Whither Peru?

The election on June 6, 2021, of Pedro Castillo, from the left-leaning Perú Libre, or Free Peru Party, as President of Peru has received much attention in the international press, with signals of both critical concern and cautious hope. To provide a better understanding of the situation on the ground in Peru and prospects for the future to readers in southern Arizona and the United States, this writer, a US ex-pat anthropologist resident in Peru, provides background information that he hopes will clarify the situation and future prospects from his perspective as an American radical, active participant in the Occupy Tucson movement and its continuing working group, Occupied Tucson Citizen.

Picture of the President of Peru, Pedro Castillo
President of Peru Pedro Castillo

The Historical Background

Following nearly three centuries of Spanish colonial rule, Peru declared its independence on July 28, 1821. So, the inauguration of the new President on July 28, 2021, the bicentennial of that independence, is of great significance for observers from all political perspectives.  Will it lead to a new concept of independence from global economic imperialism or toward yet another authoritarian government, plagued by corruption and inequality? During much of its independence from Spain, Peru was governed by military strongmen with ties to the landowning class and industrial or financial elite, in some cases British or North American interests. The elected governments of the 20th Century all had close ties to regional, national, and transnational elites. Never before has Peru experienced a self-proclaimed socialist government, although the military government of President Juan Velasco Alvarado, 1968-1975, included some intellectuals who considered themselves socialists and advocated for a vertical “Peruvian Revolution”, mainly centered on a failed agrarian reform and subsidies to national industry to promote import substitution. That reformist government also enacted the first legislation to extend legal recognition, land rights and limited economic autonomy to Amazon indigenous communities.

When the Velasco government fell in August 1975, its military successor until 1980 paved the way for the Constitution of 1979 and the democratic election in 1980, for a second term, of Fernando Belaúnde, whom Velasco had deposed in the 1968 coup. Since then there has been a succession of democratically elected governments. Belaúnde was replaced in 1985 by a populist candidate, Alan García, who attempted some initial reforms but ended his term with major inflation and economic chaos.

In 1990, an outsider, Alberto Fujimori, was elected as an alternative to right-wing author, Mario Vargas Llosa, who had promised an economic shock package to put the country back on track toward economic development. Once elected, Alberto Fujimori reversed course and imposed an economic shock package similar to the one advocated by Vargas Llosa. Lacking support in the Peruvian Congress, Fujimori closed it in 1992 and assumed authoritarian rule, but with popular local community development programs, until he was forced by international political pressure and the threat of economic sanctions to call for a new Constitution, approved in 1993, and the election of a new Congress. He was re-elected over Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, the former Secretary General of the United Nations in 1995, and again in a Constitutionally-challenged re-re-election in 2000, but he was forced to resign amid revelations of major corruption, as well as human rights violations. He is now serving a high-profile 25-year prison sentence for his crimes.

Since Fujimori’s imprisonment, the leader of his successive political parties and movements has been his daughter, Keiko Fujimori, who was the losing candidate in the 2011, 2016, and now the 2021 elections. Keiko Fujimori, like her father, has long had the financial and political support of drug traffickers and other elements of organized crime, as well as many locally-based corrupt political leaders. Their principal claim to public opinion polls support is derived from the capture and subsequent imprisonment for life of Abimael Guzmán, the leader of the brutal insurgent group, Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path, which espoused Maoist and Pol Potist routes to revolution in Peru. That insurgency cost at least 70,000 deaths, mainly of campesinos, but also police and residents of urban neighborhoods in Lima, and seriously threatened Peru’s political stability.

Critics argue that Guzman’s capture by members of an intelligence unit of the National Police, was in violation of presidential orders, since Fujimori and his shady advisor, Vladimiro Montesinos, were waiting for a more politically convenient moment to arrest him. Moreover, there is abundant evidence that the decline in the violent insurgencies that plagued Peru between 1980 and the late 1990s was accomplished mainly by organized local community patrols, the rondas campesinas, rather than by any police or military interventions from the central government. However, following Guzmán’s arrest and some tactical errors on the part of his organization and the parallel insurrectionist Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA), violent political conflict in Peru declined substantially, and many Peruvians still credit Fujimori with ending “terrorism”.

 

The democratically-elected governments of Peru since 2001 have prioritized neoliberal economic policies and have attained economic development at fairly impressive rates, at the expense of increased social inequality and marginalization of rural and other populations from the country’s interior. There have also been continuous, large-scale corruption scandals involving major government officials, which have led to widespread distrust of those governments.

