Although, if you ask me, I’d say his tears are of a distinctly crocodilian variety…
Peru’s President Alan Garcia has said his government has not done enough to improve the lives of the poor.
In a speech marking his first year in office, Mr Garcia – who has seen a sharp decline in his popularity – urged Peruvians to show patience.
He promised that increased investment would cut poverty before the end of his term in 2011.
Peru’s economy is booming, but correspondents say the poor are yet to feel the benefits of its growth.
Some would call that surprising, but anyone who’s seen the IMF/World Bank “shock therapy” at work, would recognize the symptoms right away. It’s positively incredible how many “economic miracles” of that nature are in fact illusions–and human disasters.
Mr Garcia has faced protests by several different trade unions in recent weeks.
He has apologised for calling some of the demonstrators “communists” and “parasites”.
“I would have loved to do a lot more,” he said in a speech to the country’s Congress.
He promised to build houses for 1.2 million Peruvians before he leaves office in 2011, and said increased investment would “change the social face of Peru”.
Mr Garcia’s popularity has dropped from 63% a year ago to 32%, a recent poll suggests.
He urged the US Congress to push ahead with a Free Trade Agreement with Peru, saying such a deal would help the poorest Peruvians.
So you can see how he’s had such a precipitious drop–if you’ve got eyes, that is. Calling those who campaign for social justice “parasites” and “communists” is one sure way to lose popularity.
Another, less obvious, is to follow the money–to your own defeat. Foreign investment, so often touted as the economic panacea for underdeveloped nations, turns out to be the surest way to keep them poor and backward. Clearly, Garcia has learned nothing from the past, when he attempted to negotiate with the IMF and World Bank, and wound up with his tail between his legs.
What Garcia hasn’t recognized yet that the “communists” and “parasites” have, is that investment takes out more money than it brings in. That is its nature. It was designed that way for a purpose: to make sure the foreign investors get richer while the poor locals get nothing but a diminishing return. And of course, their national coffers take a major hit. All the money that could go to things that truly build a country up, like universal healthcare and education, ends up down the toilet of debt servicing.
There is simply no negotiating with bankers unscrupulous enough to make such insane demands. The best thing to do with the IMF and World Bank is what Botswana did years ago–tell them to fuck off.
But I don’t seriously expect Garcia to do that, or he’d have done it already. Instead, it’s his fearsome counterparts in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador who are doing it.
Meanwhile, apologies won’t put food on anyone’s table.