Fernando Belaúnde Terry
Fernando Belaúnde Terry (October 7, 1912 – June 4, 2002) was President of Peru for two non-consecutive terms (1963–1968 and 1980–1985). Deposed by a military coup in 1968, he was re-elected in 1980 after eleven years of military rule. During both terms, economic turbulence and the increase of terrorist activities in the country led to human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 violations by both insurgents and the Peruvian armed forces
Military of Peru
The Peruvian Armed Forces are the military services of Peru, comprising independent Army, Navy and Air Force components. Their primary mission is to safeguard the country's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity against any threat...

. Nevertheless, he was recognized for his personal integrity and his commitment to the democratic
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...


Early years

The second of four children, Belaúnde was born in Lima
Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central part of the country, on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima...

 into an upper-class family of Spanish forebears. His father, Rafael Belaúnde Diez Canseco, a teacher, served as President of the Council of Ministers; his grandfather was a finance minister
Ministry of Economy and Finance (Peru)
The Ministry of Economy and Finance of Peru is the entity in charge of the planning and execution of the economic policies of the Peruvian Government with the goal of optimizing the economic and financial activities of the state, establish macroeconomic activity, and achieve the sustainable growth...

; and one of his great-grandfathers
Pedro Diez Canseco
Pedro Diez Canseco Corbacho was a Peruvian soldier and politician who became interim President of Peru on three occasions: 1863, 1865 and 1868.-See also:* List of Presidents of Peru...

 was a President of the Republic.

During the dictatorship of Augusto B. Leguía, the persecution for the political activities of his father Rafael and his uncle Víctor Andrés Belaúnde
Víctor Andrés Belaúnde
Víctor Andrés Belaúnde Diez Canseco was a Peruvian diplomat who chaired the Fourteenth session and the fourth emergency special session of the United Nations General Assembly .Victor Andrés Belaúnde was born in Arequipa, Peru...

 prompted the family to move to France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 in 1924, where Fernando attended high school and received his initial University education in engineering.

From 1930 to 1935, Belaúnde studied architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, where he first attended the University of Miami
University of Miami
The University of Miami is a private, non-sectarian university founded in 1925 with its main campus in Coral Gables, Florida, a medical campus in Miami city proper at Civic Center, and an oceanographic research facility on Virginia Key., the university currently enrolls 15,629 students in 12...

 (where his father was also teaching), and in 1935 transferred to the University of Texas at Austin
University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin is a state research university located in Austin, Texas, USA, and is the flagship institution of the The University of Texas System. Founded in 1883, its campus is located approximately from the Texas State Capitol in Austin...

, where he obtained his degree as an architect. He later moved to Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and worked as an architect for a brief time, but returned to Peru in 1936 and started his professional career as an architect designing private homes. In 1937, he started a magazine called El Arquitecto Peruano ("Peruvian Architect"), which dealt with interior design, general urbanism and housing problems the country was facing. This also gave way to the Architects Association of Peru and the Urbanism Institute of Peru.

As a result, Belaúnde also became a government public-housing consultant throughout the country and abroad. In 1943, Belaúnde began teaching architecture and urban planning
Urban planning
Urban planning incorporates areas such as economics, design, ecology, sociology, geography, law, political science, and statistics to guide and ensure the orderly development of settlements and communities....

 at Escuela Nacional de Ingenieros of Lima and later became the dean of the Civil Engineering and Architecture department. Belaúnde also directed the construction, along with other professors and students, of the faculty of architecture
National University of Engineering Faculty of Architecture
The Faculty of Architecture, Urbanism and Arts is one of the eleven constituent faculties of the National University of Engineering located in Lima, Peru. It was founded in 1910 as the Special Section of Builders Architects making it the first school of architecture to be established in Peru...

 of the National University of Engineering
National University of Engineering
The National University of Engineering is a public engineering and science university located in the Rímac District of Lima, Peru.-History:...

 in 1955.

