Saturday, January 28, 2006

Ollanta Humala - The Big Unknown permanent link   11 comments
The presidential elections in Peru are only less than 3 months away (April 9) and we've reached halftime now since the first national voters survey was conducted. The graphic below the left shows the astonishing shift in voter's opinion since then.
Peru Election SurveyOllanta Humala has become the frontrunner, according to a poll by Apoyo published in El Comercio. 28 per cent of respondents would support the Peruvian Nationalist Party (PNP) candidate.

Lourdes Flores Nano of the Popular Christian Party (PPC) is second with 25 per cent, followed by former president Alan García of the American Revolutionary People’s Alliance (APRA) with 15 per cent, and former head of state, Valentín Paniagua, of Popular Action (AP) with 10 per cent. Support is lower for Jaime Salinas of National Justice (JN) and Martha Chávez of New Majority (NM).

In a two-candidate runoff, however, Flores still had a 46-39 percent edge. The top two candidates will have a runoff if none of the 23 candidates wins a first-round majority.

Ollanta Humala's increasing popularity is prompting fear that Latin America's commitment to market-based reforms is waning and it has rattled Peru's financial markets. Humala, a former military officer and left-wing opponent of free trade and free-market policies, recently proclaimed deep admiration for the 1968-75 leftist dictatorship of Peruvian Gen. Juan Velasco, who carried out a largely failed agrarian reform, nationalized industries and forged close military ties with the Soviet Union. His economic plans unsettle many in the middle and upper classes. And some voters worry that members of his Indian-descended family are avowed racists and ultranationalists. His father describes himself as a Marxist, expresses admiration for Hitler and believes Peru's Indians and mestizos should rule. Humala insists he does not share their extremist beliefs.

He has the support of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. His rapid growth in popularity and close association with Chávez and recently elected president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, reflects the emergence of a more radical and populist left in Latin America, particularly in the impoverished Andean region.

Humala, a (now retired) Army Lieutenant Colonel, led an uprising in Toquepala against then President Alberto Fujimori in October 2000. The main reason for the rebellion was the return to Peru of Vladimiro Montesinos, the former intelligence chief, who had fled Peru in search of asylum in Panama
after having been caught on video trying to bribe an opposition MP. This lead to increasing fears that he still maintained considerable power in the Peruvian government.
Humala and about 60 other Peruvian soldiers revolted against senior Army Commanders. By the end of the rebellion however, many of Humala's men would desert him leaving him with only 7 men. During the revolt Humala had called on Peruvian "patriots" to join him in the rebellion, and some 300 former soldiers answered his call. His revolt also was able to gain considerable sympathy from the Peruvian populace with the influential left-of-center newspaper La Republica calling him "valiant and decisive, unlike most in Peru". The newspaper also had many letters sent in by readers with accolades to Ollanta and his men.

In the aftermath the Army had sent out hundreds of soldiers to try and capture Humala and his remaining men. They had managed to stay in hiding long enough for the political situation to change, with President Fujimori being impeached from office and Valentin Paniagua being made interim president.
This gave him the ability to come out of hiding and releasing a statement officially calling off the rebellion. Humala and his men would march to Lima and swear their allegiance to Paniagua.
He was pardoned by Congress and was allowed to return to military duty. He was sent to Paris then to South Korea until December 2004, when he was forcibly retired. His being forced out of the army is suspected to have been part of the motivation behind his brother, Antauro, leading another etnocacerista rebellion in January 2005.
Ollanta and his brother are the foremost leaders of the "Movimiento Etnocacerista", an ethnic nationalist group composed of former and current Peruvian soldiers. The name "etnocacerista" refers to 19th century Peruvian president and war hero Andrés Avelino Cáceres. During the War of the Pacific, Cáceres led the Peruvian resistance against Chilean occupying forces.
Etnocaceristas strongly embrace their Incan heritage, nationalization of the country's industries, the reintroduction of the death penalty, the legalization of coca cultivation, and a strong anti-Chilean stance particularly against Chilean investors which many etnocaceristas claim are manipulating the country's economy.
The name etnocacerista itself is composed of two parts, the first evoking ethnic identity and strong identification with the country's Incan Native American origins. The second part of the name "cacerista" refers to 19th century Peruvian president and war hero Andrés Avelino Cáceres. During the War of the Pacific, Cáceres led the Peruvian resistance against Chilean occupying forces.
Etnocaceristas strongly embrace their Incan heritage, nationalization of the country's industries, the reintroduction of the death penalty, the legalization of coca cultivation, and a strong anti-Chilean stance particularly against Chilean investors which many etnocaceristas claim are manipulating the country's economy.

