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Military


Politics

Fernando Belaúnde Terry AP 28 Jul
1980
28 Jul
1985
Alan Gabriel Ludwig García PérezAPRA 28 Jul
1985
28 Jul
1990
Alberto Keinya FujimoriC'9028 Jul
1990
22 Nov
2000
Valentín Demetrio Paniagua CorazaoAP 22 Nov
2000
28 Jul
2001
Alejandro Celestino Toledo Manrique PP 28 Jul
2001
28 Jul
2006
Alan Gabriel Ludwig García Pérez APRA 28 Jul
2006
28 Jul
2011
Ollanta Moisés Humala TassoPNP 28 Jul
2011
28 Jul
2016
Pedro Pablo KUCZYNSKI Godard PPC28 Jul
2016
21 Mar
2018
Martin Alberto Vizcarra CornejoPPC21 Mar
2018
28 Jul
2021

Latin America’s fifth largest nation has historically been, and continues to be, divided along linguistic and class lines. Lima, the national capital, is the apex of the hierarchy and smaller settlements and rural areas are at its base.

Peru's socioeconomic and political disarray has taken on its present pattern after decades of extravagant demographic change, a truncated land reform that never received effective funding or ancillary support as needed in education, and incessant promises of development, jobs, and progress without fulfillment. Peru experienced an increasing "hegemonic" crisis — the dispersion of power away from the traditional triumvirate of oligarchy, church, and armed forces.

With the resumption of elections in 1980, a process that was reaffirmed in 1985 (and again in 1990), "redemocratization" confronted a number of problems. The end of military rule left in its wake an enormous political vacuum that the political parties — absent for twelve years and historically weak — and a proliferating number of new groups were hard-pressed to fill. Even under the best of circumstances, given Peru's highly fragmented and heterogeneous society, as well as its long history of authoritarian and oligarchical rule, effective democratic government would have been difficult to accomplish.

The formal political system's ability to address Peru's main challenges and resolve social conflicts is complicated by a series of structural factors. The weakness or absence of the state in large swaths of national territory, and its inability to provide basic public services -- from security to health -- underly them all. Even in this complicated context, however, the legislative branch is in particularly dire straits. Popular support for Congress -- in theory the arena in which social compromises are forged, conflicts mediated and national strategies debated and decided -- has been abysmally low and plunged to 11% in June 2009 polls.

Several pro-system legislators have complained about the large number of current members of Congress who have no history with any party and no training or experience to prepare them for elected office, which tilts them toward "informal" practices. As of 2009 over 80% of Congressional representatives were on their first term.

It is a tradition in Peruvian politics that an incoming government supports criminal investigations of a hostile outgoing government, as the Fujimori regime did with respect to Alan Garcia's APRA administration, and as the Toledo Government had done with respect to Fujimori and his followers. Apart from opposing the government's pragmatic approach to economic matters, these "informal" congressional representatives tend to engage in thinly disguised demagoguery, presenting poorly-conceived legislation that seeks to benefit a small minority in their regions or that has absolutely no chance of being implemented in the real world. They also bring anti-system tactics to the chambers of Congress, attacking the legitimacy of the institution from within, calling for a variety of politically exotic goals.

Peru remains fertile territory for anti-system radicals seeking to take advantage of an opportunity to turn the tables around, and to convert Peru from the camp of pro-growth pragmatism to that of vague "21st century socialism" a la Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. anti-system elements are pursuing a conscious and well-planned political strategy to undermine Peru's progress, weaken the government and lay the groundwork for a more systematic assault on the pro-growth model.

Like other nations in Latin America, Peru had acknowledged the need to conduct land reform. In the 1960s, it began an extensive program to redistribute land to peasants from the previous hacienda system. The Peruvian highlands, however, did not receive much support from these initiatives. But a large portion of the country had been satisfied with land reforms and changes in the former hacienda system. Additionally, 1980 marked a return to free elections for Peru, which included participation by Marxist political parties.

The limited state presence in large portions of the interior challenges the Government’s ability to ensure broad-based development for all Peruvians. Peru’s tropical forests are increasingly threatened by shifting migration patterns, unsustainable exploitation of the forest, and the destructive impact of illicit coca production and processing. The lack of government presence in these areas allows drug trafficking, illegal logging, terrorism and other criminal practices to flourish, creating a corrupt, violent and conflictive environment that limits economic opportunities and prevents sustainable economic growth and development.

It is important to emphasize that "state abandonment" and its succession of unfortunate consequences long predate Peru's modern age, liberal economic model or current government, with roots that go back several hundred years to the Colonial and Republican eras. Roads and infrastructure linking the poor highlands with the more prosperous coast remain in disrepair or are nonexistent. Lima, with its population of more than seven million, continues to dominate the national government’s resources and focus.

Its economic success of recent years notwithstanding, Peru remains fertile terrain for anti-system radicals, with persistent endemic poverty and social inequality, the absence of the state from large swaths of national territory, and clumsy, sometimes jarring public action when the state does intervene. But if these kinds of structural factors have played a role in protests, so has a radical anti-system political project that is seeking to take political advantage of them to undermine Peru's progress, weaken the government and lay the groundwork for a more systematic assault on the pro-growth model.

Public and private statements by the diverse and not necessarily unified leaders of the anti-system movement paint a compelling portrait of their real aims, which can be summarized in the words of one Peruvian indigenous leader that "Evo Morales is our President." Foreign participation in this anti-system movement, including from Bolivia, is real but maybe not as central as some analysts maintain.

