Better the devil you know?: a millennial’s perspective on the Fujimori Legacy

The legacy of Alberto Fujimori is controversial. While he has numerous supporters across Peru and abroad such as our previous interviewee Ella Carkagis, among Peruvians born in the 1980s and 1990s in particular, opposition is common. In this profile, Alexis Castro Robles interviews Carkagis’ eldest daughter, Marianella, who gives us an insight into the ‘other side’ of Fujimori’s regime and also how she perceives Peru’s future now that Alberto Fujimori has received a ‘humanitarian pardon.’

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Alberto, Kenji and Keiko Fujimori (Image courtesy of ‘Peru 21’ newspaper) 

Marianella, although you were in your teenage years during the late 1990s, do you remember what politics was like at that time from your family and school?

At that time, everyone was afraid of everything. Our parents sent us to school with fear, because the terrorists chose targets randomly. I remember that the street lights blew up and that we stayed in the dark. There were always candles in my house. There were soldiers in the streets and curfews quite often. We could not leave the house after 7pm. I remember the terror that we felt walking past a car that looked suspicious in the street, because it could be a ‘coche bomba’ (car bomb). At school they taught us to be prepared at all times. We simulated emergency situations. They also taught us to shout a warning if we heard a very loud sound, because it could be a bomb.

Your mother was supportive of Fujimori’s measures in granting the military extensive powers to challenge ‘terror’ by arresting suspected rebels and trying them in secret military courts with few legal rights. What are your thoughts?

Terrorism was so bad in the 90s that the government had to declare war. We believed that there was a good side (the state) and a bad side (the terrorists) but we were wrong. The country was consumed by a witch hunt. Any man could say that his neighbor was a terrorist and without evidence the military could take him from his house in the early morning and ‘disappear’ him. Villagers were taken from their homes by soldiers and executed. They raped the women. The buses that went to the provinces were dangerous for this reason. We were terrorised both by the terrorists and by the military, who far from protecting us, took advantage of the power granted them to torture, rape and kill.

Do you believe Peruvians recognise the human rights violations committed by Fujimori and the military? If not, what impedes this recognition?

Fujimori was a showman. He went on national television with boots, helmet and carrying cement to every school he built. He appeared to help with everything, while also robbing his people and murdering us. He did many works to keep us quiet. His government was bloodthirsty. We Peruvians are so poor in education that we are not able to understand that “the lesser evil” is not good. “That he who steals but does work” is not good. We are not used to thinking about our neighbor. We think only of ourselves and our hunger. There are many people who know what Fujimori has done and do not care because they were “necessary deaths”. No death is necessary. Homicide is a crime.

What do you think about the mass forced sterilisation that affected around 300 000 Indigenous Peruvian women, many of them without anaesthesia, in the late 1990s?

It was simply inhumane. There are people like my mother who say it was necessary. Machismo did not allow women to make the decision to no longer have children and many thanked the government for having sterilised them. But many women without children and very young were also sterilised, without anaesthetics and without knowing what was being done to them. They were treated like cows. When my mum says it was necessary, I answer: What if it had been your daughter? What if it had been me? She remains silent. Those people who were mistreated could be any of us and we should all repudiate a fact as execrable as that. The solution was and is in education for all. Machismo exists because there is no education.

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Peruvian women march against Keiko Fujimori, drawing attention to women’s rights, Keiko’s political ties with her father and her questionable human rights stance. (Image courtesy of ‘Diario UNO’ newspaper)

Fujimori’s sterilisation of women was highlighted by opponents during the presidential campaign of Alberto Fujimori’s daughter, Keiko. For example 30 000 protesters in Lima expressed their discontent in April 2016. Do you think these protesters feared a possible return to her father’s dynasty? 

Yes indeed. The same people who were with [Alberto] Fujimori, are also on the side of Fujimori’s daughter. Her government would be a terrible blow against democracy.

Do you think the protests were a response of the Peruvian Left? Or just those who supported for the current Peruvian President, Pedro Pablo Kucyznski (‘PPK’)?