The Previous Government Cycle, 2016-2021

In April 2016, Keiko Fujimori obtained the most votes in the first round of the elections, in which ten candidates participated, with 38.86% of the legally valid vote, followed by right-wing economist and former Minister of Economy and Finance, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, with 21.05% of the valid vote. One of three leftist candidates, Verónika Mendoza, came in a close third with 18.74%.  Keiko Fujimori’s party also obtained an absolute majority in the Congress, with 73 of the 130 seats, while Mendoza’s alliance obtained 20 seats, and Kuczynski’s party 18 seats; other parties split the remaining seats. However, in the second-round vote for President, held in early June, Mendoza, along with most of the other candidates, threw their support to Kuczynski to prevent a Fujimori Presidential victory. In that round, Kuczynski obtained 50.12% of the vote to Keiko Fujimori’s 49.88% and assumed the Presidency on July 28th.

Kuczynski, faced with an opposition Congress, sought to address some of the social ills in the countryside with a more populist approach during his tenure as President, although with little success. But following the revelation of his illegal relationships with the Brazilian construction company, Odebrecht, and a politically-motivated pardon of Alberto Fujimori, later declared illegal by the International Criminal Court, and the likelihood of his removal by the Congress on the Constitutional grounds of “permanent moral incapacity”, Kuczynski resigned on March 21, 2018. He was succeeded by his Vice-President, Martín Vizcarra, a former Governor of the Moquegua Region in southern Peru, who had served as Minister of Transportation and Communications and Ambassador to Canada while Vice-President. Kuczynski, now under preventative house arrest in Lima, remains under investigation for his alleged and likely corrupt acts.

Vizcarra sought popular support from modest anti-corruption Government reforms, particularly in the Judiciary, and avoided confrontation on key political issues, except for a much-criticized aggressive campaign to require masks and other measures to try to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control. He served until November 9, 2020, when he was removed from office by the Opposition-led Congress for “permanent moral incapacity”, following accusations that were never proven of corruption in the handling of construction contracts while he was Minister of Transportation and Communications. That case continues in the courts.

He was succeeded by the then President of the Congress, Manuel Merino, of the Belaúnde-founded Popular Action Party. However, six days later, on November 16th, following national press revelations of the intrigue and corruption behind that palace coup, massive demonstrations in the streets, and the renunciation of 13 of his cabinet members, Merino was also forced to resign, and the Congress named Francisco Sagasti, an industrial engineer, prominent advocate of democratic reforms, and Congressman from Lima of the centrist Purple Party, as interim President until a new President could assume his role on July 28, 2021.

Sagasti, who as interim President engineered a number of popular democratic reforms and also avoided major confrontation with the Congress, sustained relative popularity during his brief presidency, mainly as a result of his dedication of major budget resources to the acquisition of vaccines against COVID-19. When he assumed the Presidency, he avowed not to be a candidate in future elections.  Nevertheless, the increasingly unequal economic dislocations resulting from the pandemic and the slow progress in combating it, led public opinion to demand change and more effective government, as the 2021 elections approached.

The 2021 Election Campaign

For the first round, held on April 11th, 23 presidential candidacies were presented, of which 18, representing political persuasions ranging from a Trump-inspired neo-fascist movement to “Marxist-Leninist” parties were certified by the National Elections Board to participate. Leading the polls at different points in the campaign were George Forsyth, a former soccer player and mayor of a Lima district; Yonhy Lescano, the candidate of the Popular Action Party; economist Hernando De Soto, from the right-wing Country Forward Party, who proposes private property as the solution to Peru’s ills; Rafael López Aliaga, of the neo-fascist National Renovation Party, and Keiko Fujimori. The left-leaning alliance supporting Verónica Mendoza never gained the traction she had in the 2016 elections. To nearly everyone’s surprise, Pedro Castillo, a 51-year-old teacher from rural Cajamarca in the northern highlands, the candidate of the “Marxist Leninist” Free Peru Party came out on top with 18.92% of the vote, followed by Keiko Fujimori, with 13.41%. Mendoza came in fifth with 7.86%, probably because many of her supporters voted for Castillo after he appeared to be leading her in the polls.

