols of justice and light.  And let’s not forget that our awareness will depend on our ability to keep in mind the implications of the outcome.  If Fujimori is declared innocent, the repetition of his practices will continue to infinity, our country will continue with its problems, explicitly demonstrating our difficulty as a nation to make each of us assume responsibility for the costs of his or her own actions.  If he is declared guilty, this will create conditions for the breaking down of such practices for future governments and politicians as well as the end of governmental systems that are still in power in our America and the world.


Lima, Friday, Feb. 1, 2008


[1] Researcher and Consultant for Gender Projects of Development and Politics


[2] See a series of events described in Salazar (2001), Actuación Política de las Mujeres Peruanas en el Siglo XX at http://www.unb.br/ih/his/gefem/labrys11/peru/olea.htm#_ednref45


[3] Isis, 1998, http://www.isis.cl/publicaciones/miraesp2.htm


[4] La República, June 27, 2000


[5] Vargas, 2000, http://www.cotidianomujer.org.uy/2000/33-p12.htm),


[6] www.cajpe.org.pe/cronolog/junpe2.htm


[7] http://www.cimac.org.mx/noticias/00jul/00072012.html


[8] The action within a situation of “eventualities” has a certain sense of a climactic moment, after which remains reflection.