Interim President of Peru
President of a United Government and National Reconciliation
November 22 2000 – July 282001
|Preceded by||Alberto Fujimori|
|Succeeded by||Alejandro Toledo|
|Born|| September 23, 1936|
|Died|| October 16, 2006 (aged 70)|
|Political party||Acción Popular|
|Alma mater|| National University of San Antonio Abad in Cuzco|
San Marcos University
Valentín Paniagua Corazao (September 23, 1936 – October 16, 2006) was a Peruvian politician and former Interim President of Peru. Paniagua was elected by the Peruvian Congress to serve as interim president of the country after Alberto Fujimori was declared Morally Unfit by Peruvian Congress in November 2000.
As Interim President, his main task was to organize new elections, after which, in July 2001, he stood down from the presidency. Paniagua was a long time member and served as Secretary General of Acción Popular.
Paniagua's father was born in Bolivia but lived most of his life in Peru. Valentín Paniagua was born in Cusco and attended high school at Salesian School of Cusco. Then, he went on to study law at the Universidad Nacional San Antonio Abad in Cuzco and later at the Universidad Mayor de San Marcos in Lima. He finished there, specializing in constitutional law. In the following years, he worked in his private practice as a lawyer and started a political career.
In August 1955, as a student leader, he was one of the founders of the Frente Universitario Reformista Independiente, a social-Christian reform organization, opposed to landowners' rights, to the communists and to the APRA. Paniagua became a member of the Christian Democratic Party (PDC), which was best aligned to his Roman Catholic and reformist ideals.
In June 1963 he was elected to Congress as a representative for Cuzco in the joint list of Acción Popular (AP) and PDC, an alliance that catapulted the leader of AP, Fernando Belaúnde, to the presidency of the country. Despite Paniagua's youth, Belaúnde appointed him Minister of Justice and Cult in his first government.
In 1966, a section of the PDC led by the then-mayor of Lima, Luis Bedoya Reyes, cut ties with the leadership of Héctor Cornejo Chávez and founded the Partido Popular Cristiano (PPC). However, Paniagua remained in the ranks of the government.
The coup d'état of General Juan Velasco on October 3, 1968, took Paniagua out of Congress and for some years he was left out of politics. His loyalty to the constitutional legality of Belaúnde led him to abandon the PDC on July 27, 1974, in protest of its acceptance of the military government. Some time later he became a member of AP, and kept on a civil protest against Velasco and his 1975 successor, General Francisco Morales Bermúdez.
In July 1982, after being part of the Constitutional Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, he became president of the Chamber of Deputies.
The defeat of AP in the April 14, 1985 elections and arrival to power of Alan García's APRA sent Paniagua to the opposition. Over the following five years he remained a strong foe of the government and worked as a prestigious lawyer in academic and political circles, as well as a professor of constitutional law at the universities of San Marcos, Femenina del Sagrado Corazón and Pontificia Católica.
In the national elections of 1990, together with most of Acción Popular, Paniagua supported the candidacy of Mario Vargas Llosa for president. When Alberto Fujimori was elected President, Paniagua was part of the opposition, but became a strong opponent after Fujimori's auto-coup in April 1992.
Elected once again in the controversial national elections of 2000, he was a prominent member of the opposition. A political scandal broke on September 14, 2000, forcing Fujimori's regime to allow an OAS mission to deal with the political crisis. On November 15, 2000, a majority of the Congress dismissed the acting President of the Peruvian Congress (a member of Fujimori's Party). After an internal discussion among the political forces, including Fujimori's Party (Perú 2000), Paniagua was elected new President of the Peruvian Congress. He was elected because all policital parties considered him to have a fair but strong character, needed in such times of crisis.
A few days later, Alberto Fujimori resigned to the Presidency. According to constitutional rules of succession, the First Vice President -Francisco Tudela- should take office, but he had resigned a few days before. Also,the Second Vice-president Ricardo Márquez was forced to resign, since the opposition considerated him a hard-liner Fujimorista. Therefore, as acting President of Congress and next in the line of succession, Valentin Paniagua took office as interim President of the country.
One of his first actions as president was the appointment of Javier Pérez de Cuéllar as Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, in order to avoid the increasing political pressure from the different political parties. He also called for general elections in order to elect a new President.
Another action was the establishment of a Unity and National Reconciliation Government that received the support of almost all the political parties of the time. He then proceeded to form a moderate government cabinet, which involved non-partisan technologists and low-profile politicians. Also, he proceeded with the removal of the military commanders who had had any type of involvement or political connection with Vladimiro Montesinos.
Paniagua had to work with Fujimori's Perú 2000 party in Congress, since they still were the most important political organization (even though it no longer had a majority). Also, during most of his period, an important number of the infamous Vladivideos were published and investigated, since most of them recorded acts of corruption involving politicians, members of the clergy and important businessmen.
Paniagua also was involved in the revokation of much of the anti-terrorist legislation enforced by Fujimori, which allowed re-trial of several members of Shining Path already in prison on civilian courts instead of military ones. In order to calm public opinion, he had claimed that this would only involve low-level convicted insurgents, and not the core of this organization (like Abimael Guzmán, leader of Shining Path and currently serving a life sentence in prison). Paniagua also established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the internal conflict in Peru.
Later years and death
When his time as president of the republic came to an end, he transferred the government to the democratically elected president and winner of the national elections of 2001, Alejandro Toledo. In the same year, he was elected secretary general of Acción Popular, replacing Fernando Belaúnde as national leader of the political organization.
For a brief period of time, it was speculated that the Peruvian government would support his candidacy for secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS) in the 2005 secretary general election. He declined this in order to participate in the 2006 election, as Frente de Centro's presidential candidate in an unsuccessful campaign, in which he came in fifth place, receiving 5.75% of the vote.
On 21 August 2006, he fell seriously ill and was hospitalized for a week with a respiratory infection. A congressman wrongly reported that he died and Congress took a moment of silence in his honor, but he had not died and his health had in fact improved. However, in early October 2006, the country learned from a medical spokesperson that Mr. Paniagua's condition had not improved significantly.
- ↑ (English) [http://www.clubmadrid.org The Club of Madrid is an independent organization dedicated to strengthening democracy around the world by drawing on the unique experience and resources of its Members – 66 democratic former heads of state and government. ]
- ↑ "Peru's ex-President Paniagua dies". BBC News. 2006-10-16. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6056166.stm. Retrieved 2006-10-16.
- ↑ "Valentín Paniagua, 69, Leader of Peru After Fall of Fujimori, Dies" October 18, 2006 The New York Times
- (Spanish)Biography by CIDOB Foundation
- Article by Angus Reid Consultants dated April 21, 2005: Paniagua, García Top Candidates In Peru
- Guardian obituary, 18 October 2006
- Valentín Paniagua dies (from El Comercio, in Spanish)
|President of the Chamber of Deputies|
July 1983 – July 1984
| Succeeded by|
Pattricio Ricketts Rey de Castro
|Minister of Education|
April 1984 – October 1984
| Succeeded by|
Andrés Alfonso Cardo Franco
|President of Congress|
| Succeeded by|
|'President of Peru' (President of a Unity and National Reconciliation Government)|
November 2000 – July 2001
| Succeeded by|
|General Secretary of Acción Popular|
August 2001 – 2006
| Succeeded by|
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