Change '90

Peru Table of Contents

Cambio '90 only entered the Peruvian political spectrum in early 1990, but by June 1991 it was the most powerful political force in the nation. Cambio's success hinged largely on the success of its candidate for the presidency, Alberto Fujimori, an agricultural engineer and rector of the National Agrarian University (Universidad Nacional Agrario--UNA) in Lima's La Molina District from 1984 to 1989. Fujimori's appeal to a large extent was his standing as a political outsider.

At the same time, Cambio's success was also attributed largely to its eclectic political base and its active grassroots campaign. Cambio's two main bases of support were the Peruvian Association of Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses (Asociación Peruana de Empresas Medias y Pequeñas--Apemipe) and the informal sector workers who associated their cause with Apemipe, and the evangelical movement. Less than 4 percent of the Peruvian population was Protestant, but the Evangelicals were extremely active at the grassroots level, particularly in areas where traditional parties were weak, such as the urban shantytowns and rural areas in the Sierra. Although Cambio only began activities in January 1990, by the time of the elections it had 200,000 members in its ranks.

However, Cambio's success at the polls did not translate into a lasting party machinery. Cambio was much more of a front than a political party, and its ability to hold together was called into question within a few weeks after attaining power. Cambio's two bases of support had little in common with each other except opposition to Vargas Llosa. Their links to Fujimori were quite recent and were ruptured to a large extent when Fujimori opted, out of necessity, for an orthodox economic shock program. Less than six months into his government, Fujimori broke with many of his Cambio supporters, including the second vice president and leader of the Evangelical Movement, Carlos García y García, and Apemipe. The latter became disenchanted with Fujimori because small businesses were threatened by the dramatic price rises and opening to foreign competition that the "Fujishock" program entailed.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress