Yehude Simon Munaro: A Brief Portrait
Yehude Simon Munaro, born on July 18, 1947, in Lima, Peru, is a Peruvian Jew who served as the Prime Minister of Peru for nine months during the presidency of Alan Garcia, from October 14, 2008, to July 12, 2009. He was the second Jewish Prime Minister of Peru, following Ephraim Goldemberg, who held the position for a year and a half (1994–1995). The third Jewish Prime Minister of Peru was Salomon Lerner Ghitis, who served for a few months in 2011.
Simon was born in 1947 in Lima to Jewish-Italian immigrant parents. He studied veterinary medicine at a university in northern Peru and later became a professor at the same university. He is married to an artist, Nancy Lerner Beitler, and is the father of four children.
Radical Leftist Beginnings
Simon entered politics in 1983 and was considered a radical leftist at the time. While he did not openly support various Peruvian guerrilla movements such as "The Shining Path" or the "Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA)," allegations arose that he was indeed sympathetic to terrorism. In 1984, he attempted to run for mayor of Chicalayo, his hometown, representing the United Left Party of Communists and Socialists, but he was unsuccessful.
In 1985, he achieved greater success when he was elected to the Peruvian Congress as a member of the same party. In 1991, he founded a new leftist party, which some claimed was the political arm of the "Túpac Amaru," although Simon and his party denied this allegation.
In June 1992, when then-President Alberto Fujimori dissolved the Peruvian Congress, Simon was among the radical leftists who were arrested. He was tried as a supporter of terrorism and sentenced to twenty years in prison, of which he served more than eight and a half years. He was released in early 2001 by the interim president of Peru, following Fujimori's departure from office.
Moderate Leftist Transformation
Simon's prolonged stay in prison appears to have transformed his political views, making him a more moderate leftist. As such, he was elected as the governor of one of the Peruvian regions for two consecutive terms. In this capacity, he encouraged private businesses and tourism within his region, successfully performing his duties as governor.
Additionally, he was elected as the head of the Association of Peruvian Governors. On October 14, 2008, President Alan Garcia appointed Simon as the Prime Minister of Peru, making him the second Jewish Prime Minister of Peru.
This surprising appointment by a relatively conservative president can be attributed to Simon's changed political views, his personal integrity, and President Garcia's need to distance himself from corruption allegations. However, Simon's tenure as Prime Minister lasted only nine months.
In April 2009, violent clashes erupted between the government and indigenous groups in the Amazon over land rights and exploitation of natural resources, resulting in approximately fifty casualties. Simon resigned from his position on July 10, 2009, and two days later, he was replaced, aligning himself with the indigenous groups in opposition to the government's policies.
In the general elections of 2011, Simon was re-elected to the Peruvian Congress as a representative of the moderate left.
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