Wed Jun 19, 2024
June 19, 2024

The Stark Reality of Ruling Class “Democracy” in Peru

A government as disastrous as that of Dina Boluarte obviously does not stand on its own merit. It remains, in spite of its criminal and corrupt acts, as an extension of the current political order. This order is the product of a pact between the organizations that control the Congress, which have, in more than one case, been deemed criminal by the Public Prosecutor’s Office. Twenty-four years after the fall of the Fujimori dictatorship and the promise of democracy, this is the stark reality of a democracy that serves big business and transnational corporations.

By PST Editorial Staff

Boluarte remains in office to continue doing the dirty work for which she will have to be held accountable sooner or later. As the social struggle is not reactivated, it will be as late or as early as it suits those forces in Congress that have given her impunity for the murders of demonstrators and the corruption that the president has so far failed to explain. This includes the expensive Swiss watches and the millionaire sum found in her bank accounts.

The former Prime Minister Otarola couldn’t survive the scandal involving the illegal use of public resources to pay off women he sexually harassed. But he has maintained his complicity with the current regime, because the superficial change made by Premier Adrianzén could not have been more evident. In other words, nothing has changed.

The kind of government that Congress supports

The role of being a mere extension of the government is so evident that nothing matters, even the fact that it is of no use at all. They absurdly maintain a Minister of the Interior who perfectly illustrates the total incapacity of the government in the face of the expansion of the international criminal organizations that are massively harming the population. Almost certainly nothing is being done for fear of targeting the wrong criminal organization and one of their possible “allies”.

In addition, next to nothing is being done in the face of climate change, or in the face of the enormous deficiencies in education and, not to mention, in public health with the advance of dengue fever, infant anemia, and the issue of generic drugs, which the pharmaceutical chains are removing from public access. We know that there are structural problems such as poverty and unemployment that are inherent to the neoliberal economic plan, which generates deep inequality and promotes austerity and the incapacity of the State to guarantee the most basic democratic rights. Yet, the responsibility of this government, as of previous governments, is to be found in their imposition of such a plan.

Likewise, as a result of its inability to cope with the recession in some sectors of the economy and the fall in tax revenues, the government has not been able to do anything but pass on the cost of the crisis to the working population through austerity measures. These include the recent emergency decree that seeks to reduce the fiscal deficit demanded by businessmen and international organizations, in order to protect their profits and interests, without costing them a penny.

Finally, the current government is not only incapable of putting a stop to the abusive actions of the organizations that control Congress, but also validates the laws that Congress autocratically approves.

Political gangs on the rampage

In effect, with great brazenness and without any conscience, the Congress has been approving laws and even constitutional reforms that contravene the will of the people, and that only favor perpetuating its own power. These include legalizing impunity for crimes committed as criminal organizations, scandalously favoring the interests of big business, and incidentally also the blackmarket businessmen who in many cases are the financiers of their parties.

The laws and reforms (or counter-reforms) essentially have their own identities. They have weakened effective collaboration to torpedo investigations and fiscal accusations when the accused are leaders of several of these parties. Now they are about to dismiss the prosecution of political organizations that functioned as criminal organizations, which is not the same as the persecution of political parties.

But that is not all. The same political forces that demonized and blocked the popular demand for a referendum for a constituent assembly, under the pretext of defending the sacrosanct Constitution of 1993, have approved a massive revision of the Constitution with changes that respond to obvious particular interests. Among them are the provisions regarding bicameralism and the reelection of congressmen that were overwhelmingly rejected in the referendum of 2018. Moreover, they stifle competition in the election of future senators by making it a requirement to have been a congressman.

The agenda of special interests includes other issues such as the prohibition of prosecution for crimes against humanity committed before 2002, a long-standing desire not only of Fujimori and Montesinos but also of a large number of high-ranking officers of the armed forces involved in genocide and rape in the eighties and nineties.

Likewise, fujimorismo and cerronismo are the main defenders of the proposal to shield parties who have been investigated for corruption. This is not a provision to protect political parties from criminalization for political purposes. Indeed, the congressmen who have committed crimes such as imposing mandatory contributions on their office workers (the “mochasueldos”), take advantage of the compromise pact to remove the Attorney General of the nation, the person who is investigating them.

Who runs Congress

Fujimorism and its main allies in Renovación Popular and Avanza País, have achieved sufficient alignment to allow them not only to subdue the Boluarte government, but also to weave a network of influence over key state entities such as the Constitutional Court and the Ombudsman’s Office. They had also achieved something similar with the Attorney General’s Office but lost it when it came to light the Attorney General had sought to purchase of the votes of congressmen in exchange for shelving investigations.

