LIMA/VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis next week visits Peru, a country divided over former autocrat leader Alberto Fujimori, whose pardon from prison by the current president has reopened wounds from one of the country’s darkest periods.
Peruvians will watch closely to see if the Argentine pope signals any concern over the pardon after he arrives on Thursday from Chile on the second leg of a South America trip, where corruption and the plight of indigenous people will likely come up.
President - Pedro - Pablo - Kuczynski - Wall
President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a former Wall Street banker, last month narrowly survived an impeachment bid over a graft scandal with the help of Fujimori’s loyalists in Congress, and pardoned Fujimori three days later.
Fujimori, 79, had served less than half of a 25-year sentence for corruption and human rights crimes for commanding death squads to combat a Maoist-inspired insurgency during his 1990-2000 right-wing populist government.
Opponents - Fujimori - Kuczynski - Condemnation - Terms
Opponents of both Fujimori and Kuczynski will be seeking a papal condemnation, even if only in general terms, of human rights abuses and corruption.
“Hopefully the Pope will show solidarity with the victims,” said human rights activist Gisela Ortiz, whose brother was one of nine university students killed in a massacre of civilians that Fujimori was found guilty of ordering.
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She called on Francis to meet with her and other family members of Fujimori’s victims. “We want to express how worried we are about the injustice we’re living in,” she said.
Kuczynski, 79, cited medical reasons for granting Fujimori the pardon and has said it was fundamentally about forgiveness. He denies it was part of a backroom deal.
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Rosa Rojas, who is also seeking a meeting with the pope, said she still struggles with the loss of her husband and eight-year-old son, who were killed in Fujimori’s battle against the Shining Path rebels.
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