Peru’s democratic regime enters the bicentennial of the Republic amid the most complex stress test recorded in the past 20 years. As with heart patients, financial systems, or a nuclear power plant, stress tests are designed to measure the level of pressure each of them can withstand when faced with adverse scenarios.
Sadly, what was meant to be the path from the end of one stage to the start of another has turned into a tedious and bumpy transit that still threatens to trip us over to precariousness and institutional collapse.
On July 28, Pedro Castillo Terrones, teacher and union leader of Andean origin, donned the presidential sash after 43 long days that divided the country in a bitter dispute that put on the agenda the only coherent government proposal throughout the candidate’s campaign. . from the left: convene a Constituent Assembly in order to replace the current Constitution, promulgated in 1993.
The paths to a new Constitution are not delimited by the current Constitution, but only by partial reforms, which in themselves must be approved in two successive ordinary legislatures by two-thirds of the votes in Parliament, or 86 votes. In this sense, the act of juggling of President Pedro Castillo and Vladimir Cerrón, leader of the Free Peru Party, should be supported by popular mobilization through a popular consultation or a referendum which would condition the Congress to review the possibility of installing a Constituent Assembly.
On July 26, the Administrative Council of the Congress of the Republic was elected for the 2021-2022 legislature. Initially, three lists were presented, one from the ruling party in alliance with two political parties and one non-group member, and two lists from the opposition. In Peru, the country Kafka imagined, absurdity is the norm, so the leading list was excluded from the race due to a gross administrative error, since lists with ungrouped members of Congress are not eligible. For this reason, the opposition lists demanded the inadmissibility of the ruling list and, by show of hands, won their first political victory by preventing the registration of the ruling list for the election of the Board of Directors. .
Besides the anecdote, the incident shows a fundamental disorganization and an ignorance of the parliamentary faction of the ruling party, which sows doubt on the capacity to generate an organized political current with the aim of promoting a Constituent Assembly. Likewise, the opposition acquires an advantageous position which, if used irresponsibly, could lead the country to a scenario of hasty vacations without having consolidated arguments of incontestable moral incapacity.
At best, the new government of Pedro Castillo and Free Peru will navigate a context of serious economic and health crisis, with the aim of launching a political process that will trap the country in Byzantine discussions for two or three years. At worst, the conflict between the ruling party and the opposition could end in a collision, either with the vacancy of Pedro Castillo, or with a kind of irregular and potentially authoritarian putsch towards a Constituent Assembly that does not respect the current standards of the parties. constitutional provisions on the matter.
Ideally, though unlikely, President Castillo should understand the urgent need to unravel the overwhelming circumstances that led to this collapse. The country’s economic crisis and the nearly 200,000 deaths caused by SARS-CoV2 must be faced with a sense of duty and a long-term vision.
The bicentenary of the Republic is lived in a disappointing and regrettable atmosphere. It is painful to see in the collective atmosphere the uncertainty and unease that these 18 months of pandemic and the electoral crisis have left as a climax. Perhaps the helplessness that Peruvians may have felt at the start of the Republic, in 1821, when they chose to pursue this sovereign dream that requires the capacity for autonomy, is repeated in a circular fashion.
However, this crisis could also be a new opportunity. It could be the occasion to show that, to paraphrase the poet César Moro, Peru is not only a country where one cooks beans, but, to recall the historian Jorge Basadre, “Peru is good, unfortunately a problem, but also, fortunately, a possibility “.
Happy bicentenary, happy July 28.
* Spanish translation by Dâmaris Burity
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