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Politics | July 27, 2011 [ 9:35 ]

Peru’s Garcia: achievements will be recognized by history

Alan García (Photo: Serpes)
The day before leaving office President Alan García thanked his ministers, regional presidents and mayors for the perseverance and dedication in their work for the country. García said the achievements of his administration will be recognized by history.

"I wanted to thank all of the ministers, also the regional presidents have put in a great deal of effort into their jobs, and mayors who are those who develop directly and closely with the people," he said, in an article in Andina.

In the last session of the Council of Ministers, the president also said he was satisfied with the achievements of his administration and reiterated that "when you put zeal asside, history will recognize what these ministers achieved with their effort."

"Much will have to be done for our country, but I think that the path chosen was the correct one, and the perseverance and the dedication was necessary" he said.

"A salute to Peru, to the youth of Peru, to the poor of Peru, to the authorities of Peru, and as a follower of (Victor Raul) Haya de La Torre all I wanted to do was make a government that gives bread with freedom . A salute to Peru, to it’s future and success," he concluded.

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Politics | July 27, 2011 [ 6:46 ]

Opinion: Will Humala's first cabinet fulfill Peru's expectations?

By Patricia del Río for Perú21
Translated and edited by Jorge Riveros-Cayo

Opinion: Will Humala's first cabinet fullfill Peru's expectations?
Humala seems to follow Lula's path in appointing his cabinet member. "Will it manage to keep the equation between economic growth with a major social inclusion?" asks Del Río. (Cartoon: Carlín)

This week president elect Ollanta Humala announced the names of his first cabinet members. The first reactions have been positive because, in general terms, it seems that Humala has succeeded in gathering a team that will gain consensus: Luis Miguel Castilla as Finance Minister, Kurt Burneo as Minister of Production, and José Luis Silva Martinotti as Minister of Exports and Tourism, are people that transmit stability to those that demanded a responsible management of the economy. On the other side, Aída García Naranjo as minister of Women’s Affairs, and Rafael Roncagliolo as Foreign Minister satisfy the expectations of those who wanted left-wing people in the government that will assure an inclusive administration.

For those that voted for Humala, but with the expectation that Perú Posible – Toledo’s political party – was going to guarantee economic and democratic continuity, some of the ex-president’s men are also in the cabinet, such as Daniel Mora as Minister of Defense, and Alberto Borea [1]. The Prime Minister position has been reserved for the president's right-hand man so far: the entrepreneur Salomón Lerner Ghittis. The right-hand is quite clear that it will be Nadine.
We have a really mixed group that gathers people from different ideologies and with distinct technical and political profiles. It all points that the rest of cabinet members will be appointed under the same logic [2]. The question, however, is: Will it be a cabinet that fulfills people’s expectations? Will it manage to keep that difficult equation of keeping economic growth with a major social inclusion? That is Humala’s biggest challenge and his administration will have a hard time to deal with it.
If there is something clear about Alan García’s administration is the enormous inequality generated by the development model used during his government. This has also created groups of Peruvians living totally different realities and even extremely opposite. According to a study made by Viceversa Consulting firm, from the ten poorest regions in Peru, seven concentrate all the mining production in the country. Five of these, additionally, have the highest rates of social conflicts. This is not about ignorant villagers confronting soulless investors, but of a permanent tension between groups with absolutely opposite interests.

Have we thought about why an aymara farmer should care if a mining company pays windfall taxes to the State if he has kept being poor all these years? Why should an inhabitant from the most remote village in Cusco be interested in the gas production of Camisea, or if more tourists visit Machu Picchu, if his life remains as miserable as it was when there was crisis and terrorism?

Those of us who have benefited from it have learned the lesson: Without economic growth there is no development. But the damage made by this unequal and disproportionate growth, brought about by the State’s incapacity to distribute resources and the frivolousness of the present and former government administrations, that were pleased with the audience's applause, without caring for the wellbeing of the people, is making us turn into a society without common goals and objectives. We have become a group of citizens that – due to the lack of political parties and representative institutions – is unable to think in what kind of society we want to build for the future and for our children.

The farmer that blocks the highway, the entrepreneur that manages to get a law passed in Congress that only benefits his business, the mining companies that want to convince us – through a commercial aired in the middle of a soccer game – why they shouldn’t pay more taxes: All of them are protecting their square meter of power, defending their own place. No Peruvian today is thinking about what kind of country we should live in, but instead what kind of life they want to have.

