Peru general strike: land struggle or “conspiracy”?

As popular organizations called a one-day general strike July 9 to protest rising food and fuel prices, Peru’s President Alan GarcĂ­a accused leftist opponents of plotting to overthrow him. “What we are seeing is a conspiracy that is underway,” GarcĂ­a told reporters. Protesters filled the streets of cities across the country, halting traffic and shutting down rail access to Machu Picchu, Peru’s top tourist destination. “They want to attack the democratic system…and take power by force,” GarcĂ­a said.

Garcia said his leftist opponents resort to force because they failed to win power through the ballot box. “They have never won elections and aren’t smart enough to conduct campaigns,” he said. In a barely veiled swipe at sympathizers of Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, he added: “They say we should be an Andean, Aymaran, Bolivarian republic, and some want to do this by force.”

Meanwhile, protest organizers emphasized economic demands. “This is a government of the rich and of multinational corporations,” said Mario Huaman, leader of the General Confederation of Workers of Peru (CGTP), the country’s largest union. “The economic model must change.”

ElĂ­as Grijalva, leader of the rival Confederation of Workers of Peru (CTP), linked to Garcia’s ruling APRA, echoed the president that the protesters seek to impose “designs they have imported from Venezuela and Bolivia.” (Reuters, July 10; El Comercio, Lima, July 4)

While the CGTP called the strike, there was broad participation from campesinos, who emphasized their own demands over land rights and autonomy. In Cajamraca region, mobilizations were led by the local Rondas Campesinas, peasant militias established in the ’80s to defend their lands from the Shining Path insurgency. Among their demands were a halt to expansion of mining operations at Yanacocha, which they charge with contaminating local water sources. (AIDESEP, July 8)

Peasant land tenure was also at the heart of the rural mobilizations—especially Garcia’s Legal Decree 1015 of May 20, designed to speed the transfer of titled indigenous and campesino lands to private investors. DL 1015 modifies Peru’s agrarian statute, Law 26-505, which required a 66.6% vote of the members of the governing assemblies of indigenous and campesino communities to sell their lands. Under DL 1015, sale can be authorized by a simple majority vote. (AIDESEP, July 8; Minga Informativa de Movimientos Sociales, July 7; ALAI, May 6)

See our last posts on Peru, peak food and the mineral cartel in Latin America.

  1. Garcia strikes again
    Fool me once…
    Shame on you
    Fool me twice….
    Shame on me!

    Garcia’s presidential campaign was based on lies and he was able to scare the Peruvian citizens into voting for him even though it was common knowledge he had robbed the nation blind during his first presidency.

    Now Peruvians must pay again with a second looting of Peru’s natural resources. Even worse, rumors of American bases being built in there are getting stronger.

    I see an fugly ending to this conflict.

    Let’s hope Peruvians can remove this thief from the government with minor casualties.

