Time to reform the Peruvian system
Peru’s Congress finished choosing a new interim president, to loud applause, just after midnight on 16 November 2020. Francisco Sagasti (centre-right) replaced Manuel Merino (far right) who had stepped in just five days earlier to replace Martín Vizcarra (also on the right), deposed in an impeachment vote led by conservatives. Vizcarra had become caretaker in 2018, when former Wall Street banker Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, Peru’s last president elected by popular vote (in 2016), resigned over a bribery scandal. Kuczynski’s immediate predecessors, Ollanta Humala (2011-16), Alan García (2006-11) and Alejandro Toledo (2001-06), were all from the right too.
A year ago, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador saw mass protests against neoliberal economic policies. At that time Le Monde celebrated ‘the Peruvian exception’: ‘While other countries in the region have seen huge demonstrations in the last few months… Peruvians have shown a certain restraint when faced with the decline of their political class’. Last October, Le Monde wrote of ‘the fall of the house of Morales’ — referring to former Bolivian president Evo Morales, ousted by a coup in 2019 — just two weeks before his Movement for Socialism (MAS) party won a landslide victory in the general election. Le Monde turned out to be no more clear-sighted about Peru: there was little ‘restraint’ in the huge protests that forced Merino to resign on 15 November. But what can popular mobilisation hope to achieve against political instability, widespread corruption and institutional weakness?
Fujimori’s ‘self coup’
The problem goes back to the 1980s, when Peru faced a number of structural crises. Successive governments fought the guerrillas of the Shining Path and the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement; 69,280 Peruvians died or disappeared in the violence, which left Peruvian society deeply scarred. Meanwhile, the economic model established in the 1960s began to fail. (…)
Full article: 1 803 words.