Fujimori-era spy scandal returns to haunt Peruvian politics

Ollanta HumalaBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
Faithful readers of this blog will be familiar with the case of Vladimiro Montesinos, the former director of Peru’s intelligence service, Servicio de Inteligencia Nacional (SIN). Montesinos, a CIA agent, is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence for setting up a sophisticated network of illegal activities during his SIN tenure. The crimes he committed included drug trafficking, bribing, extortion, as well as embezzlement. Many of these activities were conducted under the direction of Peru’s disgraced former president Alberto Fujimori. He too is now in prison for having handed Montesinos $15 million from government coffers. In the past decade, civil society in Peru has tried to move on from these scandals, and has sought to establish a more stable political culture. In the 2011 elections, the country voted for Ollanta Humala, who was sworn into office on July 28 of that year. The son of a labor lawyer, Humala became a career military officer at an early age. In 2000, he became known across Peru when he led a local mutiny against the government of Alberto Fujimori, complaining against corruption in the central government. The mutiny, joined by a just few dozens of soldiers in southern Peru, was quickly quashed by the government, and Humala soon found himself in prison. However, he was pardoned by the Peruvian Congress after the fall of the Fujimori regime. Moreover, Humala was seen by many as a national hero for his defiant stance in 2000. However, Humala’s stardom has begun to fade in recent weeks, after media reports drew the country’s attention to Óscar López Meneses. Over a decade ago, López was taken to court along with Fujimori and Montesinos, and was given a suspended sentence for having helped the sinister spy kingpin run his criminal network around the country. López has kept a low profile in recent years, but Peruvian media reported last month that he has remained in close operational contact with the Peruvian police. The revelation led to the eventual resignation of Peru’s minister of the interior, Wilfredo Pedraza, while his interim successor quickly fired seven senior police officials for having contacts with López. One of those fired was Adrián Villafuerte, a retired Army colonel, who served alongside Humala and acted as his security adviser after the current Peruvian president entered politics. Many are now wondering whether the president knew about López’s contacts with the country’s police leadership. Some pundits have raised doubts about whether Fujimori’s and Montesino’s illegal intelligence network, which subverted Peruvian political life for over a decade, has actually been dismantled. Could it be that, like Fujimori, president Humala has failed to resist the temptation to run an underground intelligence network aimed at his political opponents? The president has denied the allegations and has authorized an official investigation on “police corruption”, claiming that López’s dealings with law enforcement were not authorized by his office.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

3 Responses to Fujimori-era spy scandal returns to haunt Peruvian politics

  1. JosephG894@aol.com says:

    Your posting contains an inaccuracy. Montesinos was NOT a CIA agent but an asset of the station. There is a difference, and as someone who purports to know a bit about intelligence, you should know better than to make such an error. Joseph C. Goulden Washington, DC

  2. ABT says:

    I have worked in IC with various CI and CT missions. I can safely say that Montesinos was much more than a CIA “asset.” He was a CIA agent, and a double agent at that. To be precise, he was a CIA agent-in-place, considering that he was also an accredited SIN officer while he worked for CIA. The CIA does not give “assets” $10 million in cash, nor does it place mere “assets” at the center of nationwide surveillance schemes as it did with Montesinos.

  3. intelNews says:

    @Joseph C. Goulden: The purpose of this website is to focus on the issues, so I will respond to the content of your message, rather than the tone. Vladimiro Montesinos was indeed a CIA asset who worked for the Agency as a double agent. He is, in fact, a textbook definition of a double agent, namely an accredited employee of an intelligence agency who covertly operates on behalf of a target organization. Montesinos was an employee of Servicio de Inteligencia Nacional (SIN), but was on the payroll of the CIA, a foreign intelligence agency that is among SIN’s targets. That makes him not simply a CIA asset (which he was), but more importantly a CIA agent.

    I would propose, however, that focusing on the precise definition of Montesinos’ relationship with the CIA is somewhat counterproductive. It tends to distract us from the wider issue, which is the CIA’s unsavory and damaging association with a megalomaniac criminal, who was a traitor to both his country and to the principles of the United States. That the Agency tried to suppress the report on the subject by case officer Franz Boening, which argues that the CIA violated US law by hiring Montesinos, is equally distasteful. Thank you for your comment. [JF]

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