APRA was founded by Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre in Mexico City on 7 May 1924 with aspirations to becoming a continent-wide party, and it subsequently influenced a number of other Latin American political movements, including Bolivia's Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario, MNR) and Costa Rica's National Liberation Party (Partido Liberación Nacional, PLN).
It is the oldest surviving political party in Peru and one of the best established. APRA is as much a social phenomenon as a political movement, with a membership whose loyalty to the party has been unwavering for several generations.
APRA initially espoused anti-imperialism, Pan-Americanism, international solidarity and economic nationalism. Years of repression and clandestinity, as well as Haya de la Torre's single-handed dominance of the party, resulted in striking sectarian and hierarchical traits. The party's structure and the party's hold over its rank and file proved more lasting than its original program.
Political activity since 1980
After several years of military rule, APRA was allowed to participate as a legal political party in 1979. The party gathered strong support from the electorate, managing to win a majority of seats in the newly created Constitutional Assembly, and supervised the first democratic elections in 12 years.
Haya de la Torre was elected president of the Constituent Assembly and was slated to run as the party's presidential candidate in 1980. However, he died before the election. The party was divided between Armando Villanueva and Andres Townsend, each one of them claiming to be the political and ideological heirs of Haya de la Torre. APRA chose Villanueva as its candidate, while Townsend and other members left the party to create the Movimiento de Bases Hayistas. The split among the Apristas allowed former president Fernando Belaúnde Terry of Acción Popular to win the election.
However, APRA managed to win in virtual control of both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. It was also during these election that Alan García started his political career, after being elected Deputy for the Province of Lima.
The youthful and charismatic García was elected president on April 14, 1985 with 45% of the vote during the first round. Since he did not receive the 50% of the vote required to win the presidency, García was required to enter the second round against Alfonso Barrantes Lingán (the leftist mayor of Lima) of the Izquierda Unida Coalition. Barrantes, however, decided not to enter the second round of the elections, saying he did not want to prolong the political uncertainty of the country.
García was thus declared president on June 1 and officially took power on July 28, 1985. It was the first time in its sixty-year history that the populist APRA party had come to power in Peru.
His presidency was marked by hyperinflation with the annual rate exceeding 7,500 percent by the end of the period.
In May 1989, APRA chose as its standard bearer Luis Alva Castro, a long-time rival to García.
Despite APRA's less-than-successful time in power, it managed to obtain 19.6 percent of the vote in the first round of the 1990 elections, more than any of the other parties.
For the final runoff, it is thought that APRA may have cut a deal with Cambio 90, Alberto Fujimori, to prevent the leading candidate Mario Vargas Llosa from getting elected. In any case, Fujimori was subsequently elected.
At García's farewell speech, he was booed by the entire opposition forces and prevented from speaking. That same day the board of the Chamber of Deputies requested the creation of a special committee to investigate García's Presidency, accusing him of corruption and illicit enrichment. The committee was presided by Fernando Olivera, who attacked García with various accusations involving embezzlement and corruption. Finally, the Supreme Court declared null all the informs and constitutional accusations against García, who at the time was serving as a Senator for Life. He returned to the Senate on 20 March 1992.
As Fujimori assumed the Presidency, Congress was dominated by the opposition forces of Mario Vargas Llosa's Democratic Front. Fujimori's party had gained only 32 deputies out of 180, and 14 senators out of 60. The majority was divided between APRA and the Democratic Front, each with a 30% of Congress. The two movements were opposed to Fujimori's economic policies, and vetoed most of his laws. They even prepared a special in-door congress election to declare the vacancy of the Presidency.
Fujimori convened elections for a Democratic Constituent Congress, in which APRA did not participate. In 1995, general elections were held, and the APRA nominee for President was Mercedes Cabanillas, gaining only 4%, behind former United Nations Secretary General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar (21%) and the reelected Fujimori (64%). The party only got 7 congressman out of 120, while Fujimori dominated Congress with 68.
In 2000, Abel Salinas was elected as the presidential nominee, being the worst general election for APRA, gaining 1%. Only 6 APRA congressman were elected. As many assume the election was a fraud, Fujimori resigned after the corruption of his government was revealed by the opposition.
At the elections, the party won 19.7% of the popular vote and 28 out of 120 seats in Congress. Its presidential candidate at the elections of the same day, Alan García Pérez, won 25.8% of the vote and was defeated in the second round by Alejandro Toledo.
In February 2005, García officially commenced his campaign for the 2006 presidential election. He came in second place by a slim margin over Lourdes Flores, and faced . He officially took power on July 28, 2006.
APRA is a member of the Socialist International.
The youth organization of APRA is known as Juventud Aprista Peruana.
Hilda Gadea - the first female Secretary of the Economy of the Executive National Committee for APRA; later married Che Guevara and wrote a memoir.