After the December arrest of former Peruvian President Pedro Castillo and the failed coup attempt, years of political and social tensions in Peru have resulted in public unrest and a deadly government crackdown, but political There was no clear path to a compromise. violence.
What began as anger and grief over Castillo’s arrest and the elevation of his vice-president, Dina Boruarte, to the country’s top office, is the lack of political representation of many Peruvians, especially those outside the capital. The reflection turned into protests across the South American country. Lima, I’ve felt it for decades.The crisis of its representatives is getting worse In recent years, both the economic impact of the pandemic and the lack of access to basic services such as healthcare and quality education have brought it to a boil.
Still in prison after a failed coup attempt, Castillo got his start in politics as leader of the teachers’ union. Elected president in 2021, he A man from the impoverished Andean region of Cajamarca and a political outsider in the segregated world of Lima’s political elite. to the brutal dictatorship of Alberto Fujimori, who rocketed Peru’s economic engine into chaos after the 2016 presidential election. Economic conditions have improved due to the abundance of natural resources such as copper.
All these circumstances have led to the current crisis. Protesters burned buildings, closed highways, airports and mines, and suffered police violence. Dozens were killed and more injured. And the stagnant political class seems unwilling and unable to meet the political and economic demands of the Peruvian people.
But the question of what comes next has no clear answer. Despite calls for new elections, the Peruvian parliament on Saturday rejected a proposal to postpone elections to December 2023. Left-wing demands that such elections be accompanied by a Constituent Assembly to rewrite the country’s constitution — a relic from the Fujimori era helped to serve by allowing the president to dissolve parliament and rule by decree , also failed to address the current crisis, but according to current polls, 69% of Peruvians would support such an effort.
At the heart of the crisis is Peru’s broken political system. According to Zalaí Toledo Orozco, a postdoctoral fellow at Tulane University’s Center for Inter-American Policy Research (CIPR), while broad swaths of the country want change, Peru’s “c.ampesino,or the rural poor lack representation in national political parties who can fight for their priorities. It got worse, ignited by Castillo’s banishment, and turned into a full-blown conflagration.
Since coming to power, Bolarte has imposed curfews in several cities and suspended civil liberties such as the right to assembly and free movement within the country amid ongoing unrest. Since it has escalated Some Latin American political leaders and Amnesty International say police in Boruarte and Peru are pushing the envelope.
Fujimori’s demise did not bring a vibrant Peruvian democracy
in its history, Peru had a period of democracy interspersed with dictatorship and chaos. The most famous of those heavyweights is Fujimori, a populist leader who came to power in 1990 as an outsider. According to Max Cameron, a professor of comparative Latin American politics at the University of British Columbia’s School of Public Policy and International Affairs, he came “out of nowhere.” Cameron said Fujimori “looked like a man of the masses”, as opposed to the “aristocratic” novelist Mario Vargas-Lyosa. “He sold some real estate, bought a tractor, drove around in this tractor with a trailer behind it called the Fujimobile, drove around the slums of Peru, and gained a popular following.”
Fujimori was the first Peruvian leader to truly consider the Shining Path, which began as a communist guerrilla organization in the 1970s. The group, which began in the city of Ayacucho in southern Peru, recruited from Peru’s impoverished indigenous peoples, has been active in several areas currently experiencing violent protests.
To deal with the Shining Path rebellion, the Fujimori government used the suspension of democracy and brutal state violence against those deemed part of or sympathetic to the rebellion. At the same time, he privatized Peru’s mining industry and introduced measures to curb the country’s debilitating inflation. These measures, called the “Fuji Shock,” turned the economy around, and the macroeconomic policies implemented at the time produced an economy that, until recently, endured political instability.
The country’s economic success and Fujimori’s willingness to pursue a glorious path earned him a devoted political following, and the terms “Fujimorismo” and “Anti-Fujimorismo” are still commonly used to denote political positions. Fujimori’s daughter, Keiko Fujimori, is still a powerful political force. As her Verónica Hurtado, a PhD candidate in political science at the University of British Columbia, explained to her Vox, the legacy of Fujimori and the Shining Path rebellion is a political conflict between the government and those who dare to criticize its policies. Survive even in the midst of polarization.
