The governor visited Caracas last year to attend the annual conclave of Chavez's regional union, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of the Americas, known by its Spanish acronym, ALBA. The alliance, which includes Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Cuba, is Chavez's answer to U.S.-backed regional free-trade blocs.
So-called ALBA houses proliferate in Peru's southern highlands, serving as dissemination points for chavismo, Chavez's version of socialism. Officials in Lima see Venezuelan penetration.
"The government intelligence apparatus is always watching us," said Marcial Maydana Vilca, an architect who is head of the ALBA network in Peru. He works from a downtown office here featuring the inevitable posters of Chavez and Che Guevara.
The ALBA houses in Peru, Maydana said, receive no money from Venezuela and get by on donations from members, mostly political and social groups. Though openly pro-Chavez, they function largely as social service facilitators, he said.
The network arranges for thousands of poor Peruvians to receive free medical care from Cuban doctors working in Bolivia under Operation Miracle, a Chavez health initiative. Cuban educators in Bolivia are also training Peruvian volunteers for a related literacy campaign.
Although Fuentes embraces the ALBA initiative, he is persona non grata among these pro-Chavez militants.
"He has his own self-interest at mind," Maydana said of Fuentes.
The governor may seem a seditious threat from Lima's perspective. At home, however, many view him as incompetent and corrupt. Barely more than a year in office, Fuentes has alienated former allies on the left and now faces a recall election.
In a poll by the local newspaper, Los Andes, voters gave Fuentes a disapproval rating of close to 70%, only slightly lower than the vote of no confidence for President Garcia.
Critics here label Fuentes a demagogue who has embraced Chavez in a cynical ploy to consolidate power.
From Fuentes' standpoint, his hometown opponents are sore losers, his national foes imperialist hacks.
"All the government does is satanize me," Fuentes said. "It's the same old caste that has always ruled. They should spend more time doing something about reducing poverty here and less time worrying about me and Hugo Chavez."