Also elected on April 11th was the new Congress, whose 130 members include representatives of 10 different political parties and movements, as follows:

Representation in the Peruvian Congress, 2021-2016

Party or Movement Seats Political tendency
Free Peru (Castillo) 37 Left
Popular Force (K. Fujimori) 24 Right
Popular Action (Lescano) 16 Right
Alliance for Progress (Acuña) 15 Right
Country Forward (De Soto) 10 Right
Popular Renovation (López Aliaga) 9 Right
We Are Peru (Salaverry) 6 Center
Together For Peru (Mendoza) 5 Left
Peru Can (Urresti) 5 Center
Purple Party (Guzmán) 3 Center
Total 130 Right-wing majority

The second-round campaign was vicious. Nobel laureate and former presidential candidate Vargas Llosa promptly denounced Castillo as an unacceptable Marxist and endorsed Keiko Fujimori, in spite of his long-time opposition to the Fujimoris as anti-democratic and corrupt. The rest of the right-wing parties followed suit, while the centrist parties made no endorsement.  Only Mendoza and the leaders of two minor leftist movements with no representation in the new Congress endorsed Castillo.

Castillo campaigned as a true representative of “Deep Peru”, the provincial regions long marginalized from major political roles. As a 51-year-old rural teacher of mixed-blood extraction, he claimed to represent “todas las sangres”, all races and social strata in Peru, the title of a 20th Century novel by José María Arguedas. Campaigning in a white hat, characteristic of campesino communities in his native Cajamarca, he offered a Government that provides greater resources for education, health, and other social needs, and elimination of subsidies and tax exemptions for transnational corporations, although he offered openings for foreign investment in priority sectors. He also advocated for vigorous measures to prevent and control corruption. In an effort to calm the jitters of the economic elite, he proposed to keep in office Julio Velarde, the current President of Peru’s Central Reserve Bank.

Castillo called for a new agrarian reform to secure the priority of campesino and indigenous land rights over those of agroindustry, favored by all recent Peruvian governments. I use campesino, rather than peasant, to refer to the descendants of the classical Andean civilizations who continue to work the land. The term peasant has a distinctively European connotation that is culturally and historically different from the Andean experience. Although Peruvian campesinos are also indigenous in their origin, that term is applied more frequently in Peru to refer to the original Amazonian peoples.

Castillo also demanded the defense of local community water rights threatened by mining concessions, the source of many ongoing social conflicts. Moreover, he is a strong defender of measures to protect the natural environment and more effectively mitigate or facilitate adaptation to climate change. During the campaign he soft-pedaled previous declarations critical of feminists and LGBT+ folks, that reflected the conservative perspectives of many campesinos.

A major demand of the Castillo campaign was for a Constitutional Assembly to adopt a new Constitution to replace the 1993 Constitution, promulgated by the Alberto Fujimori Government. The economic clauses of that Constitution exclude public sector engagement in industrial and economic service activities with a major privatization focus and concessions over public natural resources to private sector extractive industries with property-like characteristics. That situation has allowed mining and oil and gas companies to gain control of critical water sources that have long been the patrimony of local indigenous communities, both highland and Amazonian, giving rise to major social conflicts.

Additionally, Peru’s Amazonian indigenous federations are demanding that the new Constitution restore the inalienability, unattachability, and imprescriptibility of indigenous community lands, a right that they had had in the three previous Constitutions since 1920, but that was eliminated in the 1993 Constitution, and that the Government recognize peoples or nations with autonomous governance and integral territories, rather than the fragmented local community land titles, which do not include forestry, subsoil, and water rights. Peru’s economic elites vigorously oppose such Constitutional changes.

There appears to be no current Constitutional avenue for calling a Constitutional Assembly without the consent of the Congress, which is unlikely in the short term. Castillo has called for a referendum on this issue, which would certainly be challenged in the courts.

In Lima, the mainstream television, radio and print media, including pundits with a long tradition of opposition to Keiko Fujimori, whom they had consistently tagged as corrupt and anti-democratic, was united in its opposition to Castillo. Many used openly racist and classist epithets to refer to Castillo.  “How is it possible that a [brown] campesino can be elected President of Peru?” Castillo had been a leader of the community patrols, in his native Chota, Cajamarca, where they began, as well as a teachers’ union leader. Labels of “communist” and “terrorist” abounded in television and radio reporting and opinion outlets.  Few detractors sought to reconcile their accusations of “terrorism” with Castillo’s role as a leader of the community patrols, originally organized in the 1970s to control cattle rustlers. The community patrols played a major role in the elimination of the Shining Path rebels from communities throughout most of rural Peru.