Right-leaning critics of the demonstrators have called them terrorists, evoking the deep national trauma of the Shining Path rebellion of the 80s and 90s. Maoist rebels murdered an estimated 31,000 Peruvians, and their actions are still evoked in the concept of Peru. Terkeoas Simeon Tegel wrote in The Washington Post. Terkeoor denigration of opponents by falsely accusing them of terrorism, has swelled in recent government protests and offers a degree of impunity for excessive use of force against demonstrators. doing.
This kind of political polarization, combined with the social polarization and stratification that dominates Peruvian society, has helped create a political system without real parties – at least parties with real ideologies. No. Political power is centralized in Lima, with few connections to the city or region, and mayors and local organizations, and to a lesser extent local governors, to serve the needs of the common people rather than the central government. Expected.
According to Toledo Orozco, Peru is an “empty democracy.” Political parties exist, but only to field candidates for public office, not as organizations with ideals, policy bases, and infrastructure. This system created a politics apathetic to change and accountability, but it also helped bring Castillo to power.
The “Party of Castillo” — Peruvian Libre — has never been in government and has no experience. So if you consider Castillo to represent the left in Peru, the left has never been in power. A professor of Latin American social sciences at Tulane University, he told Vox in an interview earlier this month. “So they don’t have the experts or the workforce that can create or produce a good government.”
Turmoil in Peru’s presidential election dates back to 2016
No Peruvian president has finished his term since 2016, and it is unlikely that Boruarte will complete the rest of Castillo’s presidency, which ends in 2026. Bolarte is two years ahead of schedule. He has proposed new elections for 2024, and Congress has given preliminary approval. Although he opposed that change last month, protesters are demanding new elections for both the president and Congress as soon as possible. He claims he is only doing his duty.
However, she managed to marshal support from several small right-wing parties that together formed a majority. But Congress approved her government earlier this month, holding a critical vote of confidence despite the fears.
Castillo, in particular, has followed a volatile pattern since 2016, largely due to its animosity with the Peruvian parliament. The agency has been at odds with the presidency ever since former Finance Minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (commonly known as PPK) won a surprise victory over Keiko Fujimori in that year’s presidential election. Young Fujimori retained influence and power in Congress, and her party and its allies thwarted Kuczynski’s attempts to form a cabinet and implement his policies. and created a pattern of animosity between the legislative and executive branches that continued during Castillo’s tenure, as well as corruption scandals like the one that helped overthrow the PPK.
According to Hurtado, Castillo did not have the tools, experience, infrastructure and know-how to make his campaign promises a success. But it’s also true, according to Furtado, that Congress and the Peruvian political system thwarted him by not recognizing his victory, a common complaint among Castillo’s supporters.
“It frustrates people that Congress uses impeachment so easily,” Hartad said. get things done. There have been some major reforms. It was found that the country was looking to expand its national presence, and major social programs were in place. Little has changed since 2016, and the status quo is getting worse. ”
That’s part of why the protesters’ calls to dissolve parliament resonate so strongly. A recent poll by the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos found support for Congress at 7%. 74% of those surveyed approve of dissolving the current parliament. But fears in relatively new and fragile democracies, especially those where an elected president has previously dissolved parliament and established a dictatorship, suggest that the absence of such institutions will create an even deeper crisis. It means that it will be
On the question of where Peru could go from here, experts said Vox had no satisfactory answer because the state had no real desire to engage with protesters other than violence. And the protesters, despite their material and political demands, have an overarching organization, an umbrella, to collectively pursue dialogue with the government. not.
For Peru to have any hope of overcoming its current dysfunction, Toledo Orozco said, “conflict, conflicting issues need to be taken out of the bullet and put back into politics.” Or without a clear, consolidated list of demands, the protests remain fragmented, with no clear lines of communication with the government. As a result, observers say the ability to compromise has diminished.
“The crux of this conflict is that democracy requires more than just economic growth,” Toledo Orozco said. “We need political parties that respond to the needs and demands of the masses. A democracy that does not address the issue of representation and does not consider the needs of the poorest pays a price.”