Right-wing putschists undermine democracy in Peru
President Pedro Castillo came to power on a left-wing platform with the support of Peru’s poorest and most marginalized people. In response, anti-democratic forces and their powerful capitalist backers have been dedicated to ousting Castillo since his victory last July.
Dominated by an alliance of right-wing and far-right parties, Congress played a particularly obstructive role in a coup strategy against Castillo.
Although the Perú Libre de Castillo party has the most representatives in Congress, they outnumber the combined weight of right-wing and far-right parties, such as Fuerza Popular and Acción Popular, which have come together to try to overthrow Castillo.
Congress has blocked more than 30 bills introduced by Castillo and his cabinet over the past year. These bills sought to: abolish the criminal immunity of senior state officials; introduce a referendum on a new constitution and a new Constituent Assembly; and implement moderate land reform.
On the other hand, Congress has passed laws that grant it more power while restricting executive power. The stage is set for a legislative coup.
Congress has already removed three ministers and passed no-confidence motions against more than a dozen other ministers. They were aided in this by a right-wing media smear campaign.
Right-wing congresswoman María del Carmen Alva – who is supposed to help maintain cooperation between Congress and the executive branch – has been implicated in several plots to remove Castillo from office, including two unsuccessful impeachment attempts against him .
Leaked audio from a June 3 phone call revealed Alva’s nefarious plan to seize power by deposing Castillo and Vice President Dina Boluarte. Under the Constitution, if the president and vice president are deposed, the president of Congress assumes the presidency and must call a new election.
In the audio, Alva said she would call a presidential election, but not a general election, and then return to her position as president of Congress. This would ensure that the right-wing dominated Congress would maintain its control over the government.
Peru faces mounting cost of living pressures from inflation, Western sanctions on Russia and big oil profits from the war in Ukraine.
Peru imports about 75% of the oil it consumes and depends mainly on fertilizer imports from Russia.
The impact of rising oil and fertilizer import costs has had effects on the cost of food, transport and construction, in a country still reeling from the effects of COVID-19.
Peru experienced the highest per capita death rate from COVID-19 in the world at the height of the pandemic, during which more than 30% of Peruvians were pushed into poverty.
It was in this context that right-wing groups sought to build a movement against Castillo.
José Carlos Llerena, educator and representative of the Peruvian chapter ALBA Movimientos, said Fato’s Brazil there is legitimate discontent over the cost of living and against the government – which has manifested itself in recent strikes and protests – but that right-wing forces have exploited this discontent to promote their “coup strategy”. ‘State “.
After a strike by transport workers against rising fuel prices on March 28 in Huancayo, anti-Castillo groups took the opportunity to mobilize against him in Lima on April 5.
Llerena said: “They went out [onto the streets] in the richest and most affluent neighborhoods, white families wearing Peruvian football shirts, advocating chauvinistic nationalism, protesting against a supposed dictatorship. This formula that we already know from Brazil, [and] in Bolivia.
These groups made few demands beyond calls for Castillo’s resignation and often resorted to violence. The far-right La Resistencia group – which is linked to the right-wing Fuerza Popular and Renovación Popular parties – burned down shops, broke into the offices of the national electoral jury, destroyed part of the public prosecutor’s office building and attempted to take violently stormed the Congress building in Lima while Castillo was inside.
Weeks later, grassroots organizations rallied to protest the rising cost of living, congressional filibuster and demand a new constitution.
The current constitution, introduced by former President Alberto Fujimori in 1993, has helped entrench the neoliberal economic model. It allowed the privatization of public services, undermined democracy and concentrated power and wealth in the hands of the economic elite.
The United Organizations of the Cusco region – an alliance of 14 unions and grassroots organizations – have announced a 48-hour nationwide strike for April 18.
In an April 11 statement, he said, “The people of Cusco reject this Congress that only cares about the economic and financial interests of the monopolies and oligopolies embodied in the corrupt CONFIEP. [National Confederation of Private Enterprise Institutions] that whimsically drive up the prices of basic necessities. They are the ones who will always defend the neoliberal model.
Peru’s economy is dominated by oligopolies and monopolies.
Grupo El Comercio, a huge media conglomerate and longtime supporter of right-wing politicians and parties, controls 78% of newspapers.
Four banks account for 95% of the sector’s net income and 83% of all loans and deposits.
One company, Alicorp, controls a huge market share for products such as mayonnaise (95%), bottled sauces (91%) and soap (76%).
Three companies — Zeta Gas, Lima Gas and Solgas — control 73% of the liquefied petroleum gas market.
Price fixing and speculation have generated huge profits for a few companies, while the cost of basic commodities for Peruvians has increased.
In recognition of their damaging impact, protesters in Cusco carried signs saying, “Down with AliCorp”, “Shut down Congress” and “No to Monopoly”.
The National Organization of Indigenous Andean and Amazonian Women of Peru (ONAMIAP) joined the protests and reiterated its demands in an April 19 statement: land reform, a National Constituent Assembly to draft a new constitution, and the closure of Congress. .
In an April 19 statement, ONAMIAP said Congress “is dedicated only to destabilizing the country, through impeachment calls and the enactment of unnecessary laws.”
“We demand a new constitutional process, genuine agrarian reform that prioritizes collective territories and strengthens indigenous economies, [and] to change this capitalist and centralized system which deprives us of rights and destroys mother nature.
Despite their scale, the protests in Cusco received little media coverage compared to the right-wing protests in Lima. Indeed, rather than calling for Castillo’s resignation, the bulk of the protests in Cusco focused on land reform and a new constitution.
Corporate-owned media instead focused on small right-wing protests in Lima demanding Castillo’s resignation.
More recently, right-wing groups staged an anti-Castillo protest in Lima on June 4. The bubbly protest ended with a rambling speech by far-right congressman and self-proclaimed “Peruvian Bolsonaro”, Rafael López Aliaga.
A homophobe who opposes abortion and espouses COVID-19 conspiracy theories, he previously led chants of “Death to Castillo” at a rally after last year’s election.
Despite the ill-organized low turnout, the conservative TV station Willax – whose owner backed the Fujimori dictatorship and regularly peddles anti-Castillo conspiracy theories – gave airtime to the protests.
Left-leaning critics say Castillo risks losing his fan base – campesinos (poor peasants), rural workers, indigenous people, trade unions and part of the urban working class who voted in unprecedented numbers to bring him to power – moderating his initially left-wing platform.
Right-wing forces worked from day one to destabilize the Castillo administration. If Castillo loses that grassroots support, he will be even more vulnerable to attempts to oust him.