Thursday, October 28

riots and aiming for a change to the Fujimori Constitution


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The confused political situation that Peru has been experiencing, far from advancing towards stability, has been complicated in recent weeks. It is not only that there have been four president appointments in four years, but the last two have happened in a very few days. The prospect of the next general elections, scheduled for April 11 next year, should serve as a safety valve. However, the accusations of corruption against a good part of the political leaders – all the previous presidents and half of the current deputies – are aborting the regeneration attempts. The fact that Peru is one of the countries most affected in the world by the health and economic crisis caused by Covid-19 does not help to face a way out either.

In the political tidal wave unleashed since the election of businessman Kuczynski in 2016, there has been much crossfire of personal and party interests, with some leaders using Congress and the promotion of certain laws to save themselves from investigations and others maneuvering to advance their strategic agenda. If there is any group that has especially benefited from all this has been the left, whose hard core is the Broad Front, which has seen its main rivals crumble.

Strategic profit from the left

So, in this time, Keiko Fujimori’s Popular Force has disbanded and the party that replaced him in the majority of seats, Popular Action, has been discredited in its operation to overthrow Martín Vizcarra, who in 2018 rose to the presidency as vice president of Kuczynski. Manuel Merino, from Acción Popular, is now being investigated for the two deaths of protesters in the protests that took place during his five days of interim presidency, a position he agreed to as president of Congress.

After the protest marches forced Merino’s resignation on Sunday, the Frente Amplio actually tried to reach the head of state, proposing a candidate for the presidency of Congress and therefore for the interim presidency of the country. By not adding enough votes, the Popular Front finally opted for support the centrist Francisco Sagasti for office, on a list in which another deputy from the Broad Front was in second place and that, therefore, despite belonging to a small group, will be the one who leads the day to day of Congress while Sagasti leads the country.

The curious thing is that the public opinion that previously criticized Merino for having “usurped” Vizcarra’s position and that supported the protests, now no longer goes out on the streets and applauds the “usurpation” that Sagasti is prolonging, without even waiting for the Constitutional Court to rule on the matter.

Fujimori Constitution

It is the perfect storm for some sectors, especially the left, to begin to raise the need for a new constituent process, with the drafting of a Constitution that replaces that of 1993, approved during the authoritarian presidency of Alberto Fujimori, one year after his own coup. The Chilean mirror here seems clear: even one of the last episodes experienced – the fall of interim president Manuel Merino – has featured street demonstrations and clashes with the security forces.

Augusto Pinochet and Alberto Fujimori, while they certainly limited freedoms and violated human rights, laid the foundations for economic development that were then basically respected by the democratic governments that have succeeded until now, from the right to the center-left. This economic success explains both the support for Pinochet and Fujimori that part of the right in their countries continues to express, and that the management of the moderate left has served as a firewall against the more radical or populist left. So, neither Michelle Bachelet nor Ollanta Humala actually questioned the foundations of economic liberalism, and both served as a dam against the Bolivarian wave that swept through Latin America in the last two decades (Humala flirted with Chavismo, but then backed down).

Bolivarianism was installed through constitutional reforms in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, and the path of the constituent processes, theorized in the New Latin American Constitutionalism, seems to be preferred by the minority left in other countries as a way to arouse new political dynamics that are more favorable.

In Chile, the demand for a new Constitution has ended up being the majority, as was seen in last month’s plebiscite, and the same could happen in Peru if that objective were to permeate the political debate. At the end of the day, it is not very glorious to be governed by a fundamental law approved in a dictatorship. The consensus with which the new one is drawn up in Chile and the breadth of freedoms that it guarantees will finally speak of whether or not the whole process is correct.

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