LIMA, Peru—Peruvians had a hard time enough concentrating on Christmas preparations as they watched their president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, barely avoid impeachment on corruption charges on Dec. 21. But then, three days later, on Christmas Eve, Kuczynski pardoned former President Alberto Fujimori. Known for his authoritarianism and human rights abuses during his decade in power in the 1990s, Fujimori spent the past 12 years in jail, convicted of corruption and crimes against humanity. His divisive pardon has already sparked large protests.
The riveting political drama during a week that is usually reserved for shopping and parties caps a tumultuous year for Kuczynski. The opposition Popular Force party, which is led by Fujimori’s daughter, Keiko Fujimori, has waged political warfare against his administration, while a growing list of corruption allegations have left one former president in jail, another facing extradition to Peru and another under investigation.
Kuczynski won the presidency in 2016 by defeating Keiko Fujimori by a fraction of a percent of the popular vote, largely because many voters associated her with corruption. However, Fujimori’s party, Popular Force, won a majority of seats in Congress and has made it difficult for Kuczynski to govern, pushing several of his ministers to resign.