Although the leader of his Party is a self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninist, and such positions have long been common in Peru’s teachers’ unions, I personally doubt that Castillo, a rural teacher with few available bibliographic resources, has ever read much of Marx or Lenin, but he neither proclaimed nor rejected that label. He was also said to be planning to convert Peru into “another Venezuela”, a scare tactic aimed at a country that has received more than a million Venezuelan migrants in recent years. And “Cuba is a failed state; we don’t need another Cuba.” The only media support for the Castillo campaign was from the progressive social media.

One of the principal targets during the campaign was the President of Castillo’s Free Peru Party, Vladimir Cerrón, a medical doctor trained in Cuba, ex-Governor of the Junín Region in the central Peruvian highlands. While Governor, he was accused of favoring a US$230,000 contract with the Altiplano Construction Consortium for public works that were never completed, charges that he consistently denied and that are subject to serious questioning. At his trial in 2019 he was convicted and sentenced to four and a half years in prison, but on appeal that sentence was reduced to three years and nine months suspended, and he was released from prison. Because of the sentence, Cerrón himself was ineligible to be a candidate; so, his party had selected Castillo as its alternative candidate.

In another case, currently under investigation, Cerrón is accused of a relationship with a criminal organization called “The Dynamic Ones of the Center”, referring to the central Peruvian highlands, which is accused of trafficking in licenses and staffing arrangements in Junín’s Regional Office of Transportation and Communications. That case was recently transferred to Lima for completion of the accusations and trial. Although, because of his suspended sentence, Cerrón will be permanently barred from holding any public office, the concern of the critics is that he will have undue influence on the Castillo Government, whose Party he continues to lead.

The final election results were 50.13% of the valid votes for Castillo, 49.87% for Keiko Fujimori. Geographically, Castillo carried all of Peru’s highland regions, and the southern coastal and Amazon regions with a strong vote, while Keiko Fujimori won big in Lima and had majorities in the northern and central coastal and Amazon regions. The latter are now plagued with widespread drug trafficking, illegal timber extraction, and illegal gold mining, which are the mainstays of their local economies.

Map showing results in different parts of Peru

Once the results were announced by the press and confirmed by numerous elections observers from the Organization of American States, the European Union, among others, Keiko Fujimori cried fraud and sought to annul the results, without success. Since Keiko Fujimori is under investigation for receiving illegal campaign contributions and other corrupt acts, for which, if convicted, she could go to prison for up to 30 years, her resistance is understandable. Her tactics of hundreds of unfounded legal challenges that were filed with the local and national elections boards in efforts to reverse the count, her denial of the legitimacy of the election process itself and calls from members of her party and from López Aliaga for military intervention to annul the election, bear a striking similarity to the actions taken by Donald Trump following his loss of the US Presidential election in November 2020.

Finally, on July 19th, nine days before he was to assume the Presidency, with all of the challenges resolved, the National Elections Board proclaimed Pedro Castillo the newly elected President. There was little time for a smooth transition in Government.

Castillo as President

Following his proclamation as President, there was high-profile internal jockeying for cabinet posts and other key positions within Castillo’s party, Free Peru, and among its allies. The national press centered its attention on the role of Cerrón in the formation of the new Government. The first cabinet, announced first on July 30th and completed on August 1st, is led by the Prime Minister, Guido Bellido, a lawyer from Cuzco who has long advised campesino federations there; he was an unsuccessful candidate of the Peru Libre Party for Congress from Cuzco in the 2021 elections. A majority of the new cabinet comes from the interior provinces of Peru, not from elite Lima political circles.

The best known of the new ministers is Pedro Franke, the Minister of Economy and Finance, who is a professor of Economics at Lima’s prestigious Catholic University and was an advisor to the campaign of Verónika Mendoza. Another prominent figure, Héctor Béjar, was named Minister of Foreign Affairs. Béjar, who is a lawyer and sociologist, also teaches at the Catholic University and is well known in Lima intellectual circles for his thoughtful and provocative publications. He was under attack from the start for his role in the mid-1960s as a leader of the National Liberation Army guerrilla movement. Imprisoned for that role, he was pardoned by the Velasco military Government, with which he collaborated for a time following his release from prison.

Béjar was the first of the cabinet members to announce his institutional priorities in a detailed speech on August 5th. Among other proposals, he called for ratification of a number of international conventions on human rights and environmental policy, and the strengthening of the South American economic and trade alliance, UNASUR. He also announced Peru’s withdrawal from the Lima Group, which recognizes Venezuelan opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, as the victor in the last elections over President Nicolás Maduro. Béjar insisted on neutrality in internal Venezuelan political matters.

