LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peru’s best-known prison inmate is eccentric, irreverent and narcissistic and almost offhandedly takes credit for his older brother’s ascension to the South American nation’s highest office.
President Ollanta Humala insists he’s estranged from his brother Antauro, whose antics have increasingly made news in Peru, climaxing with a string of revelations this week.
But Peru’s chief executive seems unable or unwilling to rein in his brother, and his popularity has apparently suffered as a result.
“For me, having made my brother president is a cross I must bear,” Antauro Humala, 47, said this week during a court hearing on whether he bribed prison staff to allow a lover entry to his cell outside visiting hours.
The appearance came two days after a TV channel broadcast video of him smoking marijuana in prison.
“I was offered it,” Antauro Humala later said in a newspaper interview. “It’s not a crime to consume cannabis.”
Peruvian law permits citizens — though not prison inmates — to possess small amounts of marijuana. Antauro Humala did not address the question of how it was smuggled into prison.
Brothers in arms as they rose through the army’s ranks, Ollanta and Antauro shared nationalistic ideals before staking out separate paths. The older brother forged a career in politics and was elected last June after an initial failed 2006 attempt to win Peru’s highest office.
The younger brother, who retired with the rank of army major, opted for a more violent path.
On Jan. 1, 2005, he led an assault on a police station in the highland city of Andahuaylas, seeking to trigger a revolt that would force democratically elected President Alejandro Toledo to step down. The insurrection failed. Four police officers were killed along with two of Antauro Humala’s confederates.
The day before the revolt, Lt. Col. Ollanta Humala was removed as Peru’s military attache in South Korea, cashiered for disloyalty to Toledo.
Antauro Humala was later sentenced to 19 years in prison for manslaughter, rebellion and kidnapping.
The two brothers first gained fame in 2000, when they staged a bloodless, somewhat quixotic military revolt against then-President Alberto Fujimori, who shortly thereafter fled into exile.
During the next four years, Antauro crisscrossed Peru with former army reservists, propagating the “ethnocacerist” doctrine that his father Isaac taught his children. Expounded in pamphlets entitled “Ollanta,” the doctrine argues that Peru’s natives are ethnically superior to the white Europeans who have dominated politics and the economy since colonial times. Antauro Humala says that crusade helped his brother win the presidency.
The president disavows both the philosophy and his brother.
“I’m directly against everything he says,” President Humala said Sunday in an TV interview broadcast a few hours before the pot-smoking video aired. “I don’t share anything with him, not in what he does or what he says or what he thinks. And that’s nothing new.”
The president, who is 49, also said he never approved any benefits for his imprisoned brother.
“I have not and will never give an order to favor anyone. I have 30 million brothers,” President Humala said, a reference to Peru’s population.
He was responding to allegations of first-family favoritism over brother Antauro’s March 3 transfer from the high-security Piedras Gordas prison to a cell nestled in a military barracks.
Previously, two directors at Piedras Gordas had lost their jobs over favored treatment of the first-family prisoner: TV interviews with him had been recorded inside the prison, and he was using a cell phone.
After the marijuana-smoking video went viral on the Internet, the National Penitentiary Institute, or INPE, replaced the directors of all 18 of its Lima prisons. Its director, Jose Luis Perez, said in a radio interview that the shake-up was unrelated and had been weeks in the works. But he said Antauro Humala was his No. 2 headache after corruption.
Prison officials had already been embarrassed when newspapers published a photo this month that Antauro Humala took with a cell phone showing him hugging a woman in what appeared to be his cell.
After the pot-smoking video emerged, a flood of media reports put Antauro Humala’s prison life at the center of national attention.
Not only did he allegedly have a TV, iPhone and other amenities in prison against regulations, he was also exchanging emails with people who were seeking jobs in his brother’s administration as well as recommendations, reported Cuarto Poder, a news show on America TV. There is no evidence he ever forwarded any of those appeals.
Peruvian media also published emails that Antauro sent to lovers, one of whom had appeared earlier in a widely published photo showing her wielding a pistol in a provocative pose.
Some of the emails were signed “Copper Adonis,” others with the Spanish equivalent of “Your Incan Prince Charming.”
It’s no secret that wellheeled inmates in Peru’s prisons, as in other developing country lockups, often purchase privilege from poorly paid penal officials.
The bigger scandal has been Ollanta Humala’s near silence until this week on his notorious first brother.
A March 18 Ipsos Apoyo opinion poll showed the president’s approval rating dropped six points to 53 percent in the month after Antauro Humala’s transfer from Piedras Gordas to prison inside the military barracks.
On Sunday, the president insisted he would continue his policy of nonintervention.
“The issue of Antauro is relegated to the judiciary and INPE and that is where it’s going to stay,” the president said.
Associated Press writer Frank Bajak in Lima contributed to this report.
More Related Stories
- Brave scout leader tried to reason with London attackers
- If Alex Pareene was a cable news executive...
- El Salvador court delays ruling on abortion case while woman's life hangs in the balance
- UK officials: Radical Islam behind London attack
- Pa. governor "can't find" any Latinos to work in his administration
- London machete attack could be linked to terrorism
- Conservative group blames military sexual assault on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal
- Lois Lerner, IRS disaster
- Donald Rumsfeld worried that marriage equality will lead to polygamy
- Experts: Fox News spying scandal a game-changer
- San Francisco Giant Jeremy Affeldt apologizes for homophobic past
- 9-year-old slams Rahm over Chicago schools
- Stockholm riots rage for third day
- Wall Street firm's "Golden Pitchbook" is totally sexist, full of lies
- Must-see morning clip: Toronto's eccentric and allegedly crack-smoking mayor
- Federal court strikes down Arizona abortion ban
- Jodi Arias: I deserve a second chance
- Oklahoma residents return home to pick up the pieces
- Florida man with connection to Tsarnaev killed by FBI
- FBI identifies 5 Benghazi suspects
- Here come the tornado truthers. Already
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11