Mon 10 Apr, 2006 04:05 pm
It's strange that no one has paid attention to what's going on in Peru.
Presidential elections were held on Sunday, April 10th, and the results are worrysome, to say the least.
The winner on the first round, with 30% of the vote, is Ollanta Humala, a xenophobic populist, leader of Peru's Nationalist Party.
Humala's father, Isaac, is the founder of the Etnocacerista movement; "etno", for having it's roots among the Incas, Peru's native Indian population; "cacerista", in honor of former President Cáceres, who fought war against Chile.
(Forcibly retired lieuntenant colonel) Humala was involved in the two major Peruvian conflicts of the past 20 years, the battle against the insurgent organization Shining Path and the 1995 Cenepa War with Ecuador. In 1992 Humala served in Tingo María (Huánuco Region) fighting the remnants of the Shining Path and in 1995 he served in the Cenepa War on the border with Ecuador. There have been some accusations that he participated in torture while fighting the Shining Path.
Humala attempted a failed coup the etat against corrupt former president Alberto Fujimori in the year 2000. He and his rebels were forced to hide until Fujimori was impeached. Humala did not go to jail, but was forcibly retired from the army.
His campaign is based on stressing anti-Chilean and anti-US sentiments, and on stressing the fact that he is not a member of the "political class" that has never given answers to the Peruvian people (this same argument led Fujimori and current president Alejandro Toledo to win their elections).
His father has asked for an amnesty to the leaders of Shining Path and MRTA (the other marxist guerrilla group defeated in the "dirty war"). His mother believes homosexuals should face the death penalty. His brother, Antauro, is in jail for leading an armed rebellion in support of Ollanta. His chief spokesman called president Toledo's wife "hija de puta".
Etnocaceristas strongly embrace identification with their Incan heritage, nationalization of the country's industries (beginning with recently privatized industries), reintroduction of the death penalty, legalization of coca cultivation, and a strong anti-Chilean stance, particularly against Chilean investors which many etnocaceristas claim are manipulating the country's economy.
Ollanta Humala has embraced the Bolivarian concept of a pan-American republic, often referring to other Latin American nations as "brother nations" particularly with regard to Bolivia which was for a short time in a Confederacy with Peru and which sided with Peru in the War of the Pacific against Chile.
Some of the rehtoric is left wing; but many of the ideas belong to the extreme right.
The runner-up, who will face Humala on a ballotage, is to be decided amongst Lourdes Flores and Alan Garcia, who are separated by only one tenth of a percent, with 23% of the prescincts yet to be counted.
Lourdes Flores is the Social Christian candidate of the National Aliance, a conservative organization that many Peruvians link to the richer classes (in the Latin American country with the worst income distribution). She preaches free commerce and "the rule of law". A renown lawyer, she is single, attached to her father (but he was better shut down from her campaign: in 2001 he blew her chances with an offensive racial slur against Toledo), and uses her maid's children as "family".
Alán García is the leader of Perú's oldest living party, APRA (the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance) a multi-class party, with nationalist and populist leanings. He was President of Peru from 1985 to 1990, very much as part of a protest vote against the Social Christians and their "belt tightening" policies. He attacked the IMF and refused to pay Peru's foreign debt. García's term in office was marked by bouts of hyperinflation, which reached 7,649% in 1990. During his administration, the per capita annual income of Peruvians fell to $720 (below the level of 1960) and Peru's Gross Domestic Product dropped 20%. Shining Path was strong during his tenure. The García administration unsuccessfully sought a military solution to the growing terrorism, committing human rights violations which are still under investigation. His party, of course, lost the presidency in 1990... to newcomer Fujimori.
He now says he's learned the lesson and that he reppresents the only choice between the traditional right wing and Humala's dangerous adventure.
One thing in favor of Garcia is that his party will have the plurality, if not the majority of seats in the Peruvian parliament.
I wish the best for the Peruvian people. They have suffered long enough. And if it means an anti-US government can bring a betterment for them...so be it.
I am not so much disinterested as confused by it.
As "Reforma" said, there has been few electoral periods like Peru's, where the campaigns where based on attacks, criticism, and bad-mouthing. Nothing proactive really.
