Garcia's failures initially created an opening for the reemergence of the political right, which supported
the candidacy of independent novelist Mario Vargas Llosa in the 1990 general elections.  Vargas Llosa's
coalition, Fredemo, was based on the AP and PPC as well as new independent rightist sectors. Vargas
Llosa narrowly won the first round of balloting with 27.6% of the vote, but after a bitter and divisive
campaign characterized by racism on all sides and unprecedented levels of campaign spending on the
part of Fredemo, Vargas Llosa and his allies ultimately lost in a second round run off to a previous
political unknown, university professor Alberto Fujimori, 56.5% to 33.9%.
By the end of the 1990 campaign, the entire party system had been discredited, and outsider Fujimori
came to power with a popular campaign to replace traditional representative institutions and partisan
competition with mechanisms of  direct democracy .  Once in power, Fujimori applied extreme austerity
measures that successfully halted the hyperinflation and eventually restored steady economic growth.
From 1990 to 1992, Fujimori had to deal with an opposition Congress. In 1992, however, the Armed
Forces and a majority of Peruvians supported the President's decision to suspend constitutional rule,
close Congress and disband the Judiciary.  These actions, called a  self coup  (
auto golpe
), served as the
coup de grace for Peru's political parties, which have yet to recover popular support. The message from
the people was that the parties were thoroughly discredited, and that they were looking for more effective
government.
Armed Conflict and Democratic Transition
A curious phenomenon occurred in 1980. While almost all of the large but fractious political Left entered
the electoral arena, a small, and apparently insignificant faction of a Maoist dissident faction of the
Communist Party of Peru declared a  popular war  against the State. The dissident faction was called
 The Peruvian Communist Party   for the Shining Path of Mariategui,  commonly referred to as the
Shining Path or Sendero Luminoso. Sendero initiated its activities in the remote province of Ayacucho
and was founded and led by intellectuals, professors and students from the national university there.
Their first armed action was to destroy the ballot boxes in presidential elections of 1980. They were
extreme nihilists, committed to the need to terrorize and annihilate the state and its perceived
collaborators, including civilians, Leftist politicians, government officials, and almost all other groups
and individuals who stood in their path.
In 1980, the newly elected civilian government paid little attention to this obscure rebellion in the remote
Andes. President Belaunde was also reluctant, as Sendero had correctly predicted, to call out the troops
to repress their uprising so soon after the military had returned to the barracks. Yet Sendero would soon
spread its activities to other rural areas and into the coca growing zones in the eastern jungles. After two
years of inaction, Belaunde finally called out the troops and presided over a scorched earth strategy. The
repressive strategy seemed to entrench Sendero's position, underscoring how removed much of the sierra
and the jungles were from the politics and social life of Lima.
Many analysts found Sendero to be a difficult group to analyze. Its emergence under a democratic regime
  at precisely the moment of democratic transition   seemed to turn much of revolutionary theory on its
head. For some, its appearance in the remote rural Department of Ayacucho underscored the great
regional and ethnic differences that divided the country. The democratic transition, so profoundly
experienced in Lima and throughout much of the modern sector, did not speak directly to the long history
of exclusion and discrimination in the rural highlands. Clearly Sendero was able to take advantage of
these wide fissures in the Peruvian body politic. And in so doing, it and another smaller group, the
MRTA, came to present a serious challenge to the process of democratic transition begun in 1980. By
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