Corridors of Power from Iquitos, Peru: Justice for Fujimori, and More . . .

Corridors of Power from Iquitos, Peru: Justice for Fujimori, and More . . .

IQUITOS, Peru -- JUSTICE FLOWED SMOOTHLY FOR FUJIMORI: Here in northern Peru, the compact, luxury cruise ship Aqua glides through the brown waters of the Amazon River, escorted by pink dolphins and serenaded from the surrounding rain forest by birdsong and chattering monkeys. Because this is the high-water season, the typical shoreline lies up to 35 feet below the fast-flowing river surface. While other parts of the globe safeguard every drop of their precious water resources, the Amazon will have discharged millions of tons of fresh water into the Atlantic Ocean by June, as it does every year.

Deep in the jungle, Peru's river people eke out a bare existence in ramshackle, muddy high-ground settlements. Still, the one-room schools here teach English as a second language, as they do throughout most of the country. For the river people, events in Lima, the capital, are light years away. Yet earlier this month, former President Alberto Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years in jail for human rights abuses, specifically the murder by death squads of nine students at Lima University along with a teacher, a journalist, and a businessman. Fujimori's 15-month trial was a scrupulous exercise in due process, a welcome sign of maturity in a country where the courts have a murky past -- and the exact opposite of how things were done in the dark days of Fujimori's own administration, particularly in his second term.

Another encouraging sign: Public reaction was a quick shrug of the shoulders. Though Fujimori has appealed, the well-conducted trial served as a catharsis for the families of the regime's many victims. And the fact that Peru successfully extradited its ex-president from Chile in order to put him on trial -- a first in Latin America -- has doubtless not been lost on other leaders in the hemisphere.

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