The Curious Case of Laura Bozzo

TV host, feminist, activist

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Doctora Laura Bozzo is the Peruvian host of the tremendously popular Telemundo television talk show, Laura in which she interviews guests, shows video clips from their lives and hands out advice and assistance. She’s supported on the show with legal and psychological advisors – and burly security guards.

She has an adoring and vocal studio audience, musicians and a simple, yet colorful set. At the beginning of the show, Laura appears and announces the theme, always involving relationships, domestic and sexual abuse, infidelity, teenage pregnancies, prostituion, homosexuality, physical handicaps, addictions, illness and other human problems. Laura is definite in her opinions. She is a feminist and activist: pro-woman, pro-motherhood and fiercely protective of children. Her guests come to her for help with difficult issues. Millions of people watch her show and write her with encouragement and for advice. She is called señorita, Laura, Laurita and viewers know how she regards her guests by her greeting. For some she rises from her chair and shares a kiss on the cheek and a hug, the abrazo. Others she greets coolly and waves them to a seat.

After the initial chat, Laura brings on the others involved in the story. It can get complicated with multiple relationships and hidden associations. She is not shy about revealing sins and peccadillos. With investigators and a film crew with hidden cameras, she’s got the backstory and often incriminating evidence on one or more of her guests. She is always supportive of mothers and children and comes down hard on parents who abandon their responsibilities. Quite often, a guest, male or female, will be led away to be charged at the local police station with one or more offenses. Always, there are tears, screaming, shouts, insults and physical attacks by guests on guests. The audience gets in the fray, hurling insults and recriminations at the offending participant.

This is very much a usual format with certain talk shows.

What makes this show different?

  • Laura, of Italian descent, tall, slender, elegant and palely blonde, is a total contrast to her guests, poor and mostly under-educated Peruvians who live in difficult circumstances. Wearing designer clothes and high heels, her hair and makeup always just so, Laura towers over some of her guests whose facial features and skin color demonstrate their ethnic backgrounds.
  • Laura founded and maintained a social charity through which she assists her guests with continuing education, jobs, medical, legal and psychological help. She gives children and teenagers scholarship money, medical care and shelters them from abusive family situations. She oversees pregnancies, helps adults find work, often presents a followup to a particularly successful case story.
  • The show while filmed at a studio in Lima, is not shown on Peruvian television.
  • Laura makes her home in the same studio as the set.Why?
    Laura Bozzo studied law in Lima, and received degrees in Law and Political Science. She taught constitutional law, states rights, penal law and other courses in various universities before being named the Director of the Instituto Nacional de Cultura where She organized a number of projects dealing with Peruvian cultural heritage. In 1993, she was elected regidora, or alderman, for metropolitan Lima. She was responsible for social legislation where she became intimately aware of the problems of poor Peruvian women.
    Following an appearance on television, she was invited to host a series of political interviews and so started her career in television. She went on to host other shows, earning high ratings which led to Laura en America, the foremother of her current show.
    Influenced by Eva Perón, Laura formed the Instituto Nacional de Cultura in 1998 as a charitable foundation to not only assist the guests on her show, but thousands of others with legal, medical and psychological help in Peru and other Latin American nations. The Peruvian press calls her la Eva Perón peruana.
    On one of her shows, dealing with a young girl who wanted to know her father, she exposed politician and economist Alejandro Toledo as the father of this illegitimate child. At the time, she was on friendly terms with then President Alberto Fujimori and Vladimiro Montesino .
    In November 2000, amid growing allegations of fraud and corruption within his administration, Fujimori fled to Japan, where he claimed Japanese citizenship and officially resigned the presidency. After Fujimori left Peru, Laura was accused of helping Montesinos steal public money. She left Peru, giving up her home there, and moved to Miami, Florida where Telemundo broadcast her old shows and her fame grew.

Alejandro Toledo was elected president. Laura returned to Peru to face charges of accepting three million dollars and valuables from spy-chief Montesinos to help Fujimori win re-election in an unconstitutional bid for a third term. She was accused of using her television program as a political endorsement. Letters she had written to Montesinos, emphazing her friendship, were cited as evidence of their collaboration.

She admits to nothing more than stupidity, yet when asked if she would help the child find its father, she says yes, she would do it again.

She was arrested and placed under house arrest, where she remains, charged but untried. She makes her home in the studio which has been outfitted with living space, exercise facilities and offices. Her show is produced live from there. Although she has repeatedly requested a trial to prove her innocence in the Montesinos affair, she has been denied one, and her supporters wonder publicly if it is because she exposed current President Toledo’s personal life. See Sobre Doctora Laura Bozzo.

In February, 2005, after completing 30 months of her 36 month house arrest, Laura appealed to the Peruvian Supreme Court for release. This was denied. Corte Suprema niega pedido de libertad a Laura Bozzo. Though she scolds older men for relationships with young women, she is reputedly involved with a young Argentinean man who moved to Peru to share her house arrest.

If her case goes to trial, and she is found guilty, she could be sentenced to seven years in prison. Laura plans to take her case to the United Nations and to the US Supreme Court?

The curious case continues. Is Laura at fault for conspiracy and receiving money and valuables? Or is she the victim of carefully orchestrated political revenge?


Update 04/24/2005:

In a court case against former spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos, who is in prison but "also being tried for allegedly dealing arms to Colombian guerrillas and faces pending charges for alleged drug trafficking and directing a paramilitary death squad," Laura took the witness stand. TV star claims love wasn't based on cash


Update 09/07/2005:

As a result of a court hearing held in July, 2005, Laura Bozzo's house arrest was lifted. The court determined that she is not to leave Peru, that she must not change her address without official authorization, that she must sign in every 15 days, and that she must exercise her freeedom of speech with due care for the truth and with respect to the still on-going case and the parties involved.  The case against Vladimiro Montesinos is still underway and she is still subject to court appearances until the matter is settled.

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