Peru continues to have a cornucopia of fragmented radical groups with self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninist or Maoist political philosophies. Some of these organizations are said to be fronts for remnants of Shining Path or MRTA, and sometimes overlap with the main teachers' union (SUTEP), the Marxist party Patria Roja and the radical group Vanguardia.

The progress of Peru's real agenda so far was insufficient to overcome the serious, deep-seated challenges that underlie latent political instability. If poverty rates have fallen to below 40%, a politically significant number of Peruvians continues to live in precarious conditions, with close to 20% of the population at or near subsistence level. The distribution of wealth is also uneven, with the country's most deeply entrenched pockets of poverty located in the southern highlands and Amazon regions -- not coincidentally also the areas where the state is virtually absent and anti-government sentiment and political instability are greatest.

In some areas, Catholic Church representatives have aligned themselves with Amazon protesters as part of an ongoing struggle against private investors in the region, arguing that the latter contaminate the jungle and impede equitable development. Investors are caricatured as rapacious capitalists, abrasively indifferent to the concerns of locals and plotting only to steal their land.

Political parties operated without restriction or outside interference, although they remained weak institutions dominated by individual personalities. In regional and local elections, regional movements continued to gain ground at the expense of national parties. By law groups that advocate violent overthrow of the government, including the political group linked to the Shining Path, MOVADEF, are not permitted to register as political parties.

Significant delays in the collective bargaining process due to employers’ lack of interest in concluding agreements proved to be a common obstacle to compliance with worker rights to bargain collectively. Workers employed under laws to promote the textile, apparel, and agriculture industries faced obstacles to exercise the right to collective bargaining. Workers in the public sector, such as the employees of the stock exchange, and the mining sector faced the same obstacles.

The law prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor, but the government did not effectively enforce the law. Resources, inspections, and remediation were inadequate for effective enforcement of the law. Thousands of persons were estimated to be subjected to conditions of forced labor, mainly in mining, forestry, agriculture, brick making, and domestic service. There were reports that men and boys were subjected to bonded labor in mining (including gold mining), forestry, and brick making, while women were most often found working under conditions of domestic servitude. Both men and women were reported working in bonded labor in agriculture.

The law provides all citizens equality before the law and forbids discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, or language. Nevertheless, persons of African (Afro-Peruvian) descent faced societal discrimination and prejudice. Afro-Peruvians generally did not hold leadership positions in government, business, or the military. Few Afro-Peruvians served as officers in the navy or air force.

Many indigenous persons lacked identity documents. In many cases there were no government offices in the areas where they lived; in some instances government officials allegedly sought bribes in exchange for documents, which indigenous persons were unable or unwilling to pay. Indigenous peoples often faced threats from illegal miners and loggers who operated near or within their claimed land holdings. Indigenous leaders raised concerns that the government was unable to protect indigenous communities from these threats, due in part to the relative isolation of indigenous communities within the Amazon provinces.

Although political violence against investors is rare, protests, sometimes violent, have taken place in or near communities with extractive industry operations. Environmental concerns were often the cited pretext. Protestors often object to the fact that environmental impact assessments are reviewed by the Ministry of Energy and Mines, rather than the Ministry of Environment, when in fact, the Ministry of Environment along with other national agencies do participate in assessment reviews. In many cases, protestors sought public services not provided by the government. Ideological opposition to foreign mining firms, not opposition to mining itself, often leads to protest in communities incited by NGOs.

In some cases, organizers from outside the local community are brought in to foment protests against the companies. Groups blocked roads and an airport in 2014 to protest extractive industry operations; hydroelectric projects; restrictions on informal gold mining, gas exports, and the Government's coca eradication policies. In several of these protests, police and civilians were injured or killed. As of February 2015, the Ombudsperson’s Office reported 211 conflicts in Peru; 67% of these conflicts involve socio-economic concerns, usually linked to extractive industries.

Politically motivated movements at times have opposed large extractive projects. In some cases, these movements have been successful in delaying large investments, as occurred in the USD 4.8 billion Conga mine project in Cajamarca in August 2012. In other cases, protests have stopped such investments entirely.

Violence remained a concern in coca-growing regions. The government reported that through October 2014, the Shining Path conducted 18 terrorist acts, resulting in the death of two soldiers and two civilians, as well as injuries to six soldiers, seven civilians, and one police officer in the Apurimac, Ene, and Mantaro River Valleys (VRAEM) emergency zone, which includes parts of Ayacucho, Cusco, Huancavelica, Huanuco, and Junin regions. A separate emergency zone in the Upper Huallaga Valley (UHV) includes parts of San Martin and Ucayali regions.

In Peruvian democracy, without bona fide parties, the influence of the mass media in shaping the electoral agenda and voting intentions is magnified. A free press that provides a plurality of viewpoints and information, is vital for the free formation of citizen preferences, and ultimately for the health and vibrancy of a democracy. Peru’s mass media fall ignominiously short of that standard. While electoral politics inexorably includes emotional and entertainment components, in Peru these qualities are enormously magnified by mass media.

It was difficult to disagree with writer Mario Vargas Llosa’s disheartening diagnosis: "There are no integrated political visions . . . [Electoral] politics in Peru has moved from being ideologicalin a mediocre fashion [in the 1980s] to sadly become an enterprise of showmanship . . What dominates is spectacle, not ideas or political convictions".



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Page last modified: 06-06-2021 18:16:57 ZULU