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Peru: self-absorbed and immobilized political power

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Peru: self-absorbed and immobilized political power

THE Inca NATION continues to be trapped in a marked deterioration of its political class, unable to provide answers and connect with a fractured country that has seen 48 people die in direct confrontations since December 7.

Although the rejected proposal to advance the general elections to this year still has a chance with the reconsideration that will be presented today in Congress, some political scientists are skeptical that progress will be achieved.

“This is a toxic Congress: It is rejected by 88% of the population, according to surveys; it is branded by (the civil association) Proética as the most corrupt institution, it is the most discredited Legislative in the region in the Latinobarómetro,” recalled Alonso Cárdenas , from the London School of Economics.

“Congress, like almost the entire political class in Peru, lives with its back to the country, it doesn’t understand it,” added Roger Santa Cruz, from the Antonio Ruiz de Montoya Jesuit University in Lima.

In the early hours of Saturday, after more than seven hours of debate with reproaches, Parliament rejected the proposal of Hernando Guerra García, of the Fuerza Popular party (FP), so that the elections would no longer take place in April 2024, as expected, but in October of this year, so that the president and parliamentarians leave next December.

The proposal by Guerra García, who his adversaries say was following orders from the FP leader, Keiko Fujimori, was also a response to President Dina Boluarte, who urged on Friday to anticipate the elections to get out of the “quagmire”.

According to Santa Cruz, the doubts of Fujimori’s rivals are reasonable: “Popular Force has bases throughout the country. It has more capacity for a short campaign. Its thing is political calculation,” he said.

The Renovación Popular and Avanza País parties, which share the space furthest to the right with Fujimorismo in the ideological spectrum of Congress, separated from their ally and swept away Guerra García’s project.

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“mediocre” reasons

“The alliance that supports Boluarte is cracking,” Cárdenas warned.

The current president was elected vice president by the leftist Peru Libre party, but since she succeeded the ousted Pedro Castillo on December 7, her support is based on the conservative benches.

The left also has its share of responsibility in this lack of political agreement to get out of the crisis, because it conditions its vote to the early elections to a referendum for a Constituent Assembly, a possibility rejected by broad sectors of power.

“The left knows that its proposal will never have support from the right,” said Cárdenas, for whom the issue is used as a pretext to negotiate minor benefits.

“These are quite mediocre reasons (on both sides). Not ideological, nor of the country’s model. They are issues like holding on to the charges for a few more months,” he added.

The experts also highlighted among the weaknesses of the current Congress, the fact that it is divided into more than ten political forces, in addition to independent congressmen, without strong leadership or personalities that generate consensus.

For this reason, according to Cárdenas and Santa Cruz, the eventual resignation of Boluarte would not necessarily alleviate tensions because figures of “democratic personalities, linked to human rights, consultants, with experience” have not emerged, as was the case after the departure of Alberto Fujimori (1990 -2000) Valentín Paniagua or Francisco Sagasti in 2020 after the fall of the government of Martín Vizcarra (2018-2020).

‘Rebel Congresses’

Peru has had six presidents since 2018, from the right, from the center, from the left. A fire to which the political class contributes more fire than water and in which Congress seems to limit its function to fighting with the Executive.

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It all started in 2016 with President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who despite being right-wing, was targeted by the Fujimori bench until 2018, when he managed to remove him for having defeated their leader, Keiko Fujimori.

His replacement, Martín Vizcarra, suffered the same fate, and his successor imposed by Congress, Manuel Merino, was ousted in 2020 by a five-day riot in the streets of Lima.

The story continued with Castillo, who waged a war against Congress that ended with his dismissal, also produced after he tried to close the Legislative and govern by decree. That’s where the story of Boluarte began.

In the midst of the current upheaval, tougher in the relegated southern Andes, there is no guarantee that better authorities will emerge from the elections in 2023 or 2024, both political scientists concluded.

“The political solution is in a political reform, but these politicians have to do that reform,” Cárdenas ironized.

After the refusal on Saturday morning, today there will be a second attempt in Congress to advance the general elections to this year, as requested by President Dina Boluarte, trying to find a way out of the serious social and political crisis that the country has been going through since seven weeks ago.

Congress, with 45 votes in favor, 65 against and two abstentions, rejected the initiative to advance the presidential elections to October 2023, initially scheduled for April 2024.

“With this vote, the constitutional reform proposal for the advancement of elections is rejected,” closed the president of Congress, José Williams.

At the close of the session, with verbal discussions between rival congressmen in the background, the Fujimorismo presented a “reconsideration” of this vote that will be analyzed today, although it is very difficult for the result to be reversed.

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Boluarte regretted that Congress rejected the advancement of the elections for this year and urged that personal and partisan interests be set aside to “pave a way out of the political crisis.”

“We regret that the Congress of the Republic has not been able to agree to define the date of the general elections, where Peruvians can freely and democratically elect the new authorities,” Boluarte wrote on Twitter.

“We urge the benches to put down their partisan interests and place the interests of Peru above,” added the president.

Boluarte, whose 50 days in office have been marked by protests against him that left 47 civilians and a police officer dead in clashes, had asked on Friday that the elections be scheduled for December of this year, a way to get out of the “quagmire” more quickly. “current with scenes of blockades, scarcity and violence in different regions of Peru.

The number of fatalities rose on Saturday, after the parliamentary refusal, when a protester died in Lima, after being injured in violent clashes with the police in protests calling for Boluarte’s resignation.

“We regret the death of Víctor Santisteban Yacsavilca in the violent demonstrations,” the Ombudsman’s Office reported on its Twitter account.

This is the first death from the protests that has occurred in Lima. Precisely, last week Boluarte had said in a recount to the foreign press that the groups behind the violent protests “seek a death in Lima.”

“They say that a death in Lima is worth a hundred in the province,” lamented the president on Tuesday at the Government Palace.

Until now, the victims have been registered mainly in Puno and other regions in the south of the country, where Quechua and Aymara communities live.

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