Writer & Sociologist

Peru defends it’s fragile economy

The appointment of the new cabinet in Peru, headed by the new Interior Minister Oscar Valdes, a retired army Lietenant Colonel, clearly demonstrates the intention to continue the economic policies of previous governments. Capitalism through its neo-liberal model has gained strength and is at the forefront of the development of the political and economical situation in Peru.  This is reflected in the implementation of social inclusion programs of a temporary nature. There is not an industrialization project in place to ensure the long term welfare of those living in poverty today. This complex situation expresses a contradiction in the attitude of President Ollanta Humala, who now seems to be committed to a neoliberal agenda of the transnational domain.  An alternative model is needed, for within the neoliberal model lies the root of the evils of Peruvian society.

The government of Ollanta Humala, to date, seems inclined to prioritise the interests of the large multinationals using the pretext of respecting the ‘rule of law’, and its duty as guardians of foreign investmen.  In my view, what the government should do is to promote the creation of national companies or joint ventures in agreement with the State in order to generate real and permanent jobs for the millions of Peruvians who are living with incomes below the poverty line.  If there is one positive observation of President Ollanta Humala’s government it is the persistence to carry out his position on the ‘Road Map’, (La Hoja de Ruta), to deal with social inclusion and raising international policy against the blockade to Cuba.  Perú has exhibited in forums at the United Nations an internationalist policy of solidarity with Cuba and Palestine and strengthens support for UNASUR in their struggle for South American unity against the policy of economic domination in the region.

The Peruvian right wants to take over the Gana Peru´s victory. The victory of the political alliance that led to Ollanta Humala’s triumph in recent elections.  Gana Peru, in the first round of the election, received 31% of the votes, followed by Keiko Fujimori 23%,  PPK 21%, Alejandro Toledo 15% and Luis Castañeda 10%. As no one of the candidates passed the 50% barrier to win the elections a second round of voting was needed.  In this final round of voting the only two candidates were, Ollanta Humala and Keiko Fujimori. Here the right wing parties rallied support for Keiko Fujimori.  And the coalition Gana Perú conformed of nationalists, socialists and communists won the support of Alejandro Toledo´s supporters. Since it was necessary to count on the support of Alejandro Toledo in order to win the election, Gana Perú had to amend its original plan of government to reconcile with some capitalist sectors represented by Alejandro Toledo.  In order to ensure the left and democratic forces of Perú would continue the fight for The Great Transformation of the country and not backtrack from their aspirations, the Peruvian left, lead by Roberto de La Cruz from the Peruvian Communist Party (PCP) provided the government with constructive critical support and agrees with Ollanta Humala´s aims for the implementation of social inclusion programs to ensure it reaches those truly in need.

It is also a priority of the left to denounce the measures that may be taken against the workers and the people. For example, opposing the ratification of the concession of the ports to the transnationals, to demand the enforcement of tax payments owned by the Spanish transnational Telefónica and to defend the interests of the farmers of Olmos.  And finally to ensure that the promises made by the Ollanta Humala during the election campaign are accomplished, in the sense that they fulfill their aim of achieving a more humane and democratic Peru.

It is in this context that the organisation MOVADEF has appeared, a façade for the terrorist movement Shining Path, who has asked to be registered to participate in the political arena. The Peruvian Communist Party, led by Roberto de la Cruz, said that this new posture of the Shining Path is simply the ratification of its strategic defeat’ and has made a statement to remember the victims of terrorist attacks, among them, Fermin Azparrent, Jorge Munguia and Pedro Orellana. The murder of Pedro Huilca was also recalled, leader of the General Confederation of Workers of Peru, (CGTP), who was killed by the Colina group, an annihilation group supported by Alberto Fujimori´s regime.

Another development in Peruvian politics has been the arrest of Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala, known as “Comrade Artemio”, leader of a faction formed after the main body of the Shining Path was defeated.  This terrorist group has relied on drug trafficking to generate revenue and to continue terrorist attacks aimed at the police, the military and drug eradication efforts. Florindo Flores is believed to be a member of the inner circle of Abimael Guzmán, the founder of the Shining Path, who has been in prison in Peru since 1992.  There is still one small group of narco-terrorists deep in the Peruvian jungle which has not surendered.  It ought to be remembered that the Shining Path was involved in a bloody war that left around 70,000 Peruvians dead in the 1980s and 1990s and which only ended with the capture of their leader, Abimael Guzmán.

This is the panorama of Peruvian politics nowadays.  I think that the transformation of the country can only start after the Peruvian government defines its stand against neoliberal policies more clearly.

On February 10th, the people from the mining región of Cajamarca arrived to Lima in their thousands to ask the government not to give in to pressures from Newmont Mining Corporation to implement their proposed Conga Project, which plans to dry up four natural water  reserves, they also asked for the enviromental damage mining causes to the región to stop.

During  the past months, the Conga and Yanacocha  projects have experienced intermittent  work stoppages as a result of ongoing protests in the region.  Beginning in October 2011, anti-mining activists expressed concerns about perceived impacts of the Project on the local water supply and the habitat. Peruvian people support  the idea of an environmental impact assessment done by and independent agency  and  in consultation with local communities.  So far the American company has spent millions of dollars in promoting the case for mining by buying the authorities’ influence and that of journalists who support their arguments in the media.  Meanwhile the defenders of the environment are making use of the internet and public demonstrations like the sucessful march that ocurred in Lima on the 10th of February which paralized Lima´s city centre.

Daniel Abugattás, President of Congress, in an analysis of the conflict over the Conga Project,  has confirmed  recently that the government policy prioritises water before giving way to mining, he has also criticized the history of the Yanacocha Company, who is in charge of that project.  Abugatas stated that the Yanacocha Mining Company  has been discredited by breaches of social responsibility and environmental protection, which has been one of the reasons for the conflict.  He also affirms that “Yanacocha has a 20-year history of non-compliance with Cajamarca and on the other hand, in the last 20 years we had a Ministry of Energy and Mines that has not represented the state nor the people of Peru”.

In the words of Abugatas, all these problems originated due to a lack of communication and there has been  no effort on the part of the government to explain its new policies.  This statement made by the President of the Congress could be the beginning of new government policies, but we have to be alert to the response of the right wing parties who are still in control of the countries economy.  And finally it is important that an explanation be given as to the reason for allowing North American troops onto Peruvian soil when it seems that the Peruvian police and army are successful in dealing with the narco terrorists.   It therefore seems strange to have North American  military patrols entering the country since it could be construed as a North American military intervention in the region.

President Ollanta Humala has said that he will respect the international commitments made by Perú but will seek to promote peaceful coexistence between mining  and water rights of the inhabitants. The international community has to be alert in order to defend democracy in Peru and not allow pressures from big companies or the United State’s  government to stop Peru’s transformation into a new type of country where prosperity reaches all Peruvians.