The Politics of Peru: Has a long way to go in solving its problems

August 16, 2021 6:58 PM

Peru has a long way to go in solving its problems, but before any of that the politics of the country must win back the faith of its people.

While it is easy to believe that a left of centre, indigenous politician would translate into general acceptance; Peru has proven that this can be tricky to say the least.

Dr Aparaajita Pandey

Peru stands at an interesting precipice. As the country recently geared up to celebrate the bicentennial anniversary of its independence, celebrations did not go quite as many would have envisioned. The protests in Lima against the Peruvian President, Pedro Castillo were emblematic of a Peruvian population that was no longer looking to celebrate.

The climate around Castillo during his campaign during the elections and then after winning and being sworn in as the President was one of turbulence and uncertainty. Many deemed this election in Peru to be historic and a watershed moment for the country in more than one way; however, recent protests display that Castillo has a long way to go before his presidency could be considered stable.

As Castillo made his way up the political circles to prominence, two kinds of people emerged; those who supported him for being a campesino or a farmer and a school teacher, and indigenous man who was Left of centre and made sporadic yet bold statements like, he would deport immigrants indulging in criminal activities. Those against him despised him for the same reasons; him being relatively unknown, not being from the political ranks of Lima, and being Left of centre.

While on the surface it seems like the people were quite divided in this dichotomy, it is important to note that Castillo was relatively unknown not only in terms of him not being a politician from the capital but also his plan for Peru’s future as the President. Castillo famously stated “no poor people in a rich country” and while he has not been the President for very long, he hasn’t yet unveiled a robust economic plan to tackle the shrinking of the economy. Castillo had also announced that he would be providing free Covid – 19 vaccinations to all Peruvians, however no surge in the rate of vaccination has been registered since his take over and until last week only eighteen per cent of the country had been vaccinated.

The problems for Castillo are aplenty. He took over a country that has suffered greatly due to the Covid-19 pandemic and nobody can be expected to find immediate solutions to a global pandemic, the people are tired and have shown no particular faith in their politics. The economy of Peru also needs major impetus to flourish again. These are not the only problems that Castillo had to face, there was and is a powerful opposition that has succeeded in creating an aura of political vagueness around Castillo and his Presidency. While the Peruvian Presidential election was deemed as free and fair by the Organisation of the American States (OAS), Keiko Fujimori, Alberto Fujimori’s daughter alleged that there had been widespread voter fraud. These claims were not helped by the fact that there was a very narrow margin between Castillo and Fujimori of forty-four thousand votes.

Since Castillo became President, he was seen as a link in the greater chain of events in the region that point towards progressive politics by some. An indigenous President in Bolivia, a Mapuche Professor who was appointed as the woman responsible for the re-drafting of the Chilean constitution, the legalization of abortions in Argentina, these are all being seen and considered emblematic of progressive politics that Latin American people have begun to demand. While it is easy to believe that a left of centre, indigenous politician would translate into general acceptance; Peru has proven that this can be tricky to say the least.

The recent protests against the Castillo regime are a result of Pedro Castillo appointing Guido Bellido as his Prime Minister. Bellido is a far – left politician who has openly shown his support for the Shining Path, a Peruvian armed rebel group that has been responsible for a large number of deaths in the country in the 1980s and 1990s. The appointment not only stimulated a chain of devastating events in the Peruvian stock market, it more importantly put fear in the minds of the general people and investors alike. An appointment of a new Prime Minister who is widely recognized as an extremist politician who sympathizes with aggressors has not inspired confidence among the people.

Not too long ago the voters of Peru had a pool of approximately ten candidates to choose from in the initial rounds of the presidential elections. None of the candidates were particularly popular and when the Peruvian voters put their faith behind Castillo, they hoped for a President who would relieve them of their economic woes, however the appointment of Bellido shattered that faith and the people took to the streets.

Peru has a long way to go in solving its problems, but before any of that the politics of the country must win back the faith of its people.

(The author is an Asst Professor at Dept of Public Policy and has a PhD in Latin American Studies from Centre for Canadian, US, and Latin American Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online.)

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