‘PPK’ won the elections thanks to Keiko Fujimori. He won because we were against her winning. He did not win on his own merit. The PPK government is another mistake to avoid the greater evil. He is a president who has done nothing for us like so many others. Our streets are infested with criminals.

Lastly, Alberto Fujimori has received the ‘humanitarian pardon’ for his ailing health by Kuczynski in December 2017. What do you think about this decision?

‘PPK’ sold our country when he pardoned Fujimori. He did not care about the hundreds of mothers who still cry for their unborn children. Nor the disappeared parents who could not raise their children. Not even the hundreds of women who were harmed and mistreated by the regime. Kuczynski was on the verge of losing the presidency for a fujimorista coup d’etat. He betrayed every Peruvian by pardoning him.

Alexis Castro Robles

Call for papers

It’s that time of the year again! History in the Making are looking for papers for our next issue. It doesn’t matter if you’re an undergraduate, postgraduate, or somewhere in the middle. If you have an essay, thesis extract, or a submission prepared just for us, we’re interested in looking at it!

Check out this page to find out how to submit.

Submissions close 30 April 2018.

Fond Memories of a Dictator: The Fujimori Legacy in Peruvian History

Latin American history and politics has taken an interesting turn of late. On 24 December 2017, the current Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski granted an official ‘humanitarian pardon’ to former President Alberto Fujimori, whilst new Chilean President Sebastian Piñera only today declared his Cabinet, including members who have links to the Pinochet regime. 

In this blog post, Alexis Castro Robles interviews  Ella Carkagis, a nurse assistant living in Sydney since 2011, who supports Fujimori’s actions. In both Peru and abroad, Fujimori’s legacy attracts both praise and criticism, most notably his actions in ending the 1980-1997 terror of the Shining Path and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) for the people of Peru. He is criticised for having achieved this at the cost of breaching human rights which led him being sentenced to twenty-five years in prison in 2009.  

What were your experiences during the era of terror in Peru? Did you agree with Fujimori’s measure to overcome this by granting the military extensive powers to arrest suspected rebels and try them in secret military courts with few legal rights?

During the 1980s and most of the 1990s, I was always scared to leave my house and, like everyone I knew, there was always the thought of whether you would come back alive.  I lived in a time where if you saw a package in the street, you thought it was a bomb, where electric light towers would continuously blow up and you had to stay in the dark.  No one in the world would like to live in constant fear and terror of dying anytime.  During this time, I was also at university and, as many of us lost numerous semesters, we had to dedicate ourselves to throw stones in the street burn tires and challenge the police for a better education and end corruption.  Fujimori himself once entered my university to drill the students in the courtyard, hoisting our national flag, making us place our hands on our chests and singing the national anthem.  He told us that we were students whose duty was to study for our country and parents.

I agree with Fujimori’s measure as he made sure to capture the leaders of the Shining Path and MRTA, who together caused the deaths of over 60,000 people.  While Fujimori was accused of killing nine La Cantuta University students, I believe that as a president of Peru, if nine killed hundreds of people, I would have also avoided further deaths by killing these students.  Why defending the rights of nine people? What about the rights of thousands and thousands of people killed by terrorism in Peru during the 80s and 90s?

What about the mass forced sterilisation that affected around 300 000 Indigenous Peruvian women, many of them without anaesthesia, by the Fujimori regime in the late 1990s? Do you think it was an act of abuse and genocide?

At that time, I was a school teacher in a very impoverished area of Peru’s capital city, Lima. I know for a fact that some of my students’ mothers underwent these sterilisations since they already had too many children, their economic situation was critical, and they even told me they were grateful for it.  I agree to sterilise women with numerous children who are in extreme poverty without the possibility of giving a good quality of life to their children who could end up begging in the street and have to prostitute themselves under bridges.

Do you think his program has improved the lives of Indigenous women?

I believe there has been progress for Indigenous Peruvian women, but it should be sustained.   I have travelled around Peru in the 2000s and I have seen great progress for these women in the main provincial cities, but we still need to reach more remote villages where populations live in towns that border other countries and poverty is rampant.

How has the Fujimori regime influenced geographical regions in the 1990s?

