Mainstream reporting from supposedly left leaning publications has in my view been wholly inadequate when addressing the upcoming (Sunday)
Peruvian presidential election. It's as if it has been co-opted toward the right without framing the issues adequately with necessary weighting toward those who are most vulnerable and have the most to lose. Instead reports have been weighted around questions such as is neoliberalism correct for Peru? (When was that ever a reasonable question for the left) or non-commital centred around the notion of an overall lack of choice; the oft quoted Vargas Llosa 'Choosing between candidates like Keiko and Humala is like opting between cancer and AIDS'. That's not to deny that there are reasonable grounds to throw mud at both remaining candidates but what about framing the issues from an indigenous perspective, those at the cole-face of social and environmental justice, what do they think? Well here there is no longer need to be bamboozled by the rhetoric, the latest wiki-leaks cable and so on, here the choice is obvious and it's in this spirit this article is written and it's Humala all the way. The following is a montage from various sources referenced below. 1. What do the ‘left’ indigenous peoples, activists and human rights organisations think?
According a report by the ombudsperson's office, there were 233 protest demonstrations in the country in the month of April alone, most of which were held in the poorest regions, involving socio-environmental complaints and demands. There has been an overt lack of acknowledgment of these concerns in left leaning mainstream western media. In the first round of voting, on April 10, Ollanta Humala won in the regions with the highest poverty rates, predominantly in the rural highland regions of Apurimac, Huancavelica and Ayacucho. Aidesep the organisation of Peruvian indigenous people in the Amazon are calling on all Peruvians to vote for Ollanta. They released this statement, translated by Derek Wall: The CDN of Aidesep has today exhorted the people and all Peruvians to vote with hope, without fear, without forgetting, on 5th June voting for a country without discrimination, respecting the rights of indigenous people to free self-determination of their ancestral territories and respecting international law with convention 169 of the ODT and the UN declaration of Indigenous people.
In this context, the polarization of the presidential campaign is depressing where the injury, the lies, the insults are transformed into the main form of media communication, forgetting the suffering of our country in the 1990s during the Fujimara government, the seizure of the main forms of media communication including writing, radio and audiovisual, the forced disappearance of college students, the control of judiciary, the destruction of the constitutional Tribunal, the buying of Congress, the armed forces, etc.
So the (indigenous) people have decided to support the project because Gana Perú as the best replacement option for the country, because they (Humala's Party) supported indigenous peoples during the peaceful protests of 2008 and 2009, where we sought to stop the government of Alan Garcia from meeting his dream of deforesting the Amazon for cash.
It’s not just in rural areas that people are mobilizing for Humala and against Fujimori:
On Thursday, May 26, thousands of people took to the streets in Lima, and activists organized various actions and marches across the nation against Keiko Fujimori, and the political Fujimorismo
that she embodies. Silva Santisteban, a human rights leader participating in the march, told La Republica
newspaper. . “Keiko Fujimori represents the worst period in our history, we don’t want this dark period of our history to return and that’s why we're in the streets.”
The activists were mobilizing largely under the banner of The National Coordinator of Human Rights and the “Fujimori Never Again” Collective, which brings together 79 social and activist organizations. With their chants and banners they urged voters to not to vote for Fujimori in the upcoming elections.
Concordantly this statement was released in the Peruvian Times, viewing Fujimori as a threat to human rights, democracy and the most vulnerable in Peru:As political scientists we especially value democratic government, because it permits pluralism and open debate, it protects fundamental liberties and human rights, restrains opportunities for corruption and favours achieving agreements that generate development and public policies in favour of the most vulnerable population.2. What do the polls say?
Two or three weeks ago the Keiko team had been confident of a safe though perhaps not solid victory. The latest survey by the Ipsos Apoyo polling firm shows Fujimori in the lead, with 50.5 per cent support, but just one point ahead of Humala, who has 49.5 per cent. According to another leading pollster, Imasen, Humala is the front-runner, with 43.8 per cent support, but barely ahead of Fujimori, with 42.5 per cent.3. What did daddy do? And will daddy's girl be any different?
