Peru: Left candidate on what's behind unrest

Issue 
In Cusco, mothers lead the march against the coup with the slogan: "mothers in the streets defend their children". Photo: Miguel Gutierrez DHSF/Twitter. Inset: Veronika Mendoza

Mass protests broke out after Peru’s parliament voted to impeach former president Martin Vizcarra on November 9th, installing Manuel Merino of the Accion Popular party, as head of state for the 5 months left till the country’s general elections. [Update: Merino resigned from his post on November 15, following deadly protests, in which two demonstrators were killed.]

The Peruvian left are not supporters of former neoliberal president Vizcarra, but have condemned the impeachment that has been carried out by forces even further to his right.

“The new government has named Ántero Flores Aráoz as president of the Council of Ministers," said Veronika Mendoza, leader of the ‘New Peru Movement’ party and the only leftist presidential candidate. 

"He is the best representative of the old politics: conservative, far-right, racist, sexist, a few years ago he described the citizens of the Andes as llamas or vicuñas, incapable of expressing an opinion. He is also a lawyer for those who defend the business interests of those in congress. Merino is just one of these puppets."

Congress accuses Vizcarra of corruption, something Mendoza agrees should be investigated, but she told Nodal that, “In the midst of a pandemic and with just five months before the elections, Mr Vizcarra should conclude his mandate and then the next day face justice”. 

She added that congress are not the ones who need to lead the fight against corruption. “Behind the backs of citizens, in an absolutely cynical and shameless way, a Congress in which the majority are also being prosecuted for corruption, some even for murder, have decided to impeach the President of the Republic, and constitute themselves as an illegitimate government.”

Fight against neoliberalism

Though the current controversy began with corruption allegations, Mendoza says that the current protests are about a deep crisis of state, a rebellion against the legacy of the far-right Fujimori dictatorship of the 90s. 

“In 1992, Alberto Fujimori decided to impose a neoliberal constitution with a coup that made the state precarious, which privatised rights such as health and education, that left Peruvians without a pensions system, which left politics and democracy in the hands of economic power groups, which allowed it to be captured by pressure groups, gangsters and the corrupt, which has led us to this dramatic situation.”

The mobilisations have largely been spontaneous and Mendoza sees the country’s youth as the key agents

“The people, the young people who have come out, moved by their indignation, but also by their love for the country...And it seems to me absolutely legitimate and the most appropriate thing to remind us that democracy is not only electoral processes, it is not only political parties and leaders; democracy is essentially popular and citizen protagonism."

[Reprinted from TeleSur English.]

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