Fujimori ordered highways and roads not only in Lima but in more remote and poor provinces like Ilo, Abancay and Ayacucho.  He also facilitated medical centres and schools across the nation, including one in front of my house.  That is why those in the provinces favour Fujimori.  In the 2016 presidential elections for instance, you can see people in the poor provinces such as Ayacucho voted for Fujimori’s daughter, Keiko in contrast to the vote in Lima.

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Map depicting votes for the second round of the 2016 Peruvian Presidential Elections by Province (Image via Wikipedia). Pedro Pablo Kuczynski won the election with a runoff breakdown of 50.12% against Keiko Fujimori’s 49.88%. 

If Keiko Fujimori received support in the last elections, why do you think over 30,000 protesters across Lima expressed their discontent during her campaign in April 2016? Do you think they were fearing a possible return to her father’s dynasty? 

The majority of these protesters were university students who are too young to remember what people like me suffered during the era of terrorism in Peru and what Fujimori achieved in the 1990s.  All these young people who have no memory of our dark past are part of the Peruvian Left today and hate Fujimori for the death of nine terrorist students from La Cantuta University.  They voted for the current Peruvian President, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (‘PPK’).

I do think that it was fear motivating the Peruvian Left who found in university students a willing bastion but voting for ‘PPK’ was a serious error.   And of course, the Left understood Fujimori’s crime in killing innocent people.  Terrorism will not return if the Fujimoristas again have power.

Now that Alberto Fujimori has received the ‘humanitarian pardon’ for his ailing health by Kuczynski, are you grateful for this decision? Or do you think it was an act of convenience from Kuczynski as Fujimori’s son, Kenji, helped him to survive a bid of impeachment?

Fujimori deserved the pardon for having been for me and much of the population the best president that Peru had.  ‘PPK’ was dishonest and he should have pardoned him earlier, not at the precise moment that his position was at risk.

Alexis Castro Robles

 Alexis is a final year BA student at UNSW aiming to do Honours in 2019, focusing in topics relating to Latin American History and subaltern studies.

History in the Making author in focus: Joanna Molloy

Joanna Molloy is the author of “How does the film ‘Dresden- The Inferno’ reconstruct life in Dresden and represent the trauma suffered by victims of the 1945 Dresden bombing,” recently published in Volume 5, Number 1 of History in the Making. 

Here, Joanna reflects on the context behind her article, her future reading plans, and on what she views as key contributions and contributors to the field of History.

What’s your favourite history book?

One of my favourite history books is Eric Hobsbawm’s ‘Interesting Times – A Twentieth-Century Life’. Hobsbawm lived in Vienna in the 1920s, witnessed the rise of Nationalist Socialism in Berlin in the early 1930s, arrived in England in 1933 and went on to study history at Cambridge. In this book he discussed world events and forces such as Fascism, Communism and the Cold War by drawing on, and combining his personal experiences of the twentieth-century with his interpretations as an academic historian.

Who is a historian you admire and why?

I also like Mary Fulbrook’s extensive writings on Germany in the twentieth-century, and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in particular. She uses a wide range of sources and approaches; combining state records, cultural artifacts and oral histories. Her writing is clear and measured, and she sees GDR society in its complexity, rather than framing the GDR with Cold War ideology.

Continue reading

New issue: Volume Five Number One

History in the Making has a new issue: Volume Five Number One. This new issue continues the journal’s strong record of publishing outstanding work by history students.

This issue focusses on twentieth century European history, with insights from Swatilekha AhmedRebecca Cordony and Joanna Molloy. We also emphasise the role of women in history, most prominently in Michelle Staff’s talented examination of women’s biography.

We’re looking for new members

History in the Making is looking for new members to join our team.

We’re looking for PhD or Honours students in history, who are interested in the behind-the-scenes work involved in running a journal.

Our volunteer team shares our skills and experience to handle the journal’s:

  • liaison with our authors, reviewers, editors, and supporters;
  • graphic design;
  • publishing;
  • social media;
  • website management, and
  • database management.

If you know how to do any these things, or are keen to learn, then we want to hear from you.

