Obituary: Luis Alberto Sanchez
Tuesday 08 February 1994
LUIS ALBERTO SANCHEZ cultivated politics and letters all his long life in a way that was once more common in Latin America than it is now. He was a founding member of the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA), a nationalist party that combined anti-Communism and anti-Americanism and was one of the leading forces in Peruvian politics for more than half a century. He was three times Rector of San Marcos University, Peru's leading university, and published more than 50 volumes of history, biography, literary criticism, fiction, poetry and memoirs.
Sanchez never broke ranks with APRA, standing by Victor Raul Haya de la Torre, the party's mercurial founder, until the latter's death in 1979. He endured years of political persecution and exile when APRA was banned and Peru's military rulers pursued its members with implacable ferocity. Later, he tolerated the betrayals that saw party leaders make alliances with their former enemies the right-wing generals - an experience that drove some of the more idealistic young APRA militants into rebellion and the disastrous guerrilla adventures of the mid-1960s.
In his later years Sanchez was one of APRA's conservative 'old guard', siding with a right-wing faction when the party split in the wake of electoral defeat in 1981. But he later acted as a unifying force, backing the young left-winger Alan Garcia, who became the first aprista President of Peru in 1985, and realigned the party with the Socialist International, from which it had become estranged. As a reward, Sanchez was elected Vice-President on Garcia's ticket at the age of 84 - a belated compensation for never having held high ministerial office.
In the course of a chequered political career spanning more than 60 years, Sanchez founded the party newspaper Tribuna in 1931, the same year that he was elected to Congress for the first time; he sat as deputy and later senator for Lima; and he chaired the 1978-79 constituent assembly that drew up a new Peruvian constitution. He was a member of the Congress that was closed down in a palace coup by President Alberto Fujimori in April 1992, and was writing a history of APRA at the time of his death.
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