The seventh National Search Brigade begins in Morelos

Jorge Durand: Peru: on the razor’s edge


Peruvian democracy hangs on a thread. It is difficult to understand what happened, because it borders on surrealism. A people’s president, in a literal sense, a primary school teacher, left-wing trade unionist, provincial and hatter, became president of a country of poor people.

From the first day of his government, he surrounded himself or was surrounded by advisors, advisers, friends, close and distant relatives, beggars, investors and the hosts of his party that brought him to power. The ministries were easily distributed, in almost the majority of cases, with incompetent, upstart or currupt people.

The exception lay in the Ministry of Economy and in the Reserve Bank, two posts where improvisation could not be done, where cronyism was not worth it. In the Reserve Bank the name was already sung, Julio Velarde, who had survived four consecutive terms and several presidents. For more than 30 years in Peru there was no devaluation and the economy had grown at a significant rate. In the Ministry of Economy it was rumored that it would be Pedro Francke, an economist with multiple relevant credentials and who was considered part of the left caviar and that he set conditions to accept the position. Then other specialists would come to that ministry.

Almost everything else was a disaster, except for a few exceptions that naively believed that they could do something for Peru, with that incompetent, incapable, corrupt, patronizing, and ill-advised government. To make matters worse, their counterpart, the members of the unicameral Congress, were just as incompetent, disjointed, thugs, careerists and coup plotters, with some honorable exceptions. On three occasions, attempts were made to vacate (remove) Castillo and the coup right never obtained enough votes.

The right had every intention of overthrowing Castillo, but through legal and constitutional means. They considered him an outcast, an ignoramus, a shame, a shitty cholo and they had to liquidate him, find any excuse. And Andrés Manuel López Obrador is right in that when he considers that there was a whole conspiracy of the racist and classist right-wing against Castillo, but they did not carry out the coup.

Paradoxically, the self-coup was carried out by Pedro Castillo, when he gave a speech on national television, with his voice broken and his hands trembling, suppressing Congress, the judicial authorities and other instances. He proclaimed himself a dictator, as Alberto Fujimori did decades before and with almost the same words as him.

In seconds they took him at his word and accused him of being a coup plotter, a conspirator and exercising power in an unconstitutional manner.

No one knows, nor is it ultimately explained what happened at that time and what were the reasons, expectations or pressures that induced Castillo to take that step. He maneuvered on a razor’s edge and lost. Actually he was already lost. That morning one of his close friends declared in Congress that he personally received bribes of thousands of dollars; not of millions, like Alan García, Alejandro Toledo or Keiko Fujimori. Castillo’s corruption was piranhas, everyone wanted their share of his appointment and fiercely defended their share of the budget, his position or his ability to influence and get a slice. It was not a matter of sharks, like his predecessors Alberto Fujimori, Alan García and Francisco Toledo, one died for not wanting to go to jail and the other two prisoners.

Now Fujimori spends the night with Castillo, the Chinese and the cholo rest and remember their differences and coincidences, two strangers who came to the presidency of Peru with the popular vote. One Olympically defeating the presumed Vargas Llosa and the other, the daughter of the imprisoned dictator, Keiko Fujimkori, perpetual candidate and loser for the presidency. They will talk about something in the same prison house that Peru has prepared for its former presidents, it is already customary and, after all, the investiture granted by the popular vote is respected in something, so as not to send them to Lurigancho.

AMLO did not understand the vicissitudes and equilibrium of Peruvian democracy. Apparently neither is his ambassador. As soon as he opened his mouth to say that he was giving Castillo asylum, the news spread on social networks and people went to block the Mexican embassy to prevent him from arriving and seeking asylum. Then his own escort and police took charge of taking him prisoner.

Castillo did not understand the situation either. It was a matter of waiting, there was no way he was going to be vacated by Congress, he could have negotiated several exits and come out in a better way in a few months. He could have recognized the ineptitude of his government or his ministers and called an election, like a true democrat. That was the moment for AMLO to offer Castillo asylum.

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