The role will be easiest for someone based in Sydney. We meet about once a month, on weekends and weeknights, in Sydney.

If you’re interested in this opportunity, send us an email, telling us about your experience, why you’re interested in joining our team, and the skills that you could bring.

Call for papers

History in the Making is again calling for papers for a new issue. From first-year undergraduates with a fresh perspective on American politics, to Honours students with original research, History in the Making is the journal for up-and-coming history students.

If you have an assignment, thesis extract, or a submission prepared just for History in the Making, now is the time to submit. We will select a group of authors to work with our editors to improve their submissions and prepare them for publication in late 2017.

Submissions close 7 May 2017.

 

 

History in the Making author in focus: Rebecca Hart

Rebecca Hart is the author of ‘Where There’s a Will: Using Deceased Estate Documents to Inform Family History’, which was published in Volume 4 Number 2 of History in the Making.

Rebecca has a background in midwifery and health science, and is currently studying for a Graduate Diploma in Local, Family and Applied History at the University of New England (UNE).

In this blog post, she explains her interest in history, gives some advice about submitting to History in the Making, and gives her tips for primary archival research.

How did you come to your topic for your article?

My interest began as purely personal as Hannah, the central figure of my article, is my great-great-grandmother. I had always known the story of her being the local midwife, and became more interested in her when I became a midwife myself, and I really wanted to tell her story. Through the Grad Dip in Local, Family & Applied History at UNE I have been able to explore a range of topics around Hannah, including the paperwork relating to her death. The original essay topic was unpacking the distribution of wealth across generations within the family i.e. from Hannah to her children and subsequently onto theirs. It was interesting to see the differences in how each of the children fared and try to understand their circumstances in a socio-economic sense, especially as her daughters were much more successful than her sons. But the differences in the paperwork were also really interesting – both Hannah and Catherine’s wills are rich in clues about their relationships and connections, but dramatically different in tone, content, and intent. This is the aspect I focussed on for my article – can paperwork such as a will tell us about a person? How? Why would Hannah leave a house to Jack, but let Lizzie use it indefinitely? Why would Catherine leave the farmland to Elsie, but deny her the equipment she needed to run it? For me, family history really lives beyond names and dates on a tree and in the stories – both Hannah and Catherine left such tantalising little clues to explore!

Why do you think the study of history is important?

I think studying history gives us context for our lives. Who are we? How did we get here? Where are we going? Taking a midwifery perspective for example, I realised as a student that midwives are not taught a professional history. There is no ‘Florence Nightingale’ heroic identity or image, or stories of skilled pioneer women, respected in their community. Although the regulation of midwifery is now well documented, much of the discourse around midwifery practice is very negative, emphasising baby-farmers, abortionists, and Dickensian ‘Sairy Gamp’ style drunkards, and often couched in ‘us and them’ terms in opposition to the professions of nursing and/or obstetrics. Midwifery has begun a process of re-establishing itself as a discrete profession in the last decade or so, but we have no context for professional identity or professional pride without knowing our history. How can we know who we are or where we are going if we do not know who or where we came from?

What advice would you give to someone considering submitting an article to the journal?

Do it! It is a really interesting process from being told a paper is good and ‘you should publish that’ to producing an article for publication. It was actually fun to be able to ditch the assigned question and reframe it to focus on my choice of topic. The peer-review feedback process was revealing in the way it presented different perspectives to those I had considered, and also provided genuinely constructive criticism on technical aspects of writing and editing. The 1-1 feedback from my assigned editor was invaluable. There was nothing threatening in the process, and everyone I dealt with from the journal was supportive and encouraging. I was much more excited than I expected to see my paper ‘out there’ – tick that goal off the bucket list! – and the reactions of my lecturers, friends & family have been great.

How did you find and access your primary sources?

