He was known as the Peruvian Rasputin, the spymaster of one of the most corrupt and brutal regimes in the country.
Vladimiro Montesinos devised a network of political espionage, mining the state coffers to control the high command of the military, the courts and the media, until he was shot down by one of his own videos, which showed him bribing politicians.
Now Montesinos, the power behind the throne of imprisoned former president Alberto Fujimori, has resurfaced after nearly two decades in relative obscurity, this time amid an apparent attempt to help Fujimori’s daughter, Keiko Fujimori, whose baseless claims of voter fraud have plunged Peru into its weeks more tumultuous in recent history. .
With all the ballots for the June 6 elections counted, the leftist candidate Pedro Castillo has a minimal advantage of about 44,000 votes over a total of more than 19 million.
But Fujimori, with the help of largely partisan media and a host of fake news, has demanded tens of thousands of votes be counted or removed, particularly in rural areas, where Castillo had overwhelming support.
Montesinos is serving multiple sentences for human rights crimes, corruption, and arms and drug trafficking in a maximum security naval base prison, but somehow he was able to use a landline number to make 17 phone calls to Pedro Rejas, a retired military officer and former Fujimori loyalist cohort who later revealed the recordings.
Peru’s Defense Ministry confirmed the security breach at the Navy-run prison and said that three guards and an officer had been removed from their posts.
In a conversation days after the elections, Montesinos appears to suggest that bribes be paid through an intermediary to three of the four members of an electoral tribunal to favor Fujimori in a recount.
“If we had done the job as we had proposed, we would not be in this shit problem,” complains Montesinos, 76, at one point in the recording.
The recordings mark the latest twist in a torturous post-election showdown, but also an unwelcome reminder of some of the country’s darkest recent stories.
Jo Marie Burt, principal investigator for the Washington Office for Latin America, said: “Keiko Fujimori has long tried to separate herself and her father from Montesinos.”
“We don’t know if she is really following his advice or not,” added Burt, who was an observer at the Alberto Fujimori trial, which ended in 2009 with a 25-year prison sentence for human rights crimes and corruption.
Burt said that Keiko Fujimori represented the continuation of his father’s political project, of which Montesinos was an integral part. “Their relationship was hand in hand. One cannot exist without the other, ”he said.
Fujimori has called the Montesinos recording an attempt to distract the public from the electoral process, but there are indications that Fujimori’s supporters have begun to distance themselves from her. “Enough is enough,” he said one weekend newspaper column at El Comercio, part of Peru’s largest media group, which had previously endorsed the three-time presidential candidate.
“Today it is clear that what began with the use of legitimate legal resources to question the suitability of some ballots … has begun to turn into an attempt to delay the process as much as possible,” the column reads.
Castillo’s party, Peru Libre, has denied allegations of fraud while the US State Department described the process as a “model of democracy,” and the I he described the elections as “free and democratic.”
The appearance of Montesinos’ audio ended a disturbing week, as one of the four judges of the electoral court resigned, leaving him without a quorum, after clashing with the other officials over requests to nullify votes. He was replaced by another judge on Saturday, but both face separate investigations for alleged corruption.
The electoral tribunal has until July 28, Peru’s independence day, to declare the winner; otherwise, new elections must be called in accordance with the country’s constitution.
Meanwhile, prosecutors seek to charge former generals and admirals – among them former military dictator Francisco Morales Bérmúdez, prosecuted for the murder of Italian civilians in Operation Condor – of sedition and conspiracy for three open letters asking the Armed Forces to reject Castillo’s proposal. presidential claim.
“What we are seeing is a slow-motion conspiracy to prevent Castillo from becoming president,” said Burt.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism