Peru

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Peru is a South American country on the Pacific Ocean, just south of the Equator. Ecuador lies to the north and Chile to the south. Although rich in minerals such as copper, silver, oil, and gold, the country's progress, according to BBC, has been "held back by corruption and the failure of successive governments to deal with social and economic inequality." [1]

Peru has alternated in the recent past between military dictatorships and democracy. [1]

Background

During the 1990s, Peru was governed by the regime of President Alberto Fujimori. Institutional opposition to his aggressive neo-liberal policies that included fiscal austerity and large scale privatization was eliminated in 1992 when Fujimori dissolved Congress and changed the country's constitution to give himself more power, paving the way for a period of authoritarian rule.

"By 2000, the neo-liberal push was grinding to a halt with the onset of the Andean recession, and Fujimori had lost his popular support as a result of bribery scandals and evidence of fraud in his election to a constitutionally questionable third term. In the face of popular resistance, Fujimori resigned and fled Peru for Japan to escape corruption and war crimes charges stemming from his counter-insurgency efforts against the Maoist Shining Path guerrilla movement". [1]

Narco News hosts an article by Peter Gorman making the case for U.S. involvement in ousting Fujimori who was blocking deployment of Plan Colombia.

By election in 2001, the pro-Washington Alejandro Toledo became President, and restarted the neo-liberal push, but met with populist opposition in 2003 when a wave of strikes in the public and agricultural sectors of the economy broke out, marked by road blockades throughout the country.

"Since the 2003 disturbances, Toledo's popularity has plunged, having now fallen to an eight percent approval rating due to an array of sex and corruption scandals, an armed challenge to state authority from the extreme nationalist right and credible charges of electoral fraud." [2]

Peruvian Truth Commission

Context

"Old-fashioned police intelligence finally subdued the terrorist threat [Shining Path] but Peruvian leaders [Fujimori regime] continued to use the fear of terrorism to gut the democracy, making Peru a virtual dictatorship where a vast web of corruption replaced the rule of law." [3]

An Andean crisis of democracy

April 2006 Elections

The background, momentum, and effects of the December 2005 elections in Bolivia will certainly be an important component of the environment within which the Peruvian elections take place five months later.

Pre-Election Contentions

Peru declares state of emergency, ISN SECURITY WATCH (Thursday, 22 December: 14.00 CET)

Peruvian authorities have declared a two-month state of emergency in six provinces across the country, in a crackdown on armed anti-government groups, news agencies reported.
The emergency measures, set in place on Wednesday, will allow troops to deploy in the area, raid homes, and break up public meetings, according to reports.
In the last two weeks, 13 police officers have been killed by insurgents.
The Peruvian government has blamed a group known as the Shining Path for the killings.
Under Peruvian law, a state of emergency suspends all civil rights.

Peru recalls ambassador from Venezuela, ISN SECURITY WATCH (Thursday, 5 January: 16.24 CET)

The government in Lima said Chavez had broken diplomatic norms in the region by openly supporting the nationalist Peruvian candidate, Ollanta Humala. Recent polls show Humala with a lead over other presidential candidates in the run-up to elections in April.

Perusing Peru's News for Political Clues

"The lack of transparency in politics in general and in media in particular is huge in this country," said the director of the government-supported Peruvian organization Citizen Participation. "Like everywhere else in the world, the big owners of communication chains aren't absolutely neutral or transparent. They respond to certain interests." So the Carter Center, Canadian Foundation for the Americas and the University of Calgary have customized for Peru "mapping software to overlay the location of newspapers, radio and TV stations with demographic data," including voting records, income and education level. The interactive website was also used for last month's parliamentary elections in Canada. The project's goals are "to support campaign-finance reform and democracy-building efforts." The website is not geared towards average citizens, but "for political watchdog groups to spot trends in radio and TV coverage of candidates." [4]

Resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Country profile: Peru BBC, accessed December 2007.

Background

News Sources

Articles

Associated Press, February 10, 2006.