My gosh, the dominoes are just tumbling in Latin America, aren’t they? It’s getting so that you’d hardly recognize the place anymore. First it was Venezuela, then Bolivia and Ecuador. Argentina and (for a while) Chile have had some progressive types, too. Brazil is now on its second one. And Paraguay got a “red” ex-bishop, and Uruguay an old Tupamaro. Honduras had a liberal guy who took his cues from the more progressive neighbors to the south, and he scared the shit out of Washington so badly, they had to back a coup to depose him before he rewrote the Honduran constitution on true democratic lines. And now, after a bloated, disastrous term of “investment grade” Twobreakfasts García, look who’s finally in power in Peru:
Yep, he made it. He increased his vote respectably following his loss last time around, and beat out the daughter of a dictator on the second round of balloting this time ’round. That it even went to a second round between those two, of all people, was something surprising for me; I’d have thought Peruvians were so tired of neoliberal neofascism that they’d be electing him in one. Especially since the booming success of Venezuela under Chavecito, who hasn’t been a bit shy about his moral support where Ollanta is concerned. WTF, Peru?
Of course, all the usual voices of unreason have started cranking up already, with the usual belchings of fact-free prose. The CS Monitor, in particular, haz Teh Stoopid in a major way. How the election of a leftist could possibly mark a decline in the Latin American left, I don’t know. Guess they had to spin this in favor of neoliberal bullshit somehow, or the corporatists behind them would scream. Everyone who’s been following Otto (who is not an Ollanta fan himself) even halfway attentively, knows that “investment grade” Peru’s so-called economic growth is a big lie for the most part. My advice is to take whatever Sara Miller Llana says and rotate it 180 degrees if you want to get anywhere near the truth, and then dump a huge truckload of salt on it.
Or better still, read Upside Down World. They’ve also got good analysis from Mark Weisbrot, who notes that in fact, the big losers here were the traditional ruling caste of Peru. Stick THAT in your crack-pipe and smoke it, Sara!
And The Nation is another solid go-to place. They actually report on LatAm leftists without prejudice, and their piece on Ollanta’s win and what it means is must-read analysis. (It’s also very damning of the imperialist interference revealed by Wikileaks. Read it, read it, READ IT!)
Meanwhile, here are my own thoughts:
Plenty of Peruvians, especially in the working classes, are surely hoping Ollanta will, indeed, be the “Peruvian Chávez”. They’re also looking at the changes in neighboring Bolivia and hoping that some of Evo’s hard-won good luck rubs off. They’ve been waiting an awfully long time; at least five years, probably much more. Of course, how much Ollanta will succeed in copying Chavecito’s and Evo’s success depends on how much of the Peruvian parliament he can get behind him. I don’t know what’s up with that.
It would be nice if Ollanta’s Peru could be the next ALBA signatory; it would be especially hopeful for the indigenous peoples, who’ve seen all kinds of terrible (and bloody) setbacks under the overtly racist rule of Alan García, who had no qualms about selling their land right out from under them and even called them “dogs” for daring to protest against that. (None of them are sorry to see HIM go.) But I don’t know whether or when that will happen; again, a lot hinges on the parliament, and it appears to be a house much divided against itself.
Let’s face it, in a country as counterintuitive as Peru is, any victory over imperialism is worth celebrating, however small. I don’t know if Ollanta will exceed expectations or even meet them. But at least he’s not going in there totally friendless and alone; he’ll have support from Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, at the very least. And in any case, he can do no worse than has already been done. He beat out the worst, so it’s worth hoping for the best. I dare to hope he will change Peru for the better, and I look forward to seeing how he does that.
¡Viva Ollanta PRESIDENTE!