Raúl Zibechi: Peruvian Crossroads

Peruvian Crossroads

By: Raúl Zibechi

Different Latin American and Peruvian intellectuals and politicians have harshly criticized President Ollanta Humala, because they consider that he has betrayed the mandate for which he was elected. They do not lack reasons, since the president is governing to the right, although the left anointed him, and he represses the popular sectors, when they were the ones that mobilized to avoid the victory of Keiko Fujimori.

The former guerrilla and current sociologist Héctor Béjar maintains that we’re dealing with a State coup characterized by the military occupation of cities, and states of emergency, which supposes “the insertion of the war logic into government and military style into public conduct” (http://alainet.org/active/55406&lang=es).

The economist Oscar Ugarteche complains about the electoral fraud of one who in his time participated in the Foro de Sao Paulo, and assures that the current government is “a mafia-like and bullying and regime not very different than that of Fujimori” (Alai, 4 de June de 2012). He ventures that an alliance is underway with partisans of the ex dictator in order to hold on to the four years that remain of his mandate, since the repression made him lose his parliamentary majority (http://alainet.org/active/55499&lang=es).

Deputy Javier Diez Canseco traces his balance of the ten months of the Humala government: 12 dead in social conflicts, various zones in a state of emergency with a cut in democratic rights, municipal and regional governments harassed and intervened in illegally by the Executive and the resignation of around 10 percent of the officialist (pro-government) caucus in the Congress (http://www.larepublica.pe/columnistas/contracorriente/sembrando-frustracion-10-06-2012).

We are faced with the second turn to the right by the government, both for the same reasons: the resounding social protest against mining and the mega-ventures. In November and December 2011 the Cajamarca population’s resistance to the Conga mining project to extract gold was resolved with the declaration of the state of emergency and the militarization of several zones, which was followed by a replacement of the cabinet, with the exit of a good part of the most progressive ministers.

Now, things have been aggravated. In May, the Cajamarca anti-mining protest was extended to the other northern departments, Piura, Lambayeque and La Libertad, with a massive strike and numerous mobilizations. In the south, the repression in Espinar province, in the department of Cusco, against the comuneros (communal landholders) that were protesting against the Australian Xstrata Corporation’s Tintaya Mine, resulted in two dead, the mayor incarcerated and dozens relentlessly pursued, among them personnel of the Solidarity Vicarage of Sicuani.

The struggle of the Andean and Amazon peoples reached notable levels. In Bambamarca, a city in the Department of Cajamarca, the population stopped the soldiers from performing the ceremony of saluting the flag; and in Celendín, epicenter of the conflict over Conga, the soldiers were expelled from the place by the population (Lucha Indígena, June 2012). The campesino rounds stopped the soldiers from attempting to prostitute minors.

The participation of the campesino rounds in the conflict for water and against mining anticipates the government’s failure despite the sending of troops. A tool of the campesino communities, the rounds played a determinative role in the military overthrow of the Sendero Luminoso in the 1990s. They have enormous prestige, well-oiled organization, strong support among those below that integrate and lead them and are not impressed by armed enemies.

It is certain, as has been pointed out, that Humala took a strong turn to the right, although he continues being a “progressive” in comparison to Keiko’s fascism. What’s essential is in another place. Humala’s victory created a new political situation política in Peru that was interpreted by the popular sectors as the time to take a leap forward in the long resistance against mining.

The political sense of smell of Hugo Blanco, who observes and senses the politics from below, synthesized the new conjuncture in the recent National Forum on Education for Social Change held in Rosario, Argentina: “If Keiko would have won the people would be very demoralized, but by Humala winning they felt that they won. Therefore they now feel betrayed and with the right to protest. The March for the Water never could have been done if Humala had not won.”

In effect, the March for the Water held in February between Cajamarca and Lima was the largest collective action held in the capital since the last phase of resistance to the Fujimori regime more than a decade ago.

The president of the Central Office of Campesino Rounds of Ayavaca, Piura Province, where the resistance to the Chinese mining company Zijin is seated, pointed out during the march on May 31: “The principal cause for which we are here is because of the betrayal that the government did to us. We opted to give Ollanta Humala the opportunity because he offered to defend us, but lamentably we realize that he has betrayed us” (Lucha Indígena, June 2012).

Two questions are at play at this time in Peru. On the plain of interstate relations, the dispute over Peru is key as much for the United States as for Brazil. Peru participates in the Pacific Alliance with Chile, Colombia and Mexico, which is the principal wedge of Washington in the Unasur and the Celac. For Brazil the political and military alliance with Peru is decisive for consolidating its exit to the al Pacific, the route for its substantial trade with China.

For the popular sectors, the juncture opened with the election of Humala is signifying the greatest reconstruction of their capacity for organization and mobilization after the terrible decade of Fujimori (1990) and the neoliberal governments of Alejandro Toledo and Alan García during the decade from 2000-2010. The Peruvian popular movement, both in its urban branch and its campesino-indigenous branch, was in the 1980s the region’s most powerful. It was decimated with bullets from both the right and the “left.” Now it retook the path and is speaking out again. It is a critical time.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Friday, June 15, 2012

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/06/15/opinion/025a1pol

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