He was born in Cajamarca, Peru in 1927. Affiliated with the United Left party, he was the mayor of Lima from 1984 to 1986. He ran for President in 1985 and came in second place. He resigned before the runoff and Alan García became president.
During his mayoral term, he was known as "El Frejolito" (Little Bean) and was known for his campaign to ensure a daily glass of milk for every child in Lima.