Fortunately, when I think of my country, at least our candidates know something about politics, and have nothing to do with guerillas. At least thats the first impression...
... and lets not get started on whats happening in Colombia ...
Reading about Peru gives the same feelings it gives you, elpohl.
Peruvians get to choose between a right wing populist-nationalist lunatic, a right wing repressentative of the rich and a guy who failed miserably while in office.
We justifiably whine about the choices here in Mexico but, in comparison, our candidates are statesmen.
The recount of the votes in Peru is sooo slow, and the difference between Alan García and Lourdes Flores so small, the conservative candidate still holds to her slim and thinning mathematical chance to go to the second round.
Alan García has already started campaigning, asuming he was Humala's runner-up in the first round.
And noticeably, famous writer -and conservative politician- Mario Vargas Llosa has urged his fellow Peruvians to vote for García, and to forge an alliance "against authoritarian militarism".
Thank you Fbaezer, very interesting to read about.
What is the history of the anti Chile focus?
It is official now: Ollanta Humala against Alan García on May 28.
dlowan, thanks for your comments.
I don't know much about how strong is this anti-Chile sentiment in Peru. But it has historical roots:
War of the Pacific 1879-1884
Besides, Chile is now a much more prosperous country than Peru, and envy stems bad vibes, the worldwide known "they're rich because we're poor" attitude.
Some recent news:
The open endorsement of Ollanta Humala by Hugo Chávez: "Ollanta, you have to be the next president of Peru" and his threat to break diplomatic relations with Peru if Alan García wins, has brought different reactions:
*Peru retired his ambassador in Caracas and accused Venezuela at the InterAmerican Court.
*Humala critisized Chávez for his involvement in Peruvian affairs.
*The polls, before the Chávez affair were 53-47 in favor of Alan García. Now they are 57-43. (70% of the population believes Chávez is financing Humala's campaign and only 17% have a positive image of the Venezuelan president).
A couple of updates.
The TV debate between García and Humala was held on Sunday 21st. The level, according to reports, was not very high.
Humala arrived late, and said it was because García's supporters had prevented him from arriving on time. A discussion followed about García's pretense that a small Peruvian flag he attached to Humala's lectern be retired, Humala dared him to do it. Finally, it was the moderator who took away the little flag.
Anyway, post-debate polls called García the winner by a 68-32 margin.
Now Humala is publicly expressing his fear of electoral fraud next Sunday.
And by a 10 percent margin.
Humala hasn't recognized defeat yet.
García says the real loser is Hugo Chávez.
It shows you can't stereotype voters in Latin America.
Ollanta Humala conceded defeat and says he will head the opposition.
Just wanted to share for those who are interested.
I'm an american, but I visited Peru on during the week of the presidential elections; it was really an interesting experience.
As in american elections there were intense commercials and signs/banners everywhere when we first got there, but 2 days prior to the election, all that stuff went away; people were not allowed to campaign or even discuss the election during the time just before the election. People were even prohibited from gathering; my bandmates and I were there for a jazz festival which almost got broken up by the local authorities due to the ban on gathering just prior to the elections.
In addition, alcohol is prohibited during election weekend; it was impossible to buy booze anywhere where we were in Lima and it was that way for the rest of the country as well.
In Peru, everyone is required to vote; there is a fine for not voting of around 70 US dollars which is a LARGE sum in Peru. Since everybody from every economic class votes, it makes it possible for nut-jobs like Humala to do well in the elections. His campain rhetoric included a desire to bring the mestizo class back into power, wanting the "copper people" to regain their power over the "white people." His plans for redistributing wealth included taking away homes and businesses from the peruvians of european ancestry and giving them to the poorer peruvians of south-american ancestry. While this is appaling by our standards, it was very appealing to all those impoverished voters and that's one of the reasons why he did so well.
My peruvian friends all voted for Flores, and then they voted for Garcia in the runoff as the lesser evil. I feel for them, though; Garcia's presidency, as has been stated, ended with hyperinflation and him being banished from the country; he only returned after the time passed from the statute of limitations of the charges awaiting him in peru.
I have my fingers crossed for them!