Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori
Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori - 
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Doug Krizner: The trial of Alberto Fujimori begins today. He was elected president of Peru in 1990 and controlled the country for a decade. Now, he's fighting charges of murder, kidnapping and corruption.

Opponents say Fujimori was a thug. For others, he's the man who saved Peru from economic collapse. From the Americas Desk at WLRN, Marketplace's Dan Grech reports.

Dan Grech: Alberto Fujimori inherited an economy in tatters.

Bertran Delgado: You had hyperinflation. It was a very, very bad situation.

That's Bertran Delgado, an economist at IDEA Global.

From 1990 to 2000, Fujimori privatized state companies, liberalized trade and lowered barriers to foreign investment. That planted the seeds for economic expansion. Peru has grown by about 6 percent a year for the past six years.

Michael Shifter is with the Inter-American Dialogue:

Michael Shifter: He moved in a much too authoritarian direction that has had tremendous costs for Peru. But on the economic front, I think one has to recognize he opened the economy, and I think today Peru is still reaping the benefits.

The nation is expected to grow by more than 7 percent this year. Still, Fujimori left Peru with a poverty rate above 50 percent. And thousands of innocent peasants were killed during a 20-year battle with insurgents.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.