Then, on August 15th, the Sunday television program Panorama, revealed declarations that Béjar had made at a rally in November 2020, well before he became Foreign Minister, in which he pointed out that the Peruvian Navy had played a role in spying on government officials for the CIA and training guerrillas in the 1970s against the Velasco Government. The press, and most political forces in Peru exploded against this “offense” to the Navy, without considering that Béjar was referring to the Navy of the 1970s, not today’s Navy, and that what he said was true. Indeed, the Peruvian Navy, the most conservative of Peru’s armed forces, has a long history of underground activity, including serious human rights violations in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as the activities that Béjar was referring to. Béjar was not given the opportunity to explain the situation. At Prime Minister Bellido’s request, he resigned on August 17th, after 19 days in office.

By caving to political pressure from the radical right, the Castillo Government lost both a potentially outstanding Foreign Minister who could have placed Peru in the forefront of international policy discussions and the offensive in its battle with the Congress and the press.

Following his resignation, Béjar gave a series of interviews to the press, in which he explained his position and reminded Peruvians of the true story of the role of the Peruvian Navy in opposition to progressive governments and movements over decades.  He affirmed that he had many friends in the Navy both historically and now, and that he celebrates its positive role as an institution, but cannot allow those Naval officers who undermine the Navy’s integrity by furthering illegal, ideologically driven interventions against the interests of the people of Peru to prevail. Those interviews appear to have moved public opinion, at least in the social media, toward a more realistic and progressive focus.

On August 20th, Prime Minister Bellido named Oscar Maúrtua de Romaña, a seasoned career diplomat and former Foreign Minister in the mid-2000s with the Alejandro Toledo administration as the new Foreign Minister. This designation was reportedly made over the objections of Free Peru Party leader Cerrón. Maúrtua is the scion of a patrician Arequipa family descended from a 19th Century President of Peru. As such he is more acceptable to Peruvian elites. Whether or not Maúrtua follows the progressive foreign policy guidelines laid out by Béjar or moves in another direction will depend on the political will and leadership in this area assumed by President Castillo and Prime Minister Bellido.

The new Congress also organized and its opposition majority parties assumed the chairmanships of the most important committees. Traditionally, all parties in the Congress are allowed to lead some committees, but the Free Peru Party was only allowed to chair those of Culture; Indigenous, Andean, and Afro-Peruvian Peoples; and Women and Marginalized Groups, which were not of interest to the majority.  Some members of the Congress was already calling for the removal of a number of Ministers, and the entire cabinet was cited to appear before Congress on August 26th, after which there will be a vote of confidence. Following a postponement of the vote for one day, the Peruvian Congress reluctantly gave the Bellido cabinet a 73-50 vote of confidence, with seven abstentions.

Under Peru’s current Constitution, if the Congress denies confidence votes to two cabinets during the same Presidential term, the President may dissolve the Congress and call new Congressional elections. When a vote of confidence is denied, the President must name a new cabinet with a new Prime Minister, although the new cabinet may include some holdover ministers. In that case, the Congress could only deny confidence to one additional cabinet, after which it could be dissolved by the President and new elections called. Many observers believe the Congress may now seek to censure individual ministers. However, theoretically, the President could demand a vote of confidence on the retention of a given minister.

More likely, in my opinion, is that the new Congress will look for excuses to vacate the Presidency on grounds of “permanent moral incapacity”, as previous Congresses did or sought to do over the last five-year term. Such a move would require the votes 87 of the 130 members, but if the centrist parties back the right-wing leadership, they could obtain the necessary votes. Should Castillo be vacated, the Presidency would go to his Vice-President, Dina Boluarte, who is now also the Minister for Women and Marginalized Populations and a member of Castillo’s Party. If subsequently she were to be vacated, the President of the Congress, currently María del Carmen Alva, of the Popular Action Party, would then succeed her.

One is led to believe that, if for no other reason, there is a need for a Constitutional reform to eliminate the possibility of such action and ensure greater Government stability. Other critical Constitutional reforms that need to be adopted would be measures to increase Government transparency and prevent and control corruption more effectively.

The Future

What happens next is highly unpredictable. Both the opposition Congress and the President were elected to five-year terms that expire in 2026. Neither is assured of completing those terms, given the current climate of political instability and the lack of a strong popular mandate for either. Much will depend upon how the Castillo Government negotiates its relationship with the Congress, the press, the Judiciary, the intelligence agencies, and public opinion and how it handles international or global situations that are beyond its immediate control, including the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters resulting from climate change.