The challenge of Humala’s new administration is huge because he is promising to satisfy everybody. Even when that is not an impossible task, let us be reminded that when demands and expectations go through private and particular interests, consensus cannot be reached as simply as by having a mixed group and exotic cabinet. Good luck!

Editor's Notes: [1] At the end, Humala did not appoint Borea as Justice Minister as the press speculated. [2] This op-ed column was written before Humala completed the appointment of all his cabinet.

Patricia del Río hosts a program in Radio Programas del Perú and writes a weekly political column in Perú21. Read her profile of Jaime Bayly in
15 Peruvians of 2010.

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Politics | July 26, 2011 [ 15:43 ]

Opinion: Is the National Stadium for all Peruvians?

By Víctor Vich for
Translated and edited by Jorge Riveros-Cayo

Opinion: Is the National Stadium for all Peruvians?
The National Stadium was inaugurated by president Alan García last Sunday, despite it has not been finished. (Image:

Beyond the accusations about the constant budget excesses, the truth is that the photographs of the new National Stadium are shocking. Not because of its modern design or the funny lights on the exterior structure of the stadium, but instead due to its eloquent remodeling that seems to have been done to benefit a minority and not to accommodate a larger amount of spectators. The excessive boxes built have been privatized in benefit of that minority that can enjoy the economic growth.

How could such an architectural design be approved? How is it possible that the remodeling of the National Stadium was planned for only the benefit of a few? What happened is incredible and shameful, not only, as I said, because of the undeniable evidences of budget mismanagements, but for the symbology of its new design and what it represents: The condescending enjoyment of those that have power to mark the difference between the rich and the poor.

Is there any questioning among our Peruvian liberal thinkers about the limits of how the capital should function and the power it serves? Some years ago, in the middle of an electoral campaign, Woodman – current president of the Peruvian Sports Institute (IPD) – was accused for being “the candidate of the rich,” not because of the wealth he actually has, but instead for representing a “vision of the world” that ignores inequality, and that seems to promote it instead, and that doesn’t seem compromised in fighting it back.

I’ll explain myself: Any stadium from any private sports club has the right to build all the exclusive boxes it can. But the National Stadium cannot follow such a model because it is a “national” site, a public place for all. Hence, its design should have had in mind to promote an experience of integration instead of encouraging hierarchy and disparity.

The authoritarianism that exists in Peru doesn’t only refer to a lifestyle but to the way public management is executed. Nowadays, we witness a “capital authoritarianism” that wipes out anything in its way. Today we observe, more and more, the oppressive presence of economic power and its unlimited exercise over cities and citizens. Far from having learned something from the last decades, in Peru we keep observing the absolute lack of interest to neutralize existing hierarchies, at least at a symbolic level.

During this last presidential campaign, we were told that in order to have “chorreo” – the dripping of the so called economic growth – first there should be a major generation of wealth. But what is actually happening is totally the opposite. The more wealth there is, the more hierarchies that appear and a more sophisticated system of social exclusion is built. The new boxes of the remodeled National Stadium are an excellent example of this. They are horrendous because they are a clear sign of a period marked by absolute tyranny of the capital, and the complicity of a State that is passively subjugated to its power.

In the past, architects had in mind the collective organization of space that, in theory, belonged to everybody. This is why, fifty years ago, the National Stadium was designed with smaller soccer fields surrounding it. It was an open and friendly place profoundly integrated with the population. Today it is exactly the opposite. It can be quite of a bad taste to say it now, but when Peruvians start to attend the games of our soccer team at the National Stadium, what we will sadly see is a sports building that will confront us, once again, with a harshly fragmented society, (maybe much more than before) and insistently hierarchical.

Regardless of the optimistic speeches that circulate about progress and development, we still have in Peru a social enjoyment to mark inequalities and to be delighted by them. In the very few days left of his administration, president Alan García keeps inaugurating hideously monumental buildings, many of them badly constructed or not finished. Is this a successful and democratizing government? “Ha, ha,” I would say as Bryce’s stupendous book title.

Víctor Vich is an associate professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP) and a principal researcher at the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos (IEP). 
He is one of the most insightful academics in Peru today.

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Politics | July 26, 2011 [ 12:38 ]

Peru’s new government to focus on education, health, social programs

Marisol Espinoza (Photo:Andina/Gustavo Sánchez )
The new government will change the current budget and prioritize investment in education, health and social programs, according to vice president-elect Marisol Espinoza.