see also: Humala - 'They want to destroy my candidacy'

more infos and background


At 1/23/2006 01:42:00 PM, Blogger Marcela wrote...

Good, article Inka, very illustrative because we can have a better idea about his military career and his controvertial past, which indicates that he wouldn´t be a good president for Perú not only for his history but for his radical ideas as well. We don´t want a President that thinks that only people who was born in the Sierra are peruvians and that they are the only ones who embrace our Incan heritage and it is a shame that he wants identify his party with our great hero Andrés Avelino Cáceres, known as "El Brujo de los Andes". There are too many reasons that show that this improvised candidate cannot to be our President.
Thanks for your interest in Peruvian politics matters Inka.

At 1/23/2006 06:29:00 PM, Blogger Inka-Wolfy wrote...

gracias Marci. I will respond to you in a new post a.s.a.p.

At 1/24/2006 03:15:00 PM, Blogger De Luis wrote...

Hi thanks for the post. I think this man is the worst thing that can happen to Peru. Like the ones he admires he will destroy the Peruvian Economy even further. Fortunately (older) Peruvians already suffered enough extreme leftism violence to know where to the Humala path will lead.

At 1/24/2006 07:56:00 PM, Blogger Inka-Wolfy wrote...

Being German and all, when I hear or read the words "nationalist, socialist, leftist," in one sentence to describe a possible future country leader with a military background, my ears go straight up and my eyes wide open.

I love this country, its people and their character, its traditions and heritage. I believe this country has great potential to improve in many aspects, educationally and economically. I am not saying this just to be polite or to throw around with compliments. Peruvians are hard workers and the important thing is they WANT to work to make a decent living.
The poor are not spoiled by a safety net of welfare like in the USA (well, that one is quite porous) or Germany (which is unaffordable).
Handing out sandwiches to the poor or candy to the kids gains voters instantly, but is not a solution. He should have handed out some seeds and books instead.
I believe, his ideas and ideolgies, as far as they are known and made public, will throw Peru back into oblivion. The democracy is still young and fragile and the current party landscape doesn't make it any easier for them to choose. People here don't trust politicians. Corruption, lies and false promises, members of congress who make 3 times as much money than in Canada for example (in relation to the people's average income), who can blame them.
Many people outside of Lima still don't have electricity and they live outside the regular newspaper circulation. Their source of information relies solely on the word-of-mouth scheme. They need all the help they can get. Even if it means higher taxes for the middle- and upper-class to support that. So be it. And a little anti-americanism, if you can afford it, may actually have a refreshing effect at times, you don't have to jump off a bridge if your "big brother" tells you to. Previous and current presidents often have been sucked up by US tactics in contract negotiating. What Peru needs is a strong, intelligent president, experienced in all facets of politics, one who cares about ALL Peruvians and isn't just focused on one group.
If you drive through Lima today, you can see the slogan written on bridges and overpasses: "Lima - una ciudad para todos".

one view, just my 2 soles

At 1/24/2006 10:05:00 PM, Blogger Inka-Wolfy wrote...

el piojo,
welcome to "un lobo". post often :-)

At 1/25/2006 05:21:00 AM, Blogger De Luis wrote...

I agree with you, (but not on the tax part) that an intelligent and wise president is needed, i hope the Peruvians wil see (before it's too late) that National Socialism leads know here.
Fortunately many people say (Lourdes es menos mal) No group should rule another group, They all should work together, Humala divides the people……..

At 1/26/2006 08:13:00 AM, Blogger Inka-Wolfy wrote...

one thing I noticed about Humala is his demeanor. Every time I see him on TV, he seems angry or he's trying to defend himself for something. I have never seen him smile on TV, not even for one second. And that's irritating to me. I am not the biggest TV watcher, perhaps I've missed the happy, friendly, optimistic part in him. Since he gained momentum in the surveys, media attention has increased naturally. Instead of spreading confidence, he's going the self-pity route. He feels victimized by the recent media scrutiny and that seems to be his strategy: look at me, everyone is against me, I am the victim...and that's how we capture voter's hearts.
I feel sorry already. How do you feel?

At 1/30/2006 06:24:00 PM, Blogger troutsky wrote...

Would you make the same criticism of Hugo Chavez, who is from the military and is a nationalist or "regionalist" (ALBA)and is also a leftist? Do you critique his programs in the same way? In Venezuela the ideological line is also the division between class, wealth and to a great degree,race. Do these same conditions eist in Peru?

At 1/30/2006 08:12:00 PM, Blogger Inka-Wolfy wrote...

hola troutsky, and welcome.

Regarding your Chavez question: generally speaking, I'd answer your question with "yes" (unlike Chavez, I wouldn't want to meddle into foreign countries' affairs :-) ), but I am not a politician or a TV celebrity like Pat Robertson with his stupid remarks, just a little blogger with a political opinion.
I don't live in Venezuela, I can only speak from a distance.

Any president, who's ideology is to favor one group of people in his own country over others, is dangerous in my opinion. The job of a president is to unite and strive for solutions and compromises that benefit everybody, the whole country. He should also keep his focus on his own country. He feels obligated to fight "US imperialism", yet his own actions and speeches lead us to believe that he intends to become the leader of all of Latin America. Isn't that a form of imperialism in itself? And why do socialistic leaders, who fight for the rights of the "working class" and the poor, always start their tenure with rearming their military forces, instead of, for example, investing in education, health care and so on??? I think, Colombia and Ecuador may be shivering already....

It's always tough to compare two countries and their current social and political situation. I am sure there are many similarities betw. Peru and Venezuela ..oil money isn't one of them .. but the growing gap between rich and poor is. More than a third of the continent's population lives in poverty.

The leftist, socialist movement is all over L.A. and one of the reasons is GWB's disregard for this region of the world. I understand he has other priorities. Right now I can say that "free trade" agreements with the US sound more like a threat to people and creates fear rather than hope and optimism.

What is your opinion?

At 1/31/2006 12:40:00 AM, Blogger chepoaqp wrote...

good article but, dont yall think is time for a change in peru, i mean all these years under conservative goverment and.... just corruption and more poverty

At 2/06/2006 04:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote...

People in this website have posted comments in favor of capitalism and the free-enterprise system as if they really knew what they were talking about. Much of their claims are based on their own opinions coupled with what they may hear on the mainstream media.
What have all these previous conservative governments done for Peru? Is there less poverty, crime, hunger? At this moment, Peru is poorer than it has ever been. Have any of you passed by the shanty towns of Lima? or even rode a public bus in the congested roads of Lima? At least, in Inca times, everyone had something to eat and wear. I think that's the kind of government Ollanta Humala wants for his country. If there is any group he has divided during his campaign, is the haves and the haves-not. The haves in Peru represent only less than 9 percent of the population but are the most influential group in Peru. This group have been ruling the rest of the 90% of the population and deciding their economic, social and political fate. Now you tell me, do you want a candidate that represents the interests of the 90 percent of the population living in poverty or a candidate that represents only the rich conservative 9% of the population of Peru??? If democracy really dominates, then who should be ruling Peru?


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