The Peruvian people are not happy with their elected officials, either now or at any time in recent memory. That, of course, could change. Today the country is highly polarized, but there is always hope that things could turn out better. If the polarization persists, there could be civil war. But if the Castillo Government can manage to hold on and bring the country around, it could lead the country toward much needed change. In today’s Peru it is unlikely that the military will get involved unless the polarization leads to a full-fledged political collapse or threat of a civil war.

I firmly believe that, if the Castillo Government is to survive for the next five years, it must successfully navigate a number of critical challenges, including:

  • Take the offensive. Keep the discussion of controversial issues on its own turf and avoid unnecessary concessions to right-wing propaganda and public paranoia. Calling for Béjar’s resignation was an unnecessary concession to an inquisition.
  • Consolidate an effective communications network that can convey the message of successes and counter false accusations. Most of the Peruvian people are not as ideologically rigid as the Peruvian Congress and press. Attitudes and interpretations can change rapidly in response to well-reasoned messages.
  • Quickly consolidate the COVID-19 vaccination campaign and overcome the economic paralysis it has brought. The Castillo administration has already accelerated the ongoing vaccination campaign, taking advantages of vaccines acquired during the Segasti administration. If the pandemic declines substantially, the Government can take the credit.
  • Develop and put into action a whole-of-Government campaign against corruption with effective and more timely prosecution of those proven to have committed corrupt acts while in positions of public responsibility, and innovative transparency and prevention measures. Such actions would effectively counter corruption charges against Party leader Cerrón and others subject to accusations of corruption, and remove any public officials when even minimal corruption becomes evident.
  • Obtain the support in the Congress of the centrist parties around democratic reform and anti-corruption measures. If public opinion moves toward Castillo, those parties will too.
  • Reopen Peru to better managed tourism, an important source of foreign exchange and an improved national image, with better health and environmental regulation and with local community participation.
  • Better manage raw materials extraction concessions, beginning with mining, and stimulate processes for the transformation of Peru’s minerals, timber, and agricultural products as an alternative to their exportation as raw materials;
  • Consolidate its base of support in the highlands and the South by achieving a palpable program toward food sovereignty and land tenure security for the campesino population in a context of greater citizen security and relative economic stability; this includes satisfactory resolution of the social conflicts with mining companies and agroindustry.
  • Promote intermediate-level mechanisms to channel popular demands to the Government and respond timely to administrative dysfunction. Such measures must include more comprehensive decentralization of governmental functions, with vigorous transparency and corruption prevention and control mechanisms and the development of an effective civil service at both sub-national and national levels.
  • Expand its support in the coastal and Amazon regions, again by more effectively addressing social conflicts with mining and timber companies, drug traffickers, and other elements of organized crime, thereby improving local communities’ territorial security and integrity and providing a basis for improved economic conditions.
  • Improve citizen security with more effective community policing and more humane police procedures.
  • Avoid conflicts with neighboring countries and define diplomatic objectives that are better aligned with global human rights and environmental policies and strengthen the positions of the countries of the South vis a vis the leading economic powers, including China. Béjar’s policy guidelines provide a useful starting point.
  • Build on anticipated popular approval of the Chilean experience with its Constitutional Assembly. That Constitutional Assembly, led by a highly capable Mapuche indigenous leader and professional linguist, Elisa Loncón, appears to have substantial public support and even acceptance by the conservative Piñeira Government. Timing will be important in the call for new democratically-elected Constitutional Assembly in Peru. If possible, this should be done in coordination with the Congress, but, if not, in a manner that is publicly perceived as democratic and Constitutional.

Beyond survival, to consolidate a revolutionary process, which I believe is the ultimate goal of the Castillo Government, it must:

  • Organize support for fundamental political and socio-economic change from the grass roots and respond effectively to the demands that come from the grass roots. Revolutions are not achieved through elections nor vertical imposition by authorities.
  • Demonstrate charismatic and effective leadership, avoiding a cult of personality.
  • Build alliances with other revolutionary movements and progressive governments around the world. Revolution in a single country is an impossibility.

President Castillo and his Government have a lot to learn quickly, but there is still hope that they can govern as effectively as they campaigned.

 

Photos and electoral map from Wikipedia (Creative Commons License)

1 thought on “Whither Peru?”

  1. UPDATE: The cabinet, led by Prime Minister Bellido, made its case before the Peruvian Congress, as scheduled, on August 26th. Following lengthy debate and personal accusations against individual Ministers, the Congress reluctantly granted the new cabinet a vote of confidence by a vote of 73-50.

    Comments and questions are welcome.

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