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Watch the new interview with Alejandro Toledo, President of Peru from 2001 to 2006. Following his presidency, he has become an outspoken voice on human rights and freedom. As President Toledo said in his interview, “Democracy does not have a nationality. It’s a universal value.” Alejandro Toledo grew up in extreme poverty. He was one of 16 children, seven of which died in childhood. He worked as a shoeshine boy to earn extra income for his family. At the age of 11, he won a contest sponsored by a Peruvian newspaper. He became a correspondent, which afforded him an opportunity to meet some of the most prominent politicians in the country and sparked his interest in politics. Friendship with some Peace Corps volunteers led President Toledo to study in the United States, where he eventually earned two master’s degrees. He pursued a career in finance, both in Peru and abroad. When President Alberto Fujimori suspended the legislature and began to rule as an autocrat in 1992, Alejandro Toledo began to move toward electoral politics. He formed a political party and unsuccessfully challenged Fujimori in the 1995 presidential elections. In 2000, he ran again. While early returns showed Toledo winning the elections, the Fujimori-allied election authorities gave the incumbent a narrow edge. Facing massive fraud and an unfair electoral environment, Toledo urged his supporters to boycott or cast spoiled ballots in the runoff elections. Fujimori claimed victory, but public protests and a massive corruption scandal led to his resignation in early 2001. In new elections that year, Alejandro Toledo won the presidency with 52 percent of the vote. Alejandro Toledo was the first democratically elected indigenous president in South America. In office, he focused on rebuilding Peru’s democratic institutions and on economic development. He made empowerment of Peru’s poor and indigenous populations a hallmark of his presidency, implementing new programs in education, health care, and housing. In his interview for the Freedom Collection, President Toledo said, “Democracy without strong democratic institutions is very fragile. If democracy does not deliver concrete and measurable results to the poor, people will not believe in democracy.” After leaving office, President Toledo established a foundation, the Global Center for Development and Democracy, to continue his work on democratization, development and economic empowerment. He is a leader on democracy and human rights and an outspoken critic of authoritarian governments, particularly those in Cuba and Venezuela. Watch the interview with Alejandro Toledo here. This post was written by Lindsay Lloyd, Program Director of the Freedom Collection.
Lindsay Lloyd is the Director of the Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute, where he manages original research and programmatic efforts to advance freedom and democracy in the world. Lindsay currently leads the Bush Institute’s Freedom in North Korea project, which raises awareness of human rights violations in North Korea, proposes new policy solutions, and engages leaders to help improve the lives of the North Korean people. Lindsay is also responsible for managing the Freedom Collection, a multimedia archive that documents the stories of nonviolent freedom advocates from around the word.
Prior to joining the Bush Institute, Lindsay served for 16 years at the International Republican Institute (IRI), most recently as senior advisor for policy. Previously, he was IRI’s regional director for Europe and co-director of the regional program for Central and Eastern Europe, which was based in Slovakia. At IRI, Lindsay worked with candidates, elected officials, political parties, and civil society activists to develop lasting democratic institutions.
Before joining IRI, Lindsay worked for several members and the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives, as political director for a political action committee, and for Jack Kemp’s 1988 presidential campaign. He graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.Full Bio
Chinese Prisoner’s Death Holds a Message for Americans and China
Liu Xiaobo, China’s most prominent dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner died this week. His death holds a message for Americans and for China.
Release of Chinese Political Prisoner a Timely Reminder to Support Freedom Advocates Abroad
More than half the world’s population still lives in countries where basic political rights and civil liberties are only partly respected, if at all.
Bringing Freedom to the Forefront of 21st Century Politics
Is the global liberal democratic order in danger? Purposefully constructed in the aftermath of World War II, this order -- and the American leadership that is central to its success --has contributed to securing peace and expanding prosperity in the United States and around the world. Today, that order appears to be dissolving. This crisis is not new or sudden; it has been mounting for several years. Global challenges like authoritarian capitalism, violent extremism, demographic pressures, and displaced populations have placed global freedom in decline. Fraying traditional alliances united by core values of freedom are increasingly weak to respond. It is alarming that the downdraft in democratic resilience over the past decade or more includes countries that have long been part of the consolidated democratic West. This is democratic deconsolidation. In much of the Western world, we see a rise in demagogic populism, illiberalism, nationalism, protectionism, and waning conf
The Importance of Speaking Truth to Tyrants
What the president of the United States says matters. Even during the realpolitik policies of détente under Richard Nixon, it was still clear that American policy was based on a set of core values. Nixon’s practical goals of reaching deals with America’s adversaries was never based on the “great chemistry” with himself or praising the Soviet or Communist Chinese leadership doing a “fantastic job.” When the president aligns himself with the autocrats and dictators, he aligns America with their oppression. He sends a message that corruption and brutality are not our concern. Contrast that with how Ronald Reagan defied much of world opinion in calling out the brutality of the Soviet system. Natan Sharansky, then a refusenik imprisoned in a Soviet gulag, later wrote for the Weekly Standard of his thoughts on Reagan’s pronouncement that the USSR was an evil empire: “It was the great, brilliant moment whe