When Alberto Fujimori came to power in 1990 he unleashed neoliberal reforms, often referred to as the Fujishock. Electricity costs quintupled, water prices rose eightfold, and gasoline prices rose by 3000%. In this period Peru was made ripe for capitalism and globalisation. It wasn’t enough however for Alberto, feeling that Congress i.e. democracy was holding him back. With the support of the military he carried out a presidential coup and formed a dictatorship.
During his reign torture, murder, rape, and the disappearance of thousands of Peruvians took place in the midst of the Shining Path guerrilla movement. Amnesty International stated “the widespread and systematic nature of human rights violations committed during the government of former head of state Alberto Fujimori (1990–2000) in Peru constitutes crimes against humanity under international law.”
He is serving a 25-year sentence for embezzlement and directing death squads.
In addition, from 1996-2000 Fujimori’s administration waged a sterilization campaign against poor, indigenous and rural women. As a result c.300, 000 women in rural and marginalized urban communities were sterilized without
consent. Note the image in the top left. This painful past of what could be considered a form of ethnic cleansing has clearly not been forgotten but remarkably has not condemned his daughter’s chances of success. Even more remarkable, when one considers that Fujimori junior is surrounding herself with her father’s advisors, the very same people who supported his ‘crimes against humanity’. During an interview with Beto Ortiz,
the host of TV program Buenos Dias Peru, Keiko Fujimori’s vice president running mate, Rafael Rey, was questioned about the government’s forced sterilization program in the 1990’s and about a specific woman Mrs Victoria Vigo. The interview has caused concern among human rights organizations, Rey said the forced sterilization of Victoria Vigo was not “against”
her will, but rather “without”
her will. As if this was adequate justification. He went on to say that “while doing an operation, they sterilized her, without being consulted.”
When Host Ortiz pointed out reports in the media that Vigo was forcefully sterilized by the government she made the analogy. “Is that to say that if one is castrated while sleeping, it is not against your will but without your will?”
Rey lamely responded that NGOs and human rights organizations supported the government program. Daniel Roca, the Coordinator of National Organizations of People Affected by Political Violence in Peru (Covanip
), rejected that claim. “Human rights organizations and associations for victims of internal violence have never kept silent in the face of the sterilizations,”
Another rare blunder in an otherwise polished campaign came from Ms. Fujimori’s main spokesman Jorge Trelles. When asked about Mr. Fujimori’s record he flippantly replied “We killed fewer people than the two prior governments”The making of Daddy’s girl:
A few years before Fujimori’s reign ended with his incarceration he had separated from his wife Susana Higuchi. He formally stripped her of the First Lady title and gave it to his daughter Keiko instead. Susana Higuchi publicly denounced Fujimori as a “tyrant” and claimed that his administration was corrupt. She claimed that she herself had been tortured.
Many human rights activists in Peru believe the younger Fujimori signals the resurgence of her father’s dictatorial policies, what’s more she has been frank about her mission to free her father. In 2008, she famously said that after being elected president, her “hand would not tremble” if she signed a pardon for her father. She has been more guarded since then, recognizing that a pardon would be unconstitutional, there is little doubt that she’ll do what she can to help her father and that this is a large part of her motivation for running. Upside down world reports that Hector Bejal, a Peruvian lawyer and member of Global Call to Action Against Poverty has stated that:“There is no doubt that she would encourage judicial powers to end the sentence or give him home detention, citing his age or sickness”
Wikileaks have released cables that corroborate suspicions that if elected Keiko might use her power and influence to gain political amnesty for her disgraced father. In a 2006 communication with US diplomats in Lima both she and uncle Santiago Fujimori told the Americans that they sought to cut political deals with the government in exchange for an end to "political persecution" of Alberto
The above mentioned views are summarised in this statement reported in the Peruvian Times: Owing to these considerations of principle we are very concerned about the election of Ms Fujimori as President of the Republic, as it will constitute a vindication of her father’s government which, precisely, wiped out democracy in Peru and imposed an authoritarian regime that committed crimes against humanity as policy organized from the height of power and turned exclusion, patronage, abuse and corruption into its principal mechanisms of government.
