Ollanta Humala is the new elected President of Peru. His victory over Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of imprisoned Alberto Fujimori, counts more on the side of ethics than politics.
Voting in Peru is compulsory; if you failed to cast your vote on election day, you will have to pay a fine before requesting or signing any official documents, or suffer future limitations when doing any type of commercial transactions. As if this wasn’t enough of a nuisance, electors are forced to endure, not only the long waiting queues for voting, but something worse: they are left to choose between the evil, and the stinky but most convenient one.
That has just happened on June 5th and the same had happened five years ago. In both cases, the main character playing the evil role was Ollanta Humala. The corrupt elite, associated with foreign investors, mining companies, banks and the media, compelled electors to reject Humala, as he was likened to demonized Bolivian Evo Morales and Venezuelan Hugo Chavez, allegedly enemies to wealth and progress in Latin America.
The rival to Humala, in 2006, was Mr Garcia, a sly politician who conducted a catastrophic first term government in the late eighties. He fled the country in 1992 and only returned in 2001 once the serious charges of corruption brought against him reached the time limit for prosecution. In spite of these credentials he was thought to be the less evil candidate for the interests of the corrupt elite, who control the country.
In that year, the most conspicuous rightwing politicians unscrupulously addressed electors this way: “Let’s face it, he stinks, but for the sake of economic growth have a nose peg election and vote for him.”
And they did, and with him Peru has experienced one of the fastest growing economies in the world, reaching an annual 7%, much like giant China, this due to higher prices in the metal commodities markets and also in great extent, due to the income from cocaine production; although never officially acknowledged, let alone registered in books.
Mr Garcia won the run-off election in 2006. Then, he —as a redeemed politician for the rightwing—, has enjoyed a golden partnership with the corrupt elite, being allotted great media coverage to promote foreign investment by opposing the indigenous populations’ claim to be consulted before the mining and oil industries operate in their land. He glaringly coined his model of progress as the opposite of The Dog in the Manger, referring to the Peruvian indigenous peoples as dogs which neither profit, nor allow others to do so.
Mr Garcia is no doubt a peculiar character. In 2007 when Chinese president Hu Jintao visited Lima, he was kissed, hugged and highly praised for investing in Peru by his Peruvian counterpart (Peruvian men don’t have the same way of showing affection as Russians). Two years later, in front of bankers and investors he promised to do whatever be necessary to stop the way to any successor in office capable of jeopardizing his model of progress, (implying directly he will not let Humala succeed). In his quest for economic success and finding a proper successor for him he went far beyond Den Siao Ping’s To get rich is glorious. He confessed to an eventual aspirant to the Peruvian presidency, not to worry about money: “Once you are in this position, money comes to you effortlessly”.
Everything was running smoothly. Humala, by February this year, was not a threat to the Peruvian status quo; he was far behind in the polls until a Wikileaks revelation came up: Peruvian centre-right politicians requested the American Embassy to neutralize Humala in 2006. Thanks to Wikileaks what happened in the past changed the electoral landscape this year. The supposedly honest democrats lost their preference among the electorate. On April Ollanta Humala won the first round elections with 31.7%, the second in contest turned out to be Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of infamous Alberto Fujimori, jailed for looting, killing and fleeing the country, when video footages of bribes and scandalous corruption tumbled down his government.
As they did five years ago with Mr Garcia, the corrupt elite did not stop short in resources to back Mrs Fujimori in order to save the continuation of its privileges. The same international economist who worked for The Empowering of the Poor in Gaddafi’s and Mubarak’s fallen regimes was called in for help. The rich suddenly multiplied their charity donations, an outbreak of generosity overwhelmed the poor: sugar and rice bags, candies, pens and notebooks, cups, T-shirts and even stoves, all of them with the attached photo of Mrs Fujimori and free of charge before election day.
But carrots didn’t come without sticks. With the exception of newspapers such as La República and La Primera, the rest of the mass media delivered poisoned propaganda, making up facts and distorting the truth. The subliminal message was very clear: “Mrs Fujimori carries the shadow and burden of her father’s wrongdoings. She, —as Mr Garcia in 2006—, stinks, but let’s not be so strict, in addition to the nose peg, have a blind eye on crime and vote for her, because the formidable economic growth should not to be stopped.”
But in spite of this formidable economic outcome, still four in ten Peruvians are poor, and one of these four is extremely poor. On June 5th this population along with the middle class voted for Ollanta Humala. His triumph, more than a personal victory for him, is the confirmation that although bankers and investors can own markets and politicians, in the end it is clear that they cannot own the people.