On Noche Buena – a day that should have revolved around family and celebration – Peruvians hit the streets to protest President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s pardon of former president Alberto Fujimori. Serving as president between July 1990 and November 2000, Fujimori received a 25-year jail sentence for his human rights abuses. Kuczynski, however, pardoned Fujimori because of his health issues, according to CNN. But for the many who were affected by his policies, including the forced sterilization of indigenous women and the assassinations and disappearances of many others, they see the pardon as a betrayal. As such, they have spent two days protesting Kuczynski’s highly unpopular decision.
The pardon comes after Kuczynski just narrowly missed impeachment. After accusations of illegally receiving $782,000 from Odebrecht, a part of Fujimori’s party abstained from voting, meaning there weren’t sufficient votes to remove him from office. This had led many to believe that the pardon was a part of quid pro quo agreement between Kuczynski and the Fujimoris, according to The New York Times.
Kuczynski has defended his decision, stating that Fujimori, who has tongue cancer and cardiac arrhythmia, should not “die in prison, because justice is not revenge.”
Fujimori, for his part, spoke out today and asked for forgiveness. “I am aware that the results during my government on one side were well received,” Fujimori said in a video. “On the other hand, I recognize that I have also disappointed other fellow Peruvians. I ask them to forgive me with all my heart.”
But for the many whose lives he upended and who are still living with the aftermath, his apology isn’t enough. Check out pictures from the powerful protests below: