Peru crystallizes the crisis of political systems in Latin America. The past five years have seen four presidents parade. Some, like Manuel Merino, did not last more than four days. Others have a purely technocratic legitimacy, like the current leader Francisco Sagati.
During this time, party politics emptied and Congress was overrun with all kinds of adventurers, charlatans and opportunists. The scorched earth in which politics takes place has made the emergence of candidates with the profile of Keiko Fujimori and Pedro Castillo almost inevitable.
The factors behind the Peruvian crisis are present at different levels in the rest of Latin America. The country has never broken with the authoritarian style of Fujimorism, marked by police violence, state capture and savage extraction of natural resources. The judicialization of politics destroyed the attempt to rebuild the political class and motivated the resurrection of the far right.
Finally, the pandemic has plunged society into a permanent state of despair. Last week’s review of the death toll, which put Peru at the top of the global death toll, sums up the legacy of the past five years.
The context of the disintegration of regional institutions and of political transition in Latin America reinforces internal conflicts. The OAS, led by farcist Luis Almagro, has the credibility of an Iraqi tribunal under Saddam Hussein. Mercosur, vandalized by the Bolsonaro government, is only a shadow of its past.
What remained of the moral authority of the United States, badly damaged in Peru after the recognition of the Fujimori coup in 1992 by the Bush presidency, evaporated with the advance of China in 2010. Currently in Construction, the port complex, a hundred kilometers from Lima, will be the gateway from China to Latin America and will mark Peru’s entry into a new geopolitical era.
In the midst of so many changes, democratic stability has become a side issue. Thus, despite the technical draw on Sunday evening (6), it is already possible to distinguish some trends. A functioning government of Pedro Castillo, which lacks a lasting partisan base and institutional experience, would be something close to a miracle. Keiko Fujimori’s wishes to uphold the constitution in the home stretch of the elections make those who know his movement smile. As the leader of the majority party in Congress in recent years, she has done everything to worsen the political situation. His authoritarian spirit remains intact.
The scorched earth in Peru is a wake-up call for Latin America and Brazil in particular. The resilience of Fujimorism, which will remain the most organized political force in the country regardless of the outcome of the election, shows that the extreme right-wing power project in Latin America has not run out of steam after the defeat of Donald Trump .
This observation also serves as a warning to those who hope to quickly turn the page of pocketbookism: radicalization of the right is a long and potentially irreversible process.
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