|This article originally appeared in
|Peru's president engaged
in the politics of love
|By ERIC J. LYMAN
| March 10, 1996
Lima's most eligible new bachelor is powerful, popular -- and the
Alberto Fujimori, his divorce papers fresh in hand, has made no secret
of his search for a new mate ... preferably, in his words, "an
intelligent woman with good legs."
Peruvians are eager to see who fits the bill.
The latest speculation has revolved around Chabeli Iglesias, a Miami TV
talk show host and daughter of Spanish crooner Julio Iglesias. Fujimori
recently served as her tour guide during a two-day trip to Peru's
"Why don't you marry the girl?" asked a peasant woman who sold fish to
the pair on the Uros Islands of Lake Titicaca.
A red-faced Fujimori coyly whispered something in Chabeli Iglesias' ear
that elicited a chuckle.
Fujimori, 57, and Iglesias, 24, brushed off rumors of a budding
romance. But Peruvian television had a field day with images of them
walking hand in hand.
"We got along very well," Iglesias said afterward, calling Fujimori "a
person with charisma."
He referred to her as "a dream."
Fujimori's stormy breakup with ex-wife Susan Higuchi, like himself a
descendant of Japanese immigrants, was headline news in 1994.
Since then he has admitted he's looking for someone new. At one news
conference he lamented his solitary lifestyle, and announced his
preference for intelligence and nice legs.
If the president seems blunt in his approach to courting, he may also
be a little rusty. He and Higuchi married in 1974 and apparently lived
in relative harmony for 20 years, raising four children.
But in 1994, their relations soured. Fujimori approved a law that
barred his wife from running for national public office. She responded
by moving out of the government palace, claiming he was corrupt and
launching a fruitless campaign for the presidency.
Fujimori responded by stripping her of the title of first lady and
passing the ceremonial office on to their 20-year-old daughter, Keiko
Sofia. In mid-1995, he sued for divorce on the grounds of "grave injury
and slander." The divorce was granted in February.
Now, Fujimori is looking for companionship.
During an interview with this reporter, Fujimori admitted certain
parallels between his life and the film "An American President" -- in
which Michael Douglas plays a widower in the White House who has
problems conducting a normal relationship.
"It's not easy," Fujimori said. "But it is important that I am not
alone forever. At some point, some nice girl with whom I can build a
life is going to cross my path."
Author Luis Jochamowitz, whose biography of the president, "Citizen
Fujimori," was a best-seller in Peru, said the plea might be more
political than romantic.
"When most people hear this kind of thing, their hearts go out to him,"
"Love is secondary for him. Ambition and politics are his life. With
this, he gets on the 10 o'clock news and it makes people smile. That's
just good politics."
Indeed, Fujimori's popularity is at 60%. And whatever his motives, his
very public search for companionship goes on.
Last September, rumors flowed when he gave a personal tour of colonial
Lima to a young Japanese history scholar. But asked about her
afterward, a smiling Fujimori exclaimed "She's history!"
Later, Fujimori is rumored to be secretly dating a local television
reporter. He slyly has admitted to enjoying the evening news.
At a news conference after his inauguration to a second term last July,
a jovial Fujimori fielded a tough question from a male reporter, then
"For the last few minutes, I will take questions only from the ladies.
They're nicer to talk to, and besides, I haven't had much experience
talking to women lately. I think maybe I could use the practice."
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