PERU: An Emerging Caudillo

"Some people may tremble when they hear what I will say," warned Peruvian President Juan Velasco Alvarado before delivering his independence day speech last week. No one in his audience was inclined to take the remark lightly. After six years of rule by Velasco's left-leaning military junta, Peruvians have learned that whatever the mercurial general says generally goes.

Recently, Velasco, 64, has shown signs of being too sensitive for words —the words of an independent press, that is. In June, he closed down Lima's most respected weekly magazine, Caretas, and drove its...

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