Peru's clean-up job

Miami Herald -- 10 July 2002

by Op Ed

Peru's modern-day Rasputin, Vladimiro Montesinos, was convicted last week for abuse of power while he was ex-President Alberto Fujimori's security chief.

A year and a week since his arrest after a cloak-and-dagger manhunt, a Peruvian court sentenced Montesinos to nine years and four months in prison. He also was fined nearly $3 million. But this won't be his last round in court nor will this likely be his last conviction. Montesinos is accused in more than 70 other cases with charges that range from murder to drug and arms trafficking and human-rights abuses.

Prosecutors were right to note that Montesinos's first conviction was only the beginning. By the end, we hope that Peru will have come a long way toward cleaning up the corruption left as the ugly Fujimori-Montesinos legacy.

The court found Montesinos to have acted unlawfully as the nation's shadowy intelligence chief from 1990 to 2000. In thousands of videos left behind as he went on the lam, Montesinos is seen bribing, blackmailing and otherwise corrupting prominent public officials, judges, business executives -- the cream of Peru's elite. His deceit has been exposed, but the web of corruption isn't completely dismantled. Thorough prosecution will help call all offenders to account.