They then proceeded with the controversial dismissal of the judges of the National Justice Board, which would give them the ability to designate judicial authorities capable of shelving the cases involving money laundering and other crimes that hang over them,  as well as the electoral authorities that they appoint with a view to the next elections.

This last move has been reversed by a judicial injunction, but the offensive has not stopped. The similarities with the instrumentalization of judicial and electoral institutions during the Fujimori-Montesinos era are obvious.

Fujimorism and its main allies, RP and Avanza País, do not have decisive power in Congress since they only have 41 out of 130 votes. That is why they have made deals with the APP (11 votes), which they endorsed last July to assume the presidency of the board of directors of Congress, and also in legislation that strengthens their electoral bastion and their positions in the business of private education. Furthermore, they share a shield against serious criminal accusations such as the criminal network involving the former Attorney General and the “mochasueldos” congressmen.

They are joined by Podemos (10) of José Luna, who is also a private education potentate and accused, he and his party, of being a criminal organization (it seems that this is a requirement to belong to the “alliance” because it is the same accusation against Fuerza Popular); and Acción Popular (8).

With 70 votes they would have enough for simple majority agreements, but not everyone votes as a block and there are votes such as impeachment and especially constitutional reforms that require a qualified majority of two thirds or 87 votes.

And that is where the shameful role of the “left” representation in Congress, i.e. Peru Libre (11 votes) and its splits comes in.

The approval of the business community

None of this fills big capital with disgust. In the 2021 elections, the businessmen, showing what they are and where their principles lie, used all their economic power to whitewash a candidate, Keyko Fujimori. She has already been accused of forming a criminal organization, Fuerza Popular, and has also been accused of money laundering.  They also allied to demonize a candidate who generated some popular enthusiasm and took on the role of an instrument to defeat the candidate allied with corruption and the powerful.

They lost that election, and after the fall of Pedro Castillo, which they themselves encouraged, they have helped to sustain a regime that has had to massacre a population outraged by the usurpation of what they considered their democratic conquest, in order to stay in power. And in order to ensure their future, the economic powers that be have no other option but to try to whitewash real political mafias once again.

Finally, democracy for them has been reduced to who has the power and authority to make executive decisions and pass the laws that suit their interests. The latest example of this was the approval (without debate and bypassing formal procedures) of changes to the Forestry Law that opens the way for them to extend their exploitation by razing communal lands and attacking the forests and the environment. If that is democracy in fact, why do they need a dictatorship?

Now that this has happened, how should we interpret the complaints of the Mining and Petroleum Society, for the approval by the same Congress, of legislation that continues to whitewash groups of illegal miners? These are powerful players in an informal economy created, by default, by the neo-liberal economic plan (after all, “their” formal economy does not even absorb 20% of the population). The former would say that their draught animals in Congress, although useful, are not sufficiently trained; the latter would say: “with money the little monkey dances.”

Threats and challenges for working people

The future for the working class and the people is under threat, and obliges us to take action by organizing and  mobilizing to avoid the tricks of new “saviors.” The struggle against the murderous government and a complicit and largely reviled Congress has not continued, in part because of the criminal repression of the government, and in part also because of ambiguous political decisions of those called to lead a national struggle.

In that sense, they have revealed their inconsistent democratic discourse. And alongside that, they have shattered the popular expectations of immediate elections and a constituent assembly. Today the struggle continues, but this time facing criminal-political organizations that have gained control of the judicial and political systems and who are aiming to control the electoral system ahead of the next elections.

All this is taking place within formal democracy and the bourgeois and reformist “democrats” can live with it. A real democracy can only be built from the grassroots organizations and around a struggle for real solutions to the great problems currently affecting us. Some of the most pressing problems we are up against include criminality, from below and from above, unemployment and underemployment, and jobs without rights; in addition to the deindustrialization that grows with each economic recession, and poverty and extreme poverty that make life miserable for millions of Peruvians.

The national wealth continues to enrich a few and this will not change just with a slogan, a candidate with flowery language or the promise of the paradise of the “democrats,” or another candidate with a calculatedly incendiary speech to play the messiah. A true egalitarian creation and distribution of wealth can only be established and implemented with the democratic power of the workers and the people, and that power must come about as a result of unyielding organization and mobilization against the current corrupt and criminal regime and the economic power that supports it.

Originally published in Bandera Socialista 143, newspaper of the Partido Socialista de los Trabajadores

Translated by: John Prieto

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