Peripheral Revision

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Peru election: No country ‘left’ behind

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If Ollanta Humala wins a run-off vote in June, he could align Peru with Latin America’s political left.

Greg Grandi, Al Jazeera, April 15, 2011

Last week, in Peru’s presidential election, Ollanta Humala, a 48-year old former military officer, pulled off a stunning come-from-behind victory.

Beating his four main rivals with over 30 per cent of the vote, Humala, who has called for a fairer distribution of Peru’s enviable economic growth, scares Washington and Wall Street.

Peruvians have committed “political suicide”, declared a former US ambassador to the country following the vote.

Equally unnerved is Peru’s Noble Laureate, Mario Vargas Llosa, who often uses his considerable descriptive talents to render in subtle hues the anxieties of Lima’s upper-class whites.

Since Humala didn’t get 50 per cent of the vote, he will face Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of jailed ex-president Alberto Fujimori, in a June run off – a choice Vargas Llosa describes as akin to one between “AIDS and terminal cancer”.

Many Peruvians, though, have worse fates in store for them than those two diseases. Despite Peru’s impressive macroeconomic performance, including low inflation, over the last decade, well over thirty per cent of Peru’s thirty million people live in poverty, and eight per cent in extreme poverty.

In the countryside, particularly the indigenous countryside, more than half of all families are poor, many desperately so.

Chavez soup

Central areas in Lima, the capital, are booming. Profits skimmed off the high price of precious metals – silver, zinc, copper, tin, lead, and gold make up sixty per cent of the country’s exports and finance the rise of luxury condos and malls.

But the city is also sprawling outward. Mining and other high-capital, low-labour export industries – among them, logging, petroleum, natural gas, and biofuels plantations – are ripping up the Andean highlands and Amazonian lowlands, throwing a steady number of families into Lima, where they add block after block to its perimeter.

Terminal cancer might be a concern among Vargas Llosa’s condo constituency, but these economic refugees, particularly their children, are more likely to suffer shantytown diseases, including malnutrition, protein deficiency, dysentery, and drug-resistant tuberculosis. Peru ranks 23rd out of 26th in Latin America for access to waste treatment.

While all the other candidates offer variations on a theme of “more of the same”, Humala promises mild reform. He pledges to improve health care for the poor and implement a means-tested pension plan for the elderly.

To pay for it, he said he will raise the taxes on mineral exports. This is hardly a radical program, but those who have grown fat off of Peru’s unsustainable model of economic development view it as catastrophic.

News of Humala’s first-round victory sent Peru’s currency and bond prices sharply down. Opinion and policy makers in Lima and the US rushed to their keyboards to warn of “class warfare”, as did the former US ambassador cited above.

The “outcome”, he said, “could not have been worse”. There is a saying in Latin America to describe the hysteria that overcomes elites when they hear someone suggesting a more equitable distribution of wealth: “when they sit down to dinner, they see Hugo Chavez in their soup.”

Power relations

Can Humala win in June? According to The Economist, polls taken before last week’s election found that “more than 77 per cent of voters expressing an opinion wanted to modify the country’s development model”. And 37 per cent wanted radical change.

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Written by peripheralrevision

04/16/2011 at 10:15 am

Posted in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela

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Bolivia’s Morales Congratulates Peru’s Humala For 1st round election success

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Robert Kozak, Dow Jones Newswires, April 11, 2011

Bolivian President Evo Morales has sent a letter congratulating nationalist president candidate Ollanta Humala for his first- round lead following Sunday’s elections in Peru, according to official Bolivian news agency ABI.

Left-leaning Morales applauded the decision of Peruvians “to advance with the transformation of their nation and its institutions,” ABI said.

Humala, 48, a former military officer, is promising a “grand transformation” in Peru.

The latest data from Peruvian government elections agency, ONPE, while still incomplete, shows Humala with 28.69% of the vote for president and Congresswoman Keiko Fujimori in second place, with 22.69%. A run off will take place on June 5.

“Receive in my name, from the government and from the Bolivian people, a fraternal and revolutionary salute,” Morales said.

Morales, elected in 2005, has given the state greater control over natural resources.

In Peru, Humala wants to increase taxes on mining companies, stop natural-gas exports, and increase state control over certain sectors of the economy, among other things.
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Written by peripheralrevision

04/11/2011 at 10:21 am

Posted in Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela

Lessons to be learned from Latin America

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Jonathan Glennie, The Nation, April 6, 2011

The idea that a successful model for development in one country could sensibly become a blueprint for another is now unfashionable – but important lessons can still be learned by examining other nations’ development paths.