According to news agency Andina, Espinoza stated she had already talked to future Minister of Finance, Miguel Castilla, on this issue, which is one of the concerns of President-elect Ollanta Humala.

"We talked to him to redefine the budget, based on proposals from Gana Peru [Humala’s Party] which revolved around social inclusion programs; these programs include issues of education and health, and social programs that are not already included in the budget," she said.

She said the new government would work toward economic growth of no less than 6%, by the end of the year.

"Our commitment is for the country to grow with equity - that the growth does not stop. (Castilla) will be in charge of making growth go to 6% (...) which is a conservative goal," she told local CPN Radio.

Espinoza further noted that the new cabinet - which will take office on July 28 - gives trust to the country and would work "toward a path of social inclusion."

Finally, she said the government would be careful with public resources and would comply with the law on this matter.

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Politics | July 25, 2011 [ 22:17 ]

Singer Susana Baca will be Peru’s next minister of culture

Susana Baca (Photo: El Comercio /Archive )
The last two remaining ministries of the new administration have been filled. An article published by El Comercio reported that women would fill the remaining two ministries.

Singer Susana Baca has been put forward as Minister of Culture. Baca is a Latin Grammy winner and through her touring has promoted Afro-Peruvian music around the world. The renowned singer has no previous experience in government.

Baca graduated from Cantuta University, where she studied education. Aside from a performer, she is also a scholar of Peruvian music. Baca is a member of the ethics board Proética, and in 1987 she was named a Cultural Ambassador of Goodwill for UNICEF in Peru. She has also directed an NGO called ‘Water, Snow’, which sought to promote culture.

President-elect Ollanta Humala also named Patricia Salas O’Brian as Minister of Education.

Salas has a PhD in Social Sciences from the Universidad Católica Santa María in Arequipa. She has led studies in development strategies and social policy at the University San Agustín in Arequipa.

Salas has also been president of the National Council of Education. She also participated in the design of the National Education Project, which was presented to the government for implementation.

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Politics | July 25, 2011 [ 9:18 ]

Peru’s García will not attend Humala’s inauguration

Alan García during his 1985 and 2006 inaugurations (Photo: El Comercio )
Outgoing President Alan Garcia has said he will not attend Ollanta Humala’s presidential inauguration.

According to an article published in El Comercio, critics of Garcia assumed this to be a snub against his successor, whom he defeated in the 2006 elections.

As García inspected a new school, he said the inauguration on July 28th "is to hear the new president’s message."

He recalled that although he had attended the inauguration of Alberto Fujimori in 1990, "there was such unrest in congress, because of my presence, that I’d rather focus on my health, and say ‘Let the new president give his message freely, let’s not vent our frustrations in front of foreign heads of state.'"

García recalled the booing her received the last day of his first term: "it’s almost inevitable, MPs take advantage of the situation, they make noise and shout and it’s not good for the country to do this in front of visitors foreigners. Finally, it is also not good for me, because I suffered this in the 1990. "

He added he wasn’t mandated by the constitution to attend the event, and considered it better to leave the government palace while the new president was being sworn in.

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Politics | July 22, 2011 [ 13:49 ]

Peru’s President Garcia says he will not run in 2016

García, meeting with Brazilian ambassador on Thursday (Photo:Andina )
Less than a week from leaving office President Alan Garcia denied rumors that he was intending to run for office in 2016.

"In my view, I’d prefer that new people make a run for government in 2016," he told reporters at the government palace, and quoted in an article by Andina.

García said there were some who persisted on saying he had an obsession for power and that they aimed to attack his reputation when he leaves office.

"They will try to do it but I already saw that movie and all they would do is accelerate a return to power. My advice to my opponents: do not mess with me and I will not mess with you. If they mess with me, I’ll have go back into politics with all my strength,” he added.

García thanked the people of Peru for the positive approval rating given to his outgoing government. According to the latest survey by Datum Internacional, García will leave office with a 44% approval rating.

"We’ve managed 151,200 public works, invested S/. 86 billion and generated 2 and a half million jobs, we have tripled foreign exchange from 15 thousand to 47 thousand, doubled exports from S/. 17 billion to S/. 37 billion with a projected S/. 43 billion this year, we have reduced poverty from 48 to 30% and dramatically reduced illiteracy," he argued.

