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Wednesday, April 19, 2006 CE

Importance of the Peruvian presidential elections


I decided to write about the presidential elections in Peru, my home country, because Diane S, asked me to in a comment about another post. Sometime ago, (March 2005 and June 2006) I wrote posts regarding Latin American politics, however, I found that the topic was not of the interest of the regular crowd that reads my blog.

There has been a concern for the US that Latin America, specially South America, is electing left wing governments, with policies that are at odds with the USA's plan for the region. The most significant example is the government of Chavez in Venezuela. Currently, out of the 10 major countries in South America, 7 have left wing leaning governments. Of them, Venezuela's goverment is the most anti-US, as opposed to Chile's goverment which, in spite of being socialist, is at good terms with America. Only Peru, Colombia and Paraguay do not have leftist governments.

Peru had presidential elections on April 9th. The winner with about 30% of the vote was Ollanta Humala, a former commander of the Army who became notorious after he led an uprising in 2000 against the corrupt goverment of Alberto Fujimori. Unlike what many people believe (including an article in Wikipedia), he is not a left-leaning politician. He embraces a nationalist, populist ideology with elements of Indian supremacy ideas. The second place and third place in the elections have not been decided yet, because the count shows a very slim difference between the center-left politician Alan Garcia and the center-right candidate Lourdes Flores, who would be the preferred of the US. Ollanta Humala will compete against any of the 2 mentioned candidates in a run-off to be held in May.

I am open to questions regading the topic, hopefully some people find it interesting.

12 Comments:

Blogger Diane S. said...

I'm indebted to Marco for explaining the political situation in Peru to me, as the evening news was merely vague and ominous. I was also a bit concerned for his well-being if he were to discuss it with me, as I had (and have) no idea of the extent to which Peru monitors communications beyond the borders (though I suspect it is less than the U.S.), or the penalties one might incur for being critical of the Peruvian government.

Marco has told me he does not hesitate to speak his mind and is no stranger to tear gas (two things which are certain to gain my respect.)

Being a leftist, I'm naturally quite happy with most of South America's governments, though I have typical American fears about disappearances, secret prisons, and lack of civil rights. I've come to see the U.S. as a place to be concerned about these things, and such is a reflection of the times.

That the U.S. has plans for Latin America is such an example of American hubris that it sickens (but does not surprise) me. It is among my fondest hopes that someday the US will quit meddling in the politics of other countries.

Americans, as a people, tend to be largely ignorant of the politics of any country, often including our own. It is a small globe people, and we are all in this together.

Marco, thank you for taking the time to post this. I hope you will update it following th May run-off elections.

11:41 PM  
Blogger IGOR said...

Hello. My name is Igor and I am proud to be a close friend of Marco, as we went to the same medical school in Peru and then came to the same hospital here in the US. This is my first comment, but surely not the last.

I would like to expand somewhat the information about the political situation in Peru. Sounds to me like Diane is concerned about our liberty and rights. Although Peru is a third world country, and bears corruption and political chaos, it is a free country in which you can speak at will about the government and oppose to it without major problems. Actually, politics are a matter of continous debate among people and in the news, and there are no penalties at all no matter what is your opinion, at least no more than in other "free" countries, like the US itself.

My political tendence has been traditionally more inclined to the right, but lately I wrote an article to my peruvian partners in which I invite them to consider Humala's plan in an objective way. Humala is nationalist and socialist but in my opinion, according to his stated government plan, his ideas are not radical nor communist, as is feared by a large number of peruvians. The figure of Chavez is actually negative for Humala, as a large number of peruvians feel liberty and democracy are currently under threat in Venezuela, and it is feared that Humala and Chavez may have the same radical and intolerant plan. Society in Peru is strongly divided, only a small minority of the country has access to welth and education, and this group is mostly right-oriented, sometimes even in a dogmatic way, and is easy to understand they are afraid of losing their posessions if Humala turns out to be a communist intolerant, but I think that it will not be the case.

Mr. Garcia, one of the other candidates, was our president for 5 years from 1985 to 1990 with disastrous consequences to the country. In my opinion it was possibly the worst period in our republican history. Not only grossly corrupted, but completely wrong in both internal and external politics, put the country in one of the worst social and economical crisis of our history.

The last one, Lourdes Flores, has strong ties with the small but economically powerful circle that basically has ruled the country forever. Her ideas are more equilibrated than Humala's and she has the image of being clear and fair, as well as well prepared and intelligent. Her only problem is that she is sorrounded by old, dubious politicians of the right side, and some of us believe she may rule in the best interest of the economical cupule, instead of the majority of the poor people.

As I see the situation now, we have no real good choice. Humala may be a good candidate, but who knows how radical he may turn out to be, and how irrespectful of civil rights he may become. Garcia is obviously a known disaster, and Flores is good in appearance, but probably not different from several previous right oriented governments.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Truth Seeker said...

Diane,

Your wrote "That the U.S. has plans for Latin America is such an example of American hubris that it sickens (but does not surprise) me."

1. I interpret you to mean that wanting other nations to move toward democracy, property rights, religious freedom, and free commerce is hubris. Is that right?
2. Why is it hubris to want these things for others? Americans receive glogal criticism for not helping others rise out of poverty and oppression. These "plans" are the key elements of freedom and security.

You also wrote "It is among my fondest hopes that someday the US will quit meddling in the politics of other countries."

When people in a nation recognize that these are the elements of freedom and seek our help in advancing them, why is it wrong for us to particiapte? I say it is wrong for us to turn away.

You then wrote Americans, as a people, tend to be largely ignorant of the politics of any country, often including our own. It is a small globe people, and we are all in this together.

