He worked in the bowels of the Fujimori dictatorship, has described the protests as a “terrorist insurgency” and was appointed by Dina Boluarte this week.
The Government of Dina Boluarte this week appointed Juan Carlos Liendo O’Connor as Peru’s new head of Intelligence, a strategic position for a management that since his inauguration has faced massive protests and calls for his resignation.
The resolution of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, signed by President Dina Boluarte and Prime Minister Pedro Angulo, was ratified this Monday and is not just any appointment.
The official who succeeds Wilson Barrantes Mendoza in the position has a resume that among its most relevant milestones includes having worked in the intelligence services between 1991 and 1998, that is, during the dictatorship of Alberto Fujimori.
Although with a lower-ranking position in the National Intelligence Service of Peru (SIN) during that time, the retired colonel had decision-making power and now returns as the top chief of the National Intelligence Directorate (DINI), while the complaints intensify against the Armed Forces and the Police due to the repression of the protests calling for the release of Pedro Castillo and the departure of Boluarte.
The designation occurs almost simultaneously with the visit to Peru by a technical delegation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which has already issued a statement rejecting the violence against the protesters and demanding that the State establish responsibilities for more than two dozen deaths.
However, Liendo O’Connor’s position regarding the mobilizations is, to say the least, controversial. Before being appointed to the post, he assured that the protests were a sign of a “terrorist insurgency”, in line with the practice of criminalization that in Peru is popularly known as “terruqueo”.
This political practice, which consists of linking any popular demand with terrorism to try to delegitimize it, is very well assumed by the new head of DINI. “If you want to address the facts that we are seeing as a social conflict, we are in total error. Here there are no social conflicts. There is not even vandalism. They are exercises of violence with a very clear political agenda: constituent assembly, Boluarte’s resignation and the closure of Congress,” he told local media just before taking office.
Before being appointed to the post, Liendo O’Connor assured that the protests were a sign of “terrorist insurgency”, in line with the practice of criminalization that in Peru is popularly known as “terruqueo”.
In fact, for him, the protests that have caused the death of more than 20 people in the last two weeks are “instigated by terrorism“, for which he has unequivocally defended the repressive role of the public force. “I have been pleasantly able to appreciate a trained, disciplined Army, acting efficiently with the use of weapons,” he said in this regard.
The closeness of Liendo O’Connor with Fujimori and Vladimiro Montesinos –both imprisoned for crimes against humanity– has not gone unnoticed by the political opposition. The leader of Perú Libre, Vladimir Cerrón, denounced on Monday that the appointment of Boluarte demonstrated his connection with the most conservative sectors of the country, despite the fact that the current president had come to power with the support of sectors of the left.
“Boluarte won for anti-Fujimorismo, but his Cabinet is totally Fujimorismo, his DINI is fujimorista, an option that the people rejected with their vote in 2021, but the losers are in power after a 180-degree political turn. It is clear that a coup d’état took place,” Cerrón warned.
Boluarte won for anti-Fujimorismo, but his Cabinet is totally Fujimorismo, his DINI is Fujimorismo, an option that the people rejected with their vote in 2021, but the losers are in power after a 180-degree political turn. It is clear that there was a coup.
— Vladimir Cerrón (@VLADIMIR_CERRON) December 20, 2022
The president, for her part, defended the appointment of her new signing. “He seems to me to be a proven person. I did not know him before, he has been recommended to me, I interviewed him, yesterday [sábado 17 de diciembre]we have talked I think he is a very suitable personknows a lot about intelligence and, at this moment, from the DINI we need to work and verify the issue of intelligence at the national level,” Boluarte said last Sunday, in an interview with a local media outlet.
However, a year ago, Liendo O’Connor did not show the same courtesy to the movement that brought Pedro Castillo to power and that, by default, put Boluarte in the ministerial cabinet.
In a interview Published in mid-2021, the now head of the DINI condemned the mobilizations called by Peru Libre to demand respect for the result of the elections that Castillo had won, calling them “emotional manipulation” to impose the popular will “like a dictatorship”.
In addition to his well-known passage through the sewers of Fujimorism and his open rejection of popular mobilizations in Peru, Liendo O’Connor is a retired Army colonel who works as a consultant in Latin America on security issues, social conflict and violence, conflict management, risks and disaster care.
In his military career, he held positions as an Intelligence officer and professor at the School of Command and General Staff of the Peruvian Army in Military Intelligence, History and Military Strategy. Between 2004 and 2005, he was in charge of the artillery battalion in the town of Imacita, Bagua province, and between 2007 and 2009, he led the Army Intelligence Service.
Now the controversial retired soldier places himself under the orders of Boluarte at a key moment for the Government, while the left –historically “terruqueada”– turns to the streets to demand elections and the resignation of all the authorities, and Castillo, from the prison, cries out for his freedom.
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