Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|Term of Office:||July 28, 2001 – Present|
|Predecessor:||Valentín Paniagua Corazao|
|Date of Birth:||March 28, 1946|
|Place of Birth:||Ancash|
|First Lady :||Eliane Karp|
|Political party:||Perú Posible|
Alejandro Celestino Toledo Manrique (born 28 March 1946) is the current President of Peru. He was elected in 2001, after leading the opposition against Alberto Fujimori, who held the presidency from 1990 to 2000. Toledo is married to the French anthropologist Eliane Karp.
Toledo was one of sixteen children of a family of Native American campesinos in the small town of Cabana, province of Pallasca, Ancash region. He grew up in Chimbote, a city on Peru's northern coast. His father was a bricklayer and his mother was a fishmonger. As a child, he worked as a shoeshine boy.
Toledo studied at the local state school, G.U.E. San Pedro. At age 16, with the guidance of members of the Peace Corps, Toledo enrolled at the University of San Francisco on a one-year scholarship. He completed his bachelor's degree in economics by obtaining a partial soccer scholarship and working part-time pumping gas. Later on, he completed his Ph.D in economics and human resources at Stanford University. He then became a professor of Economics in the Universidad del Pacifico in Peru.
Over the past 20 years, Toledo has worked as a consultant for various international organizations, including the United Nations, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). He has also been a regular professor at ESAN , Peru's leading Business School. From 1991 to 1994, he was an affiliated researcher in the field of international development at the Harvard Institute for International Development . Toledo was also guest professor at the University of Waseda and the Japan Foundation in Tokyo.
Among Toledo's publications are works on economic growth and on structural reforms. However, his latest book, Las Cartas sobre la mesa, describes his political career which led him to found the party Perú Posible ("Peru Possible").
Toledo entered politics as an independent candidate for the presidency in the 1995 election, in which Alberto Fujimori was ultimately re-elected. He founded the Peru Possible party in 1999 and declared his intent to run in the 2000 election. Despite a constitutional ban on his serving a third term, Fujimori was once again a candidate in 2000. Toledo was nicknamed El Cholo and Fujimori, El Chino. The incumbent defeated Toledo, amid widespread allegations of electoral fraud. Toledo petitioned to have the election annulled, but in November 2000, amid growing allegations of fraud and corruption within his administration, Fujimori fled to Japan, where he claimed Japanese citizenship and officially resigned the presidency.
After the fall of Fujimori, the president of the Peruvian Congress, Valentín Paniagua, became interim president and called for new elections on May 29 2001. Toledo won after a close run-off election with former president Alan García of the APRA party. His margin of victory was slim (52.5% vs 47.5%), particularly in light of García's largely repudiated earlier presidential term (1985 to 1990). Toledo's inauguration took place on 28 July 2001.
The Toledo presidency
Since coming to power, the Toledo administration has been plagued by ongoing civil unrest and civic discontent, due primarily to the continuing stagnation of the Peruvian economy, which the current government's economic policies have failed to assuage. In his electoral campaigns, Toledo promised "a break with the past", in particular with the deeply corrupt cronyism and institutionalized patronage of the Fujimori regime. But many of the rank and file of Peru Possible joined the party with the hope of a job, and to stifle discontent within the ranks Toledo has been forced to open civil-service positions to party members, an obvious step backward.
In June 2002, the southern city of Arequipa was paralyzed for a week by strikes and riots in protest of the privatization of two regional electricity generating plants, the largest civil unrest in Peru for fifty years. The government had underestimated local resistance and was forced in the end to rescind the privatizations. The affair sent a clear message to the Toledo administration that its policies are highly unpopular. Despite macroeconomic growth (4.9% for 2002), Peru remains very poor indeed, with more than fifty percent of the population living in poverty, and fifteen percent in extreme poverty.
Toledo has also been plagued by controversies and scandals. Initially, his salary was pegged at USD18,000 per month, but this generated a huge outcry in a country where schoolteachers earn $100-$200 per month, and he later claimed it was reduced to $12,000. In 2002, after steadfastly denying it, he was forced to acknowledge the existence of illegitimate daughter, Zarai, then aged 13. In July 2004, in response to allegations of corruption, Toledo invited government auditors to examine his bank accounts. In March 2005, another political storm arose, this time over whether his party, Perú Posible, with his blessing, forged thousands of signatures to register for the 2000 elections. A police report determined that 78 percent of the signatures were false; his sister, currently under house arrest, is accused of running a "forgery factory". Toledo finally agreed to talk to congressman Rafael Rey and other legislators investigating the matter after causing an outcry by ducking out of a planned meeting because he refused to have it recorded, and instead giving a television interview denying everything. The issue has become the most serious scandal of his presidency. 
When he was sworn into office in July 2001, Toledo had the support of 59% of the population. As of March 2005, his popularity is down to 8%  — the lowest popularity rating of any South American president.
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