Most of the primary sources for this paper are available in public archives – Public Record Offices in Northern Ireland (PRONI) and Victoria (PROV), Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages Victoria (BDMVic), National Archives UK and Australia, Parliamentary papers, Convict LINC Tasmania, Victoria Police Museum, and Trove. Some of these are freely available online, for example, many wills in Victoria can be downloaded free from PROV, and LINC provides extensive convict records free. Other resources require a trip to the archive to view and photograph, such as land grants from PROV. Victoria Police service records must be requested through the media unit before a .pdf is emailed. Although they can be valuable, I have so far refused to pay for services such as ancestry.com, but instead accessed them via my local library. These services can be very hit-and-miss: you might spend hours and find nothing or strike absolute gold in minutes. Similarly, you might find nothing in one and loads in another on the exact same person! It can be time consuming and frustrating. Also, you may or may not be able to access actual documents; sometimes only a transcript is available. BDMVic is excellent in that online searching is now free, and certificates are available for immediate download but of course there is a cost, and at $25 per certificate it can become very expensive to explore a family.

Where would you like to take your research next?

I want to do a major research project around Grannie Watts next year, exploring her midwifery practice in rural Victoria 1880-1920.

You’re hosting a dinner party. Which three historical figures are invited?

1. My great-great grandmother Hannah Jane ‘Grannie’ Watts obviously!

2. Mary Gilbert – the pregnant wife of blacksmith James, Mary was the only woman on the Enterprize, which landed in Port Phillip in August 1835.

3. Abraham Lincoln

History in the Making author in focus: David Taylor

History in the Making recently published David Taylor’s article about race and aesthetics in the nineteenth century portraits of Thomas Bock and Benjamin Duterrau.

David is a PhD candidate at the University of Tasmania, where he is writing a thesis about knowledge and information networks in eighteenth century Britain and Europe. He can be found at UTAS, LinkedIn, Academia.edu and Twitter.

Here, he describes his writing process, his experience of the peer review process at History in the Making, and his ideal dinner party.

What did you learn from the peer review process?

I gained an awful lot from the peer review process. For one, it opens your work up to constructive criticism. While you may feel that this kind of thing is a negative thing that you do not need, it’s important to remember that, at most times of your career in history, you will be asked to offer your work up for reading, debate, and criticism. Why not start with History in the Making, where you can get reviews from peers and fellow students, and learn from there? It also allows you to become familiar with the ongoing editing process. Many students come out of high school and into university without the important editing skills that make good work great. Editing is as important as the article itself. It can let down your work if it looks shabbily edited, or not edited at all, no matter how many references you make. Lastly, it taught me to work for reward. You need to set yourself goals as a researcher, and to have a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of publication, is a major bonus.

Why did you choose to study history?

I chose history as much as history chose me. From when I was a little boy, I was exposed to the wonders of history through documentaries and books. As a teenager, I would write fictitious histories of European kingdoms and write myself into their narratives. It might sound obsessive or strange, but I think now that it was history enacting itself through my learning, and vice versa. By writing early and writing a lot, it taught me to develop my thinking, reasoning, editing, and story-telling abilities. So early on, story-telling was as important to me as history itself. The two link together perfectly. Even if history is not your sole passion, it has a way of binding itself to your brain and making you think differently about so many areas of your life.

What’s your writing process?

My writing process is to continuously write. In previous times, I was very much a cerebral researcher, taking thousands of words of notes for an assignment that might be only 500-1000 words in length. That is fine for undergraduate work. When and if you come to postgraduate study, it is important to write continuously, because storing references in a master file or in your head will only get you so far before one or both explode. Writing continuously links to editing continuously, and by the end of a research project, you can be working with a large chunk of good text, instead of starting from scratch! Also, a good lecturer once told me to write up every book that came across my desk. Just write 100-200 words on it, so that you don’t forget later what you read or why you read it.

What’s your favourite history book?

My favourite history book would have to be The Embarrassment of Riches by Simon Schama. It is a study of wealth and culture in the Dutch Golden Age and it is what taught me that history writing doesn’t have to be boring, nor does it have to be strictly academic. The book subconsciously taught some of the most important elements of historical writing: a sharp eye for detail, meticulous research and referencing, and above all, a delivery method that captures the reader. Although I have wandered many different historical paths since first reading it, it is a book I return to in the course of many different investigations. It’s a sign of a good history book, that it becomes a reference guide to many different areas of your work.

Who is a historian you admire and why?

