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History, World War II and After

Jose Luis Bustamante y Rivero, leftist parties, Axis powers, Bustamante, constitutional amendment

During World War II (1939-1945) Peru gave limited support to the Allied cause. It broke off relations with the Axis powers in January 1942, but declared war against Germany and Japan only in February 1945 in order to be accepted as a charter member of the United Nations.

In 1945 the National Democratic Front, a coalition of liberal and leftist parties, including APRA, supported Jose Luis Bustamante y Rivero, who won the presidential election. The National Democratic Front also won a majority in both houses of the legislature. The new government instituted numerous liberal reforms, strengthened civil rights and freedom of the press, and passed a constitutional amendment abolishing certain dictatorial powers formerly held by the president.

In October 1948, however, rightist revolutionary leaders unseated Bustamante, seized the government, and outlawed APRA. On July 2, 1950, Manuel A. Odria, the leader of the 1948 coup díetat, won the presidential election. Odriaís chief opponent was not placed on the ballot.

Along with Chile and Ecuador, Peru extended the countryís territorial waters to 320 km (200 mi) off the mainland. This action brought sharp protests from the United States, as many U.S. fishing vessels operated in South American waters.

The Odria administration disbanded Peruís labor unions, outlawed all opposition, and imposed tight censorship. It also strengthened Peruís defenses, initiated a large public-works program, and concluded a series of economic and cultural pacts with Brazil that provided for closer cooperation between the two countries. The demand for a return to civilian rule was so great, however, that in 1956 free elections were held.

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