How does Peru emerge from the political and social crisis? | OP-ED
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Historical social inequality, popular unrest, political fragility and a paper democracy have Peru in a crisis whose outcome is uncertain. The trigger for the current situation was the dismissal of Pedro Castillo as president and his arrest on December 7th, after he ordered the closure of Congress.
Today Dina Boluarte, Castillo’s Vice-president, is the sixth head of state in four years, a clear example of political instability. But even more serious is the social explosion that has left more than 60 people dead as a result of official repression, the police raid on the University of San Marcos, a partial paralysis of the country and the unwillingness of those who have always held power to resist change.
The instability in the Presidency goes hand in hand with an article in the Constitution that allows Congress to remove the head of state for “temporary or permanent incapacity”, an expeditious route when the president is opposed by members of Congress.
On the other hand, the protest is the consequence, not the cause, of a situation that has become unsustainable and leaves Peru in a bad light. Moreover, for the region, it is a bad example of the way in which institutions and, ultimately, democracy are jeopardized. Hence the voices of rejection of what happened on December 7th and the call by several presidents for dialogue to recompose the situation and achieve a stable and sustainable solution.
A Colombian businessman, who has interests in Peru, went so far as to say in November that Peru is a wonderful country because it doesn’t matter who is in the Presidency because, in the end, it is the businessmen and Congress who are in charge. He said this to justify the fact that there are no problems there for investors like him and it does not depend on who is president.
This supposed stability argued by the businessman is not so true. On the contrary, today it turns out to be a crisis over which there is no will on the right to make really effective and timely decisions. The early call for elections and a constitutional reform that gives visibility to excluded sectors and the recognition of rights would be audacious and convenient paths.
The aforementioned businessman, without intending to do so, made a faithful X-ray of the Peruvian situation. Power is in the hands of a few who bring in and out presidents, who control Congress, the judiciary, the economy and the most influential media.
Researchers like Julio Roldán, a Peruvian sociologist based in Germany, emphasise this diagnosis in order to draw attention to the fact that the problem is not Castillo or any of the presidents who have lost their heads. It is the system itself.
Added to this is the polarisation between fujimoristas and anti-fujimoristas, with no middle ground. Despite being imprisoned and convicted of human rights violations, Alberto Fujimori (president between 1990 and 2000) continues to weigh on Peru’s destiny. Even the Constitution he approved is still in force.
It is ashamed to say it, but the same is true in Peru as in other parts of the continent: deep-rooted racism and contempt for indigenous peoples, Afro and farmer communities and, in general, for the excluded. It implies effective decentralisation and that Lima should not concentrate development, as has always been the situation.
As long as there is no real will to overcome discrimination and gain access to economic, social and political inclusion, it will be difficult to turn the page.
The remedy has been invented, but those who have brought Peru to this situation are reluctant to give an inch in their pretensions and actions to widen the gap between themselves and the vast majority.
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