Again, I would return to Simon Schama. A reasonable amount of my lecturers over the course of my studies have crinkled their nose at the mention of his name, as if he were a glass of milk poured on the day of its expiry. I never understood their reaction. There is an unspoken disregard for historians who ‘go mainstream’, as if they’re somehow corrupting the discipline. What Schama has instilled in me is a belief that history is not just for academics and journals, but for everyone, to relate to and to learn from. It is our common heritage, the dirt beneath our feet and the words on the pages before our eyes. We must dust it off, lift it up, and make it presentable to the world, and we must do so with respect to history itself, and not to suit our own ends.

You’re hosting a dinner party. Which three historical figures are invited?

I think the first choice would have to be Rembrandt van Rijn, the famous Dutch Golden Age artist. Not only would be supply interesting conversation, he would also probably paint a quick portrait of our group for posterity. I’ve seen enough time travel movies to know these moments can easily be lost forever. Rembrandt is also highly enigmatic, with a magnetic force around his life and his work that has made or broken the careers of many historians and art historians. Along with him, I think I’d invite the topic of my PhD dissertation, Sir Andrew Mitchell, the British envoy to Prussia during the Seven Years’ War. Not only could this fill in much of my historical research, but he is also a diplomat highly skilled and informed in many different areas, and perhaps there would be no better placed person to enlighten me on the attitudes, beliefs, and world of the eighteenth century than him. His career also crossed paths with many eminent persons of that century, and so it would be like having a reference guide at the table. Having invited a seventeenth and an eighteenth century figure, my last guest would be a Roman, but for a fun evening, let’s go with Caligula. Many of the rumours and anecdotes surrounding the young emperor’s life have persisted for centuries, and while some may be true, many have been brought into question. His fiery determination and acute paranoia for security don’t seem to be in doubt, and also the rich cultural heritage of a young Roman Empire would be too much for my dinner guests to resist. Not only could we be entertained by stories of Rome, but the darker side of Rome would also be fantastic dinner conversation. Maybe we could finally resolve the debate over whether or not he made his horse a Roman consul! It’s in Rome and Greece, too, that my historical inspiration began, so all the more reason to invite this tarnished emperor.

New issue: Volume 4 Number 2

A new issue of History in the Making is out now

After months of painstaking effort by our authors, editors and reviewers, History in the Making is pleased to announce a new issue. In this issue, the journal maintains its high standard of inquisitive, thoughtful works by undergraduates, complemented and honed by a dedicated team of postgraduates.

Two articles in this issue exemplify the exciting and diverse source material available to undergraduate history students. Rebecca Hart provides a close analysis of death certificates, wills, obituaries and deceased estate files to reveal the very personal experiences of a Victorian family. Hart focuses on the experiences and relationships of prominent women within the family, and uncovers the rich stories that can be found in often-dry legal documents. David Taylor accesses interactions between white Tasmanians and indigenous Australians through Benjamin Duterrau and Thomas Bock’s portrayals of Truggernana, Mannalargenna, George Augustus Robinson and their contemporaries, concluding that there is more to these artworks than meets the eye.

Eighteenth and nineteenth century United States history remains a popular topic for our contributors. Hope Williams recounts the activities of abortionist Ann Lohman, known as ‘Madame Restell’, in nineteenth-century New York City. Her career, the controversy with which it was met, and the media coverage of that controversy, are evaluated as manifestations of contemporary social issues. Peter Harney also accesses the social issues that loomed large in the United States at the turn of the nineteenth century, by examining the transformation of punishment from physical violence to architectural power and surveillance. Harney places that transformation in a broader social context of disease, secularisation and industrialisation.

History in the Making continues to publish strong works examining early modern and ancient periods. Jennifer Lord explores the portrayal of female mystics by male and female hagiographers, to identify attitudes to gender in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. She concludes that these mystics were constructed in a way that accommodated their spirituality within existing power structures. Debbie Turkilsen reaches further back, closely examining the rhetorical devices used by Julius Caesar to persuade his audience in The Civil War. She reveals that the text is indeed rhetorical, intended to communicate Caesar’s attitude towards the controversial events described in his work.

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