The current Fujimori campaign, unfortunately, has not broken away from the practices that we deplored in the Alberto Fujimori government. In the past several weeks we have seen how their spokespersons have praised, justified or minimized these practices, which makes it impossible for us to believe that Ms. Fujimori represents a different and democratic government. Therefore, and because we believe that the defence of democratic values is fundamental to our commitment to Peru, we declare that we are against Keiko Fujimori’s candidacy.Lastly, independently of who wins the presidential elections, we believe that we will need to remain alert to any attempt to act above the rule of law and democratic institutions.”4. Who wants K?
Money talks as clearly here as anywhere else and what the market is saying is that it expects from a Fujimori government all the good things and more that it got from Alberto, i.e. pro-business, pro-growth legislation and non-bloated administration (dictatorship!) Stock markets shot up sharply by seven points on Thursday, as polls favoured Fujimori. Backed by record copper, gold, silver and other exports and a massive tract of rainforest to exploit, Wall Street will have a clear favourite. On the flipside Wikileaks cables confirm that the US view Humala as a threat.5. Don’t believe the spin
Keiko Fujimori’s campaign has been polished and ‘silver-tongued’. She knows rhetoric and how to play the game. For example through grinning teeth she doesn’t say ‘crimes’, she says ‘errors’ or ‘mistakes’. She made light work of Humala in a last-ditch face-to-face TV appearance on Sunday evening Telling him “to go and talk it over with her dad in jail if he wanted to complain about the old days”
Propaganda is full of her hugging indigenous women, kissing indigenous babies and wearing indigenous costume. Matt Wootton a member of the England and Wales Green Party is currently in Peru and reports
that: Keiko’s campaign is a million times more slick than Ollanta Humala’s. You see, she even tricks me into calling her “Keiko”. The political party she’s created for this campaign is just the letter “K”. Everybody loves her. Everybody thinks she’s part of their family. With her clear, populist bribes of free school meals, her politics are kind of Jamie Oliver meets Pol Pot.
Distancing herself from the Fujimori name is of course a mindful part of the rhetoric. Her campaign, Fuerza 2011, has handed out t-shirts, cooking utensils and even food, in an open show of patronage. (These practices are not banned by the election laws in Peru) "We simply want to reach the disadvantaged so they will remember the considerations that Alberto Fujimori had towards the neediest segments of society," 6. What about Humula?
Humala is a nationalist and former lieutenant colonel. In 2000 he led a failed revolt against Fujimori's electoral fraud and even kidnapped a general (he later received a congressional pardon). He ran in 2006 and was beaten by Garcia. He would likely renegotiate contracts with foreign oil and mining companies. According to reports investors are nervous about him emerging as president. In 2006 he was overtly socialist linking with Chavez wearing red through his campaign. This time around he has been doing his best to steer clear of any controversy, even speaking warmly of free markets, and has pledged to support investors' rights citing the World Bank when making his points. This time around he is grey suits and ties. When Chavez described him as a "good soldier", one of Humala's own congressional candidates threatened to launch a lawsuit against the Venezuelan president. Humala reportedly told Chavez to butt out of Peruvian affairs. "The Venezuelan model is not applicable in Peru,"
Keiko says, Grow out of poverty. Humala says redistribute. The support I feel for Humala is informed primarily for a profound distrust of his opponent. Whichever candidate wins will have half of the country against him or her and a fragmented congress. I doubt Humala if he were to get in would leave on a ‘high note’. Though Humala is the only leftist candidate he seems to lack something to be desired. It would however be a massive understatement to posit that the alternative must not be given the opportunity to follow in her father’s footsteps. This would be a stab in the back for 3000 indigenous and other rural peoples that are no longer able to give birth after being sterilized without consent. These people and thousands more have let their feelings be known in the hundreds of marches and protests that have taken place over this past month. It would be an understatment to suggest that in view of being backed by the same advisors as her father (who directed death squads, formed a dictatorship and looted the government purse to the tune of 600 million dollars) that democracy and human rights are at stake. Our allegiances are informed by the many issues raised in this article and in this regard it seems bizarre that so much of the coverage has been so non-commital and not overtly backing the Humala camp. The video below is from the 'no a Keiko Fujimori' campaign.