García also confirmed that, at the request of the next government, he had postponed the Summit of Andean Community of Nations, which had been scheduled for this weekend in Lima.

He also said he would meet with the presidents of Ecuador and Brazil, Rafael Correa and Dilma Rousseff this July 27, at the government palace.

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Politics | July 22, 2011 [ 11:39 ]

Peru’s Garcia comments on new ministers

Alan García (Photo: Andina )
President Alan García has stated that Ollanta Humala’s cabinet appointments are “reasonably balanced.”

After declining to comment on the issue the day of the announcement, García has said that the new ministers are "reasonably balanced, and understand the need to reassure international and domestic investors, so that investment and employment continues to grow.”

In an article published in Andina, García singled out the nomination of Salomon Lerner Ghitis as Prime Minister, and said that his role as an entrepreneur gives him a realistic view of public administration. García added that Lerner’s work at Transparencía, places him on the democratic side of the country.

García also commented on the appointment of Rafael Roncagliolo, a sociologist and journalist, as new Foreign Minister, by emphasizing Roncagliolo’s skills and experience in the National Accord’s forum.

García will leave office on July 28th, when the new administration of President-elect Ollanta Humala takes office.

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Politics | July 22, 2011 [ 10:54 ]

Peru’s Humala creates Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion

 (Photo: El Comercio/Archive )
A day after President-elect, Ollanta Humala, made his first cabinet appointments, some changes were made.

A senior representative from Gana Perú, Humala’s party, stated that there would not be a Ministry of Production and Social Inclusion, as had initially been announced.

According to an article published by El Comercio, the representative said that there would instead be a Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion.

The new ministry would take over certain social issues that were formerly handled by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Finance. The representative said that Kurt Burneo would be appointed as head of this new ministry.

According to the article, the ministry would be the governing body in charge of all social policies proposed by the new government. Programs already mentioned by Humala include: Pension 65 and Cuna Más.

The representative from Gana Perú, emphasized that the Ministry of Production would remain in charge of the sectors involving fisheries and industries and that the Ministry of Women’s Affairs would still be in place, but would undergo some changes.

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Politics | July 21, 2011 [ 14:10 ]

Peruvian politicians respond to Humala’s cabinet appointments

President-elect Humala (Photo: El Comercio )
After President-elect Ollanta Humala made his nominees known, local press was abuzz with reactions from politicians.

Juan Sheput, head of Perú Posible, said the nominations of Salomon Lerner and Luis Miguel Castilla Ghitis would bring a sense of calm to the country and businesses.

Sheput mentioned that Lerner also helped the government of former president Alejandro Toledo. “We are confident that his appointment will give calm to the country,” he said, in an article in El Comercio.

"Perú Posible is very satisfied with the nomination, because we know Salomón from long ago. He’s had a strong social calling since his college days. He’s also led the Association for Civil Transparency, during a difficult time for Peruvian democracy," Sheput said, in a statement to radio station RPP.

Sheput said Castilla would continue the economic policies of recent years, which "have been successful", but insisted they must be complemented with a series of social programs. "It is useless to speak of resources if they are not generating distribution," he said.

Raul Castro, secretary general of Partido Popular Cristiano (PPC), told news agency Andina that the nominations gave an excellent signal of continuity of governance. Castro said nominations were "a good letter of introduction from President Humala.”

Castro added that most of the nominees were highly qualified individuals, in their respective fields. "Overall, these appointments have the characteristic of being mature, from a political point of view," he said.

Lourdes Flores, president of PPC, said Lerner’s nomination was "natural."

"I get the impression that the cabinet seeks to be moderate, at least in this early stage," she said in an interview with Canal N, and quoted in El Comercio.

Flores said that the re-appointment of Julio Velarde as head of the Central Reserve Bank, as well as the appointments of Castilla and Burneo, also furthered these notions of a moderate cabinet.

The Peruvian Exporters’ Association (Adex) welcomed Castillas nomination as finance minister. Patricia Teullet, general manager of Adex, told Andina the nomination was “a magnificent sign that Humala has heard investors’ concerns."

"It reveals pragmatism and that he’s prioritizing long-term development over measures designed for effect and with an ideological face," Teullet added.

El Comercio reported that during a visit to the National Institute for Children’s Health, President García declined to answer reporter’s questions about the nominees, stating he had a sore throat, and his doctor had recommended him not to speak.

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