Political career

Belaúnde's political career began in 1944 as cofounder of the National Democratic Front
National Democratic Front (Peru)
National Democratic Front was a political party in Peru that was founded in 1945 in Arequipa by Manuel J. Bustamante de la Fuente. Future president Fernando Belaúnde Terry was also present during the party's foundation. The party later formed an alliance with APRA and the Peruvian Communist Party,...

 party which elected José Bustamante
José Bustamante y Rivero
José Luis Bustamante y Rivero was a lawyer, writer, politician, diplomat, President of Peru from 1945 to 1948 and President of the International Court of Justice in The Hague from 1967 to 1969.- Early years :...

 as President in 1945; he served in the Peruvian Congress until a coup by General Manuel Odría
Manuel A. Odría
Manuel Arturo Odría Amoretti was the President of Peru from 1948 to 1956.Manuel Odría was born in 1897 in Tarma, a city in the central Andes just east of Lima. He graduated first in his class from the Chorillos Military Academy in 1915. He joined the army and as a lieutenant-colonel was a war...

 in 1948 interrupted democratic elections.

Belaúnde would return to the political arena in 1956, when the outgoing Odría dictatorship called for elections and he led the slate submitted by the "National Front of Democratic Youth", an organization formed by reform-minded university students, some of which had studied under him; his principled support for the "La Prensa" newspaper, which had been closed down by the dictatorship in early 1956, had prompted the leadership of the National Front to approach him as to lead its slate.

"El Manguerazo"

He gained notoriety on June 1 of the same year when, after the national election board refused to accept his candidacy filing, he led a massive protest that became known as the "manguerazo" or "hosedown" from the powerful water cannons used by the police to repress the demonstrators. When the confrontation looked to turn violent, Belaúnde showed the gift for symbolism that would serve him well throughout his political life; calming down the demonstrators and armed solely with a Peruvian flag, he crossed alone the gap separating the demonstrators from the police to deliver an ultimatum to the police chief that his candidacy be accepted.

The government capitulated, and the striking image of Belaúnde walking by himself with the flag was featured by the news magazine Caretas
Caretas is a weekly newsmagazine published in Lima, Peru, renowned for its investigative journalism. It was founded in October 1950 by Doris Gibson and Francisco Igartua....

the following day, in an article entitled "Así Nacen Los Lideres" ("This is how Leaders are Born").

Opposition to Manuel Prado

Belaúnde's 1956 candidacy was ultimately unsuccessful, as the dictatorship-favored right-wing candidacy of Manuel Prado took first place. Claiming irregularities, he prepared to lead the opposition, and in July 1956 in Chincheros, Cuzco
Cusco Region
Cusco is a region in Peru. It is bordered by the Ucayali Region on the north; the Madre de Dios and Puno regions on the east; the Arequipa Region on the south; and the Apurímac, Ayacucho and Junín regions on the west...

, founded the Acción Popular party, claiming the mantle of recapturing indigenous Inca traditions of community and cooperation in a modern social democratic context, placing itself squarely between the pro-oligarchy right-wing and the radicalism of the left-wing APRA and communist parties.

He would go on to travel extensively throughout the country, fleshing out the ideological principles of Acción Popular, while leading the opposition. During this period Belaúnde's traditionalism would manifest itself in dramatic flourishes, most notoriously when he challenged to a duel a Pradista congressman who refused to retract insulting statements in an open letter; the duel took place, with minor scratches on both sides.

In 1959, the Prado government's refusal to authorize the permits for Accion Popular annual convention led to another confrontation: Belaúnde led the opening of the convention in defiance of the prohibition, and the Prado government arrested and jailed him in the Alcatraz-like island prison of El Frontón
El Frontón
El Frontón is an island off the coast of Callao, Peru.For much of El Frontón's history, the island was used as a prison. Fernando Belaúnde Terry, who was twice president of Peru, was imprisoned on the island as a political prisoner. During his imprisonment, Belaúnde Terry made an unsuccessful...

 off the Lima coast. The imprisonment lasted 12 days, during which Belaúnde engaged in a failed attempt to escape by swimming to freedom; the Prado government, facing unrelenting public pressure, was forced to release him and drop all charges.

1962 and 1963

Belaúnde ran for president once again in the general elections of 1962, this time with his own party, Acción Popular. The results were very tight; he ended in second place, following Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre
Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre
Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre was a Peruvian political leader who founded the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance political movement.-Life:Haya de la Torre was born in the northern Peruvian city of Trujillo...

American Popular Revolutionary Alliance
The Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana is a centre-left Peruvian political party.At the legislative elections held on 9 April 2006, the party won 22.6% of the popular vote and 36 out of 120 seats in the Congress of the Republic...

