On the day in late March that Peru’s president, faced with impeachment over corruption charges, finally decided to resign from office, the streets were empty of marches—either celebratory or in protest—and the stock market barely noticed. But this preternaturally quiet end to Pedro Pablo Kuczynsky’s 19 month rule, belies the fact that what led to this moment was a barely believable tale of intrigue, betrayal and political subterfuge carried out by two rival children of former president Alberto Fujimori.
The battle between Keiko and Kenji Fujimori was over whether Kuczynsky—or PPK, as he is known—would stay in the presidential palace. But the siblings’ larger, blood feud is over who will go on to represent their father’s legacy in the 2021 elections and possibly move “back home” to the presidential palace they were kicked out of 17 years ago when their father, too, was forced to resign over corruption charges.
Alberto ruled Peru from 1990 until 2000, when he faxed his resignation from Japan. He had fled there after secretly taped videos emerged showing his intelligence advisor paying government officials for their allegiance. He was eventually arrested in Chile, extradited to Peru and jailed.
Alberto’s children both entered politics after he went to prison. Keiko ran twice for president, losing on both occasions—the second time, in 2016, by a razor thin margin to PPK. But her Popular Force party held a majority in congress, allowing her to block PPK’s agenda at every turn and attempting to impeach him over revelations of his undisclosed business relationships with Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.
But Keiko’s younger brother, Kenji, has ambitions of his own. Despite being a congressman in Keiko’s party, it was he who initially saved PPK from impeachment, when he and nine congressional allies abstained from the vote. Days later, it became clear why. In what was seen as the second half of a political deal, PPK pardoned Alberto, paving the way for his early release from jail. Although Keiko tweeted a joyful message about her father’s release, it was widely speculated that she preferred he remain in jail, lest he steal her political thunder.
Undeterred, Keiko tried to impeach PPK again. This time she had a trump card—and in playing it, turned on her brother too. Her party released video of…