One region is routinely overlooked in international development discussions that tend to contrast Asian success with African stagnation: Latin America.

Life expectancy has risen from 56 in 1960 to 73 today, and primary school completion rates are hovering at near 100%.

But the past decade has been the most dramatic for Latin America as the New Left governments – such as those led by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil, Cristina and Néstor Kirchner of Argentina, Michelle Bachelet in Chile, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Tabaré Vázquez in Uruguay, Fernando Lugo in Paraguay and, of course, Hugo Chávez in Venezuela – have swept to power.

After the years of austerity in the 1980s and 1990s, during which income poverty levels increased or stagnated, sustained growth in the past decade accompanied significant poverty reduction. Some 13% of Latin Americans lived in absolute poverty in 1980, and that figure was still 11% in 2002. But just three years later that figure had dropped to 8%, according to the World Bank.

Latin American countries are emerging from the global financial meltdown in good shape, in part because of their apparent familiarity with the rules of counter-cyclical spending, which depends on storing up money in the good times, and in part because their financial sector was less liberalised than in the west.

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Written by peripheralrevision

04/06/2011 at 7:17 pm

Left-wing nationalist Humala likely to win 1st round of Peru presidential election, face tougher 2nd round

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“an economic regime that has social justice as its objective” – Ollanta Humala

Humala extends lead in Peru presidential race

Reuters, April 1, 2011

Left-wing nationalist Ollanta Humala has extended his lead in Peru’s presidential race and former Prime Minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski may now be in second place, polls showed on Friday before the April 10 vote.

Humala gained nearly 10 points to 24.3 percent in a poll by Lima’s Catholic University and he is now more than 5 points ahead of his nearest rival.

Humala’s rise has unnerved financial markets, though analysts say he has moderated many of his views and would likely lose a June 5 runoff that would be held if no candidate wins more than half the votes in this month’s election.

Trailing Humala were former president Alejandro Toledo, at 18.8 percent, and lawmaker Keiko Fujimori, at 18.4 percent…

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Hugo Chavez: Humala is a “good soldier”

Jorge Riveros-Cayo, LivinginPeru.com, April 1, 2011

…”I know Ollanta, we have spoken in various opportunities. He was a good Peruvian soldier, who had a rebel gesture against Fujimori’s government. I think he went to the mountains with 20 soldiers, he did not seized military bases and there was no blooshed. He went to jail but was granted a pardon. Then he was sent abroad as a diplomat. he has a party (Nationalist Party), a project. Peruvian people will know whom to vote for,” said Chavéz in a television press conference.

Peruvian press has suggested that Chávez is financing Humala’s campaign, as happened during the presidential run in 2006.

Chávez defended his allied of the alleged press attacks, saying that Peru’s press tries to link them to “damage his campaign.” “Now everything started, they say those candidates are from Chávez. Watch out! They are trying to damage Ollanta’s candidacy,” he said.

Venezuela’s president denied he supports any candidate in Peru. He said he expects to have a good relation with whomever is elected president.

“Peru is from and for Peruvians. I love that country and let the Peruvian people decide who they want for president within a democracy,” said Chávez.

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Wait And See In Peru If Leftist Humala Makes First Round Elections – Fin Min

Sophie Kevany, Dow Jones Newswires, April 1 2011

Peru’s Finance Minister said Friday that if leftist presidential candidate Ollanta Humala wins a first round victory, the country will enter a “wait and see” period…

…Humala, a former military officer whose near win in the 2006 presidential elections rattled financial markets, favors greater state control over the economy.

Separately, consultants Eurasia Group said in a report Friday although it saw former president Alejandro Toledo as the most probable outright winner, a possible Humala administration “would most likely steer a path between the more radical economic policies of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and a mere repeat” of the current market friendly government.

Eurasia expects Humala would avoid breaking contracts and refrain from rewriting Peru’s constitution. Nevertheless, Humala would “most likely” increase taxes, spending and state control of the economy, “particularly in the natural resources sector,” Eurasia said.

The end result would be a “gradual deterioration on the current policy framework, but no radical shift,” Eurasia said.

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Written by peripheralrevision

04/02/2011 at 1:45 pm

Posted in Peru, Venezuela