The Carter Center worked to resolve conflict, advance human rights, and strengthen democracy in Peru for more than a decade.
The Carter Center and International IDEA initiated a dialogue forum among the five Andean countries (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia) and the United States in 2010. The purpose of the Andean-U.S. Dialogue Forum, an 18-month series of dialogue sessions held in both the United States and the Andean region, was to:
• Identify a common agenda for the six countries;
• Address misperceptions and misunderstandings between countries;
• Propose innovative solutions to problematic issues; and
• Explore the possibility of bilateral dialogues between pairs of countries with tense relations within the forum.
Elected in 1990, Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori amended the constitution so he could run for a second term and was widely criticized during those two five-year terms for undemocratic practices. During a 1992 coup against him, he shut down the Congress and Supreme Court, replacing them with a legislature and judiciary that leaned in his favor. His intelligence service intimidated his critics into silence, and independent media outlets were shut down. He decided to run for a third term, and when three judges said such a move would be unconstitutional, he dismissed them. The Carter Center and others in the international community became increasingly concerned as they saw these developments unfold.
Given these events, The Carter Center partnered with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) to observe Peru's 2000 presidential elections. Prior to election day, April 9, 2000, the Center and NDI publicly identified numerous issues that led them to conclude irreparable damage was done to the electoral process and that it fell far below international standards. The Center and NDI asked President Alberto Fujimori to postpone the elections, but he declined.
The Center and NDI sent a small mission to observe voting on April 9. The mission saw many flaws, including: pre-marked ballots in favor of Fujimori; ballots that did not list opponent Alejandro Toledo; attempted intimidation by police and the military; inexplicable delays in the vote-computing process;
and in a significant number of polling stations, more ballots cast than the number of voters assigned to
the polling site.
Peruvian election officials called for a runoff on May 28, 2000, since neither presidential candidate received 50 percent of the vote. Because fundamental flaws were not rectified and Toledo withdrew from the runoff, the Center and NDI declined to observe the runoff.
After the fraudulent May runoff, President Carter, Barbados Prime Minister Erskine Sandiford, and former Costa Rica President Rodrigo Carazo, who led one of the Center's assessment missions to Peru, called on the Organization of American States to send a special mission to develop remedies to the legitimacy crisis, which the OAS did. The Center and NDI returned in July 2000 to meet with Peruvian political and civic groups, though Fujimori's government declined offers to meet with the delegation. At the conclusion of their mission, the team called for shortening of President Fujimori's term and new elections. In September 2000, Fujimori agreed to shorten his term, called for new elections in 2001, and announced he would not be a candidate. He later fled the country in December amid a corruption scandal and, from exile in Japan, resigned the presidency.
During the subsequent April 2001 presidential election, The Carter Center and NDI returned, noting widespread poll opening delays, and in a few instances, polls did not open at all. The delegation found that Peru had made remarkable progress since the fraudulent election of May 2000. Toledo, who entered the race again, and his opponent, former President Alan Garcia, headed to a runoff. The Center and NDI observed the runoff election, in which Toledo emerged as the people's choice.
At the end of his first year in office, President Toledo convened a national dialogue of all political parties and civil society representatives to set a framework for governance. He asked The Carter Center to help assure the dialogue's success by providing international advisers. On behalf of the Center and its Council of Presidents and Prime Ministers of the Americas, former Costa Rica President Rodrigo Carazo advised the national dialogue and visited Peru on three occasions to participate in the process, which resulted in a consensus document.
Breakthrough interactive and Web-based maps detailing media coverage during national elections were unveiled in February 2006 by The Carter Center, the University of Calgary, and the Canadian Foundation for the Americas. Developed using state-of-the-art technology, the maps were designed to increase transparency in campaign finance reform and democracy-building efforts by illustrating where media are located, how far they broadcast, who owns them, and what the demographic profile is of the electoral constituencies they reach.
President Carter issued a statement to the media in May 1996, calling for the Peruvian government to provide a civilian court trial for Lori Berenson, a young American woman convicted of treason by a military tribunal in Peru. Berenson's trial was in a secret military court, where her lawyer was not allowed to cross-examine witnesses or challenge evidence. The Carter Center continued to follow the case at the request of her family. In 2001, she was granted a retrial, resulting in the reduction of her life sentence to a 20-year prison sentence, and in May 2010, Berenson was released on parole after serving 15 years in prison.
During the resurgence of violence between Ecuador and Peru in 1995, President Carter and former Costa Rica President Oscar Arias issued a message urging peace between the two nations. They requested negotiations and a cease-fire to restore peace in the region. Both leaders were members of the Council of Presidents and Prime Ministers of the Americas.
To support a healthy relationship between governments, the media, and journalists, as well as to promote policies and practices to strengthen freedom of expression, democratic governance, and the prevention and escalation of socio-political conflicts, The Carter Center held a series of discussions in countries across the Latin American region from January 2013 to November 2014 through the Contentious Issues in the Americas project.
Representing a potential threat to the free flow of ideas and points of view in a democracy, high levels of media concentration in Peru have the potential of distorting free competition and stifling freedom of press and expression. The Carter Center-facilitated dialogue and reflections held in Lima, Peru, on March 21, 2014, brought together experts from throughout the region to discuss the topic and its impact on freedom of expression and democratic governance and allowed for the first time the directors of major newspapers El Comercio and La República to discuss together concentration of media ownership within Peru. The newspapers disputed the acquisition of a third print media company that granted El Comercio a position of dominance of the media and advertising market. This was the first event in which both parties spoke publicly about the issue, opening a space for dialogue. While broadcast media companies are only able to share a percentage of the airwaves in Peru's television and radio markets, the country's laws do not place any legal limits on print media's ownership concentration.
Through the series of conversations, The Carter Center hoped to enhance compliance with the essential elements of a representative democracy, the defense and practice of human rights, and a better understanding of the values and principles of the American Convention of Human Rights, the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights.
Please sign up below for important news about the work of The Carter Center and special event invitations.
Size: 1,285,216 square kilometers
Population below poverty line: 26 percent
Life expectancy: 74 years
Ethnic groups: Amerindian, mixed ancestry, white, black, Japanese, Chinese, and other
Religions: Roman Catholic, Evangelical, other, none
Languages: Spanish (official), Quechua (official), Aymara (official), Ashaninka, other native languages (includes a large number of minor Amazonian languages), other
Source: U.S. Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook 2016