In 1990 Peru had one of the freest and most varied presses in the world, with virtually no curbs on what was published. The best-established and largest circulating newspaper was the slightly conservative daily, El Comercio. Expreso, owned by former minister of economy and finance Manuel Ulloa, was also slightly to the right of center. A variety of left-leaning dailies included Cambio, El Diario de Marka, and La República. Hoy was the pro-APRA daily. El Diário was a pro-SL newspaper that used to be published daily in Lima and circulated approximately 5,000 copies a day. The government closed it in late 1988, after the editor was accused of being a member of the SL, but it reappeared the next year as a weekly. A state-owned newspaper, El Peruano, published a daily listing of decrees and government proceedings. Oiga magazine was a right wing weekly, Caretas and Sí were centrist weeklies. Quehacer was a bimonthly research publication sympathizing with the left.
Peru had a total of 140 state and privately owned television channels. Channel 4, the state-owned channel, provided relatively well-balanced news, as it had fierce competition from its private competitors. The popular weekly news program, "Panorama," which broadcast in-depth interviews with a wide range of intellectuals, politicians, and even guerrillas, was quite influential. The MRTA, for example, made its entrance into national politics when its takeover of Juanjuí in San Martín Department was aired on Panorama.
Peru's media were in general varied, competitive, and highly informative, and options from all sides of the political spectrum were available. Peru's population was a highly informed one, with even the poorest people usually having access to television. In early 1991, when the intelligence police found a video of Abimáel Guzmán Reynoso dancing in a drunken stupor, it was aired on national television. When in early 1991 President Fujimori passed Decree Law 171, the media played a major role in raising public awareness as to the impunity that it imparted onto the armed forces and the threat that it posed to investigative journalism in the emergency zones. The publicity was in part responsible for the repeal of the decree in Congress. Indeed, the extent to which freedom of the press continued to exist in Peru, despite the many other obstacles to democratic government, was an important and positive force for Peru's democracy.
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