), by less than 14000 votes. Since none of the candidates managed to get the Constitutionally-established minimum of one third of the vote required to win outright, selection of the President would fall to Congress; the long-held antagonistic relationship between the military and APRA prompted Haya de la Torre to make a deal with former dictator Odría, who had come in third, which would result in Odría taking the Presidency in a coalition government.

However, widespread allegations of fraud prompted the Peruvian military to depose Prado and install a military junta, led by Ricardo Pérez Godoy
Ricardo Pérez Godoy
Ricardo Pío Pérez Godoy was a general of the Peruvian army who launched a coup d'état in July 1962 and headed a military junta until March 1963....

. Pérez Godoy ran a short transitional government and held new elections in 1963, which were won by Belaúnde by a more comfortable but still narrow five percent margin.

First presidency (1963-1968)

During Belaúnde's first term in office, he spurred numerous developmental projects. These included the Carretera Marginal de la Selva, a much-needed highway linking Chiclayo on the Pacific coast with then isolated northern regions of Amazonas
Amazonas Region
Amazonas is a department of northern Peru bordered by Ecuador on the north and west, Cajamarca Department on the west, La Libertad Department on the south, and Loreto Department and San Martín Department on the east. Its capital is the city of Chachapoyas....

 and San Martín
San Martín Region
San Martín is a region in northern Peru. Most of the region is located in the upper part of the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. Its capital is Moyobamba and the largest city in the region is Tarapoto.-Boundaries:* North and East: Loreto Region...


He also advanced the ambitious Santiago Antunez de Mayolo and Chira Piura irrigation projects, and the Tinajones, Jequetepeque, Majes, Chavimochic, Olmos, Chinecas hydroelectric projects. Belaúnde also oversaw the establishment of the Peruvian National Bank (Banco de la Nación). To alleviate poverty, Belaúnde also promoted a program of "social interest" homes in Lima and other cities, which benefited dozen thousands of families. However, his administration was also blamed for making bad economic decisions, and by 1967 the sol
Peruvian sol
The sol, was the currency of Peru between 1863 and 1985. It had the ISO 4217 currency code PEH. It was subdivided into 10 dineros or 100 centavos.-History:...

 was seriously devaluated
Devaluation is a reduction in the value of a currency with respect to those goods, services or other monetary units with which that currency can be exchanged....


In August 1968, the Belaúnde Administration announced the settlement of a long-standing dispute with a subsidiary of Standard Oil of New Jersey over claims to the rich La Brea and Pariñas oil
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 fields. However, widespread anger about Belaúnde's decision to pay the Standard Oil compensation for handing over the installation to Peru forced his cabinet to resign on October 1.

A further cause of anger was the fact that the document of agreement was given by Belaunde to the press with the final page eleven missing and signatures were squeezed at the bottom of page ten. The missing page eleven became a cause célèbre and was later shown on television containing the contribution that Belaúnde had promised to pay. Several days later, Belaúnde himself was removed from office by a military coup.

Exile and return to democracy of dictatorial form

Belaúnde spent the next decade in the United States, teaching at Harvard and other universities including the George Washington University. Meanwhile, the radical military regime established by General Velasco instituted sweeping but ill-fated reforms. In April 1980, with Peru's economy in deep depression, the military administration permitted an election for the restoration of constitutional rule. Belaúnde won a five-year term, polling an impressive 45 percent of the vote in a 15-man contest.

Second presidency (1980-1985)

One of his first actions as President was the return of several newspapers to their respective owners. In this way, freedom of speech
Freedom of speech
Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used...

 once again played an important part in Peruvian politics. Gradually, he attempted to undo some of the most radical effects of the Agrarian Reform initiated by Velasco, and reversed the independent stance that the Military Government of Velasco had with the United States.

At the outbreak of the 1982 Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

 between Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 and Britain, Belaúnde declared that "Peru was ready to support Argentina with all the resources it needed." This included a number of fighter planes from the Peruvian Air Force
Peruvian Air Force
The Peruvian Air Force is the branch of the Peruvian Armed Forces tasked with defending the nation and its interests through the use of air power...

, ships
Peruvian Navy
The Peruvian Navy is the branch of the Peruvian Armed Forces tasked with surveillance, patrol and defense on lakes, rivers and the Pacific Ocean up to 200 nautical miles from the Peruvian littoral...

