16 Aug 2015

HOW IS POLITICS DONE IN PERU? Protest against neoliberalism and ecocide in Peru.

Editorial from Lucha Indigena by Hugo Blanco via http://www.luchaindigena.com/

                                       HOW IS POLITICS DONE IN PERU?
According to Ipsos, the Peruvian government has just a 33% approval rating.  According to Gfk, 71% of the people disapprove of what the congress is doing, while 70% disapprove of the judicial branch.
          And what is the outlook for next year's elections?  58% say that the political parties do not represent the electorate's interests.  As we have said, voters have a choice for president between three super-corrupt individuals and a citizen of the USA.  And 31% are resigned to the return to power of the thieving murderer Alberto Fujimori.
          We are aware that Fujimori is in prison and that the candidate is his daughter, Keiko, but we also know full well that she will pardon him and that it will be he who will govern from home or the presidential palace.  As we have indicated, she did not protest when her father had her mother tortured for having denounced corruption in his administration.  We also know that after that Keiko served as the "first lady" and that she has never spoken out against the robberies and murders ordered by her father, who paid for the expensive education of her and her siblings in the USA with stolen money.
          During the electoral campaign she will probably promise not to pardon him, but we are well aware how seldom election promises are kept in Peru.  In Cajamarca, Ollanta promised to fight for the people's water rights against the gold mining interests, but once in office he became a servant of the mining companies and had defenders of water murdered.  In Islay he said that the populace should have the deciding voice, but in government he orders the assassination of Peruvians who want to continue working the land.
          In Peru it has become an unforgiveable sin to keep one's campaign promises.  Jaime de la Cruz, as a candidate for mayor of Dean Valdivia in Islay, promised to fight for water and life against the predatory mining corporations.  When, as mayor, he kept this promise, the National Electoral Commission stripped him of his office for this very crime.
          If the people are so disgusted with the executive, legislative and judicial authorities, why not vote for the left?  To my knowledge, two slates of "leftist" candidates are in preparation.  One of these is around Yehude Simon, one of the intellectual authors of the massacre of Amazonian natives in Bagua.
          The other, I am informed, includes in its ranks the wing of APRA not allied with Alan.  APRA is corrupt to its core, and García is Haya de la Torre's favorite disciple.  Among other things, we have cited the government of coexistence between APRA and the reactionary oligarchy, as well as the pact with ex-dictator Odria, who had massacred APRA members.  This was done not by Alan but by his mentor, Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre.  It is probably for these reasons that the "left" does not figure in opinion polls.
          But does this mean that the Peruvian people do not struggle politically?  The oppressed do fight, even if they find the word "politics" -- which in Peru is understood to mean corruption -- revolting.  We have Máximo Acuña de Chaupe, a symbol of the anti-mining resistance by the Cajamarca defenders of water, five of whom have lost their lives in the struggle.  A great many farmers have been blocking activation of the Conga mine, despite the millions in bribes paid to Ollanta Humala, the parliamentarians, police and army chiefs, the tribunals, news media, etc.
          A few months ago the Peruvian youth showed us how the politics of resistance is exercises when they forced the parliamentarians to repeal a new law that discriminated against young people in the workplace.  The means of struggle were agreed upon democratically in popular assemblies.  The accepted support from political parties and trade unions, but did not allow these to lead the struggle, which was directed by the sectoral assemblies.
          We see the forest-dwelling native peoples in valiant struggle against pollution of their lands and waters by the petroleum companies.
          And at the present time it is the province of Islay, Arequipa that is giving us classes in politics.
          In 2013 the government of Alan García was unwilling to suspend hostilities for the elections.  As a result, it had to stop the environmental impact assessment, thereby suspending the start of the mine's operations.  As part of this year's fight, there was a lengthy strike that included the participation of four mayors elected on an anti-mining platform.
          Knowing that the government uses dialogue as a means of delay and deception, the militants agreed to come to the table on the condition that the discussion begin with their central demand and only then go on to other matters.  And what was their central demand?  That the Tía María mine should be stopped.  Since approval of this mine was the whole objective of the delaying tactic, the government lost all interest in meeting.
          In the face of police aggression, the people organized the espartambos -- named after the Tambo Valley, where the struggle was taking place -- which resisted by means of warak'as (native slingshots).  Defenders of water were murdered.  The government suspended constitutional guarantees for 60 days.  The police entered houses to detain anyone they pleased without legitimate cause.  The 60 days have now passed, yet the army is still in Islay.  This is how the "defenders of the homeland" uphold the interests of a transnational corporation by order of the "Peruvian" government.
          This province's heroic struggle has awakened the solidarity of Arequipa and other regions.  We do not know how the fight will play out, but even if the popular resistance in defense of water, life and agriculture against destruction our environment is crushed in the end, it will remain as an example of how the oppressed can fight back for their freedom.
          This is the kind of politics that we want to learn and carry forward.  We have no interest in the deception that takes place every five years, in which we "are supposed to choose our government by voting for various parties."

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