1. I agree that this is accurate to a degree.
2. I also say it unfairly singles out Americans. A lot of people in the world know their politics, the politics of their immediate neighbors, and American politics. They only know American politics because our actions so obviously affect others in the world.
3. As Americans we know our politics and our neighbors politics. We used to follow Soviet politics when they were such a major player. I submit we will become more acquainted with Chinese and Indian politics in the next few years as they increase their dominance.

Diane, what do you know about the politics in Poland? How about you Marco? How about anybody else at this blog other than Polish bloggers? How about New Zealand politics? Finish politics? Pakistani politics?

Truth is, people like to state that American's are ignorant. We might be. That doesn't mean that the rest of the world isn't any less ignorant.

Q

11:17 AM  
Blogger Truth Seeker said...

Diane,

One other point. The people on the left like to say Americans are ignorant of their own politics. They usually mean Americans on the right. That is leftist hubris that I have launched at me frequently. Just because I disagree with you doesn't mean I'm ignorant.

Q

11:21 AM  
Blogger Doctor Marco said...

Diane S

I agree with you. he Us has plans for Latin America. It is not wrong, it is logical. The US is the most powerful country on Earth and it certainly does not want the neighbours working against it. I will definitely update you with respect to the run-off.

8:03 PM  
Blogger Doctor Marco said...

Igor:

Thanks for your nice words. I am also proud to be a friend of yours, one of the most rational minds that I know. I agree with your overall analysis of the major 3 candidates. Believe it or not, I am more scared of Humala than of Garcia. I think that whoever wins has to have our support to keep the economic growth that the country has enjoyed for the last 5 years.

8:06 PM  
Blogger Doctor Marco said...

Q:

The US has always said that it wants democracy, freedom, property rights and religious tolerance. However, the paradox is that all the dictatorships that the US supported caused disappearences, mass executions, torture, etc. Look at the Chilean example, look at the Argentinian example. Look at the Uruguayan example. Look at the Bolivian example. Look at the Paraguayan example. Peru, under Fujimori and Montesinos, a former CIA informant, was also supported by the US. All in the name of "anticommunism". I would say that the US placed the value of anticommunism as more important than democracy or human rights, throught the 60's, 70's, 80's, and early 90's. when the Cold War was over, then the value of anticommunism lost importance. and the US "improved its behavior".
I agree completely with Igor's quote:

"Although Peru is a third world country, and bears corruption and political chaos, it is a free country in which you can speak at will about the government and oppose to it without major problems. Actually, politics are a matter of continous debate among people and in the news, and there are no penalties at all no matter what is your opinion, at least no more than in other "free" countries, like the US itself."

South American countries have a small, but very well educated middle class, which is need for support for not sinking into poverty and from abuse from the even smaller but powerful upper class.

I do not know about the details of Polish politics, because Poland is not a mejor country in the world. However, in Peru you can easily find a debate amongst middle-class Peruvians about American politics, e.g, Bush, Kerry, immigration, drugs, Cold War, nuclear weapons, etc.

8:19 PM  
Blogger Sherril said...

Marcos,
Thank you for this post. I don't know why your readers would not be interested in this subject. Of all the subjects you write about, what could be more appreciated than the one you may know best, your homeland. So, keep us informed about Peru. I for one would like to read more about the country, not just the politics, but the culture, the food, the people, etc. How often do Americans get to have friends, albeit cyber-friends, from Peru? Guárdelo el venir. Continúe con igual. Dénos más

Sherril

ps Marcos, I miss you at my blog...some on over.

12:00 AM  
Blogger Truth Seeker said...

Marco,

I do not know anything about the activities sponsored or supported by the US in South America.

So I won't dare to argue with you using facts. I would say this using logic...

Many times we have to deal with the best alternative even if that alternative is not good. For example, the best alternative to affect influence in Syria would likely be an alliance with a heavy handed tyrant.

We have to consider many factors besides the individual's personal beliefs and character. Factors like support from the local police, support from the military, influence in neighboring countries, etc.

I have no doubt that the US has made poor decisions - people make mistakes. I just don't believe the consipracy theories about every president being controlled by the CIA, every Senator being owned by big business, etc. and making nothing but self-centered decisions.

I completely agree with you that it is logical for the US to have plans for other nations. We tried isolationism circa 1900 and there is no proof that it helped anything. Ditto 1930's. All it did was give a big head start to the Germans (twice) and the Japanese.

Q

8:50 AM  
Blogger Truth Seeker said...

Diane S.

I just visited your blog. It seems we don't have much in common beyond both living in the Texas Hill Country - which would likely have to change if we gave the reparations you suggest to the Indian nations that ruled here 150 years ago.

I'll think about visiting and participating in your blog, but will share that I haven't found it very fruitful to visit similar blogs where people want to totally redo America.

Q

9:05 AM  
Blogger Sherril said...

Marcos,
Pick up a copy of the latest New Yorker magazine and open it just about exactly in the middle and you will find a pleasant surprise.

S's Myriad of Musings

1:31 AM  
Blogger L-girl said...

For a long time, I've been thinking how this is a great opportunity for Latin America, as the US is so preoccupied in the Middle East, they are less able to meddle in South and Central American affairs. They still can (and do) of course, but it has to be less than, say, during the Reagan years.

I've been confused about conflicting information about Humala, whether or not he is this notorious general, whether or not he is actually leftist. I'm glad to read some clarification here.

Having just returned from Peru, I can say it seems clear from polls and the media there that Alan Garcia will win. But I don't really know what Alan - as he's always called - stands for, what he's about. If you wanted to post something about that, I'd be very interested.

Oops... I see that some other commenters have done that already. I'll read this now.

10:41 AM  

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