, and medical teams. Belaunde's government proposed a peace settlement between the two countries, but the Argentine military junta rejected it and the British launched an attack on the Argentinian forces deployed around the islands. In response to Chile's support of Britain, Belaúnde called for Latin American unity.

In domestic policy, he continued with many of the projects that were planned during his first term, including the completion of what is considerated his most important legacy, the Carretera Marginal de la Selva, a much-needed roadway linking Chiclayo
Chiclayo is the capital city of the Lambayeque region in northern Peru. It is located 13 kilometers inland from the Pacific coast and 770 kilometers from the nation's capital, Lima...

 on the Pacific coast with then isolated northern regions of Amazonas and San Martín
San Martín Region
San Martín is a region in northern Peru. Most of the region is located in the upper part of the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. Its capital is Moyobamba and the largest city in the region is Tarapoto.-Boundaries:* North and East: Loreto Region...


After a promising beginning, Belaúnde's popularity eroded under the stress of inflation, economic hardship, and terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

: per capita income
Per capita income
Per capita income or income per person is a measure of mean income within an economic aggregate, such as a country or city. It is calculated by taking a measure of all sources of income in the aggregate and dividing it by the total population...

 declined, Peru's foreign debt burgeoned, and violence by leftist insurgents (notably Shining Path
Shining Path
Shining Path is a Maoist guerrilla terrorist organization in Peru. The group never refers to itself as "Shining Path", and as several other Peruvian groups, prefers to be called the "Communist Party of Peru" or "PCP-SL" in short...

) rose steadily during the internal conflict in Peru
Internal conflict in Peru
It has been estimated that nearly 70,000 people died in the internal conflict in Peru that started in 1980 and, although still ongoing, had greatly wound down by 2000. The principal actors in the war were the Shining Path , the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement and the government of Peru.A great...

, which was launched the day before Belaúnde was elected in 1980.

Regarding Shining Path, Belaúnde personally did not pay too much attention to this: insurgent movements were already active during his first term, but without much support. In addition, some government officials and insurgents were subsequently accused of human rights violations, and a state of emergency
State of emergency
A state of emergency is a governmental declaration that may suspend some normal functions of the executive, legislative and judicial powers, alert citizens to change their normal behaviours, or order government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans. It can also be used as a rationale...

 was promulgated in the Ayacucho
Ayacucho is the capital city of Huamanga Province, Ayacucho Region, Peru.Ayacucho is famous for its 33 churches, which represent one for each year of Jesus's life. Ayacucho has large religious celebrations, especially during the Holy Week of Easter...

 and Apurímac
Apurímac Region
Apurímac is a region in southern-central Peru. It is bordered on the east by the Cusco Region, on the west by the Ayacucho Region, and on the south by the Arequipa and Ayacucho regions...


During the next years, the economic problems left over from the Military Government persisted, worsened by an occurrence of the "El Niño" weather phenomenon in 1982–83, which caused widespread flooding in some parts of the country, severe droughts in others, and sharply reduced the schools of ocean fish that are one of the country's major resources.

Later years

During the national elections of 1985, Belaúnde's Party, Acción Popular, was defeated by APRA candidate Alan García. However, as established in the 1979 Constitution, he would go on to serve in the Peruvian Senate as Senador Vitalicio ("senator for life
Senator for life
A senator for life is a member of the senate or equivalent upper chamber of a legislature who has life tenure. , 7 Italian Senators out of 322, 4 out of the 47 Burundian Senators and all members of the British House of Lords have lifetime tenure...

"), a privilege for former Presidents abolished by the 1993 Constitution.

Belaúnde died in Lima in 2002 at age 89 with the most spectacular funeral ever held for a former President in the country's history. Thousands of admirers flooded the streets of Lima to pay their final respects to the man many considered the father of Peru's modern democracy.

Further reading

  • Peru's Own Conquest by Fernando Belaúnde Terry (translated by David A. Robinson)
  • Inside South America by John Gunther
    John Gunther
    John Gunther was an American journalist and author whose success came primarily in the 1940s and 1950s with a series of popular sociopolitical works known as the "Inside" books...

  • Peru: A Country Study, published by the United States Library of Congress

External links

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