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Economist Denies Fujimori Coup Role

April 2, 2002

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LIMA, Peru (AP) _ A noted economist on Monday denied allegations that he had helped ex-president Alberto Fujimori prepare to seize dictatorial powers 10 years ago.

Hernando de Soto said he had resigned as Fujimori’s adviser several months before the so-called ``self-coup″ in 1992.

Fujimori dissolved Peru’s Congress and judiciary branch in an effort to crack down on a surging guerrilla movement and root out rampant government corruption. The move was widely supported in Peru, but criticized abroad as undemocratic.

De Soto heads the Lima-based Institute for Liberty and Democracy, which advises governments on economic development and combatting poverty. He received international acclaim for his 2000 book ``The Mystery of Capital,″ which proposes encouraging growth in developing economies by granting property rights to the disenfranchised poor.

A congressional investigator said over the weekend that Fujimori’s ex-spy chief and top adviser Vladimiro Montesinos, who is now jailed on dozens of corruption charges, had testified that de Soto helped devise the coup.

De Soto told the Radioprogramas radio station that Fujimori’s government had contacted him three weeks after the coup for help in dealing with the international rejection of the measure. He said he had tried to convince Fujimori ``that instead of continuing with the new government he had inaugurated,″ he should restore democracy.

Fujimori won re-election in 1995, but his administration became increasingly authoritarian. Just months after he won a second re-election in 2000, Fujimori’s government imploded under a corruption scandal involving Montesinos.

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