  2. You mean Garcia has no magic wand?
    Anyone that has been following the events since the election of Garcia can clearly see that in this case, Mr Garcia is correct. Wacko little dictators like Chavez of Venezuela and Morales of Bolivia are doing all they can to cause chaos in Peru thru a network in Peru which tries to pass as outreach programs… cheifly Casas Alba. On the one hand they do charity work such as eye surgery etc… but then they also act as centers of leftist/communist propaganda and political training camps in which they spend most of their effort trying to generage discord amoungst the un-educated and simple minded people that are easy to sway with populist dogmatism.
    Leaders like Chavez and Morales at every turn say how evil it is for countries like the USA to meddle in their internal affairs and that it’s intorrlerable that any other country should try to influence events in their countries. But yet this is exactly what they are doing in Peru. There is no doubt that Chavez was both funneling money to Humala during the presidential race and also attempting to interfere with Peruvian politics. The same can be said now about Morales of Bolivia. He too is now promoting and supporting violent up-heaval in Peru. So these two wacko little dictators say how evil foreign influence is.. UNLESS it is they that are doing it in other countries like Peru??? Is this not the ultimate of hypocracy?
    Chavez was furious when his puppet and new pet Ollanta Humala lost the last Peruvian election after all the money and meddling that Chavez had done in the Peruvian elections. And this is precisely now why both Chavez and his fellow wacko little dictator Evo Morales are so livid about Garcia and the increadible success Peru is seeing economically.
    While it is true that the bonanza has not yet reached in to the interior of the country on the level that everyone wants, it is also true that according to all credible economists and forcasters, that Peru is NOW starting to see results in reducing poverty, and furthermore they predict that poverty will continue to be reduced as the economic success of the country begins to provide greater opportunity to areas where previously there was little or no opportunity to advance or to rise above the poverty level. Just recently, the Garcia administration doubled the amount of money going to education and training programmes for the poor of Peru. Garcia in conjunction with Ministry Of Economy has created a new system which will be merit based on helping to spread the countries new wealth to the poorest areas of the country. This plan has received so much recognition and praise from other countries of the world that several members of APEC has suggested that this same plan could be implemented in other countries!
    So in 2 years was Garcia supposed to have completely fixed all of Peru’s problems? Which country in the world has been able to “elliminate poverty” in a decade after having povery levels of 50%??? But yet we are going to crucify the Garcia administration because he has not been able to do it in 2 years? Is Mr Garcia perfect?? Of course he is not. But the people of Peru FREELY elected him. If someone would say now yes but look at his poll numbers. Well….. look at the poll numbers of EVERY recent Peruvian president! That is just what happens in Peru once you’ve been in office for a year or two. Look at Fujimori’s poll numbers when he left office. Look at Alejandro Toledo’s poll numbers at the end of his presidency. Ok and how about leftist/socialist president Juan Velasco Alvarado? Did he save Peru with his leftist policies such as nationalising oil fields, telecommunications, fishing, mining, turning them in to goverment run entities? As he consolidated power and then began not tolerating any descent, closing news papers, radio stations, jailing and harrasing political opponents, and finally expropriating ALL newspapers and exiling all publishers….
    And then there was agrarian “reform” (El Plan Inca) in which all of the high production agrarian farm lands were siezed from private land owners that had built up the production enough to make Peru a food exporter. The land was then given to poor peasants as a way of “de-colonization”. Shortly after instituting this sort of mis-guided policy the food producton of Peru came to a grinding halt. As it turns out, the peasants had no interest in growing food for export. Rather, the immense amounts of land they were given where mostly abandoned and allowed to go to seed, since the campesinos only cared to grow enough for their own consumption and that of their family. So in a matter of 1 year, Peru went from being a food exporter to a food importer. And then there were the trade restrictions. Import/export laws that were supposed to “protect” the dis-advantaged workers of Peru’s poor. This “anti-free trade” laws created a hugely inefficient system that stiffled growth, production, exporting, importing, ended up tearing down the rest of the already troubled Peruvian economy. All the other nationalized industries suffered the same fate… petroleum production plummented as the government controlled petroleum company lost all of its major talent, and couldn’t keep up with technological requirements to stay profitable and continue research and exploration. The nationalized fishing industry was so poorly run ended up over fishing and pratically destroying the Peruvian ocean eco-system, which took 10 years to somewhat recover and many beleive still hasn’t fully recovered to this day!
    The out of control spending on soviet arms by the leftist/socialist government which drained all of Peru’s reserves to he point that military spending reached 54% of Peru’s GDP! At this point, the leftist/communist government of Velasco destroyed every sector of peruvian economy and stability as well as standing in the international community causing critical shortages and eventual rationing, something rarely seen in ALL of Peru’s long history! Finally social un-rest reached a climax. Leftist/socialist rule had completely destroyed the country and the people couldn’t take it any more. Did the leftist/socialist policies and complete control of the country fix Peru’s problems? No. Did it eliminate or substancialy reduce povery in Peru? No. Did socialist/leftist policies achieve a better situation over all in Peru compared to Peru of today under neo-liberal policies? Again, NO.
    Ironically the only other time that Peru has gone thru this type of economic and social disaster, was under the presidency of another leftist/socialist……. that was the 1st presidency of Alan Garcia. Back then he was a staunch leftist/socialist with as little actual expirience as Chavez or Morales. By the time his leftist/socialist goverment came to an end, once more Peru was left in shambles. It took a full 10 years of neo-liberal policies under Fujimori and Toledo to get Peru back up on its feet again! But there is no way that any of those presidents could completely fix EVERYTHING in Peru after the devestation caused by previous leftest governments. Just as in the case of Chile, which began its neo-liberal reforms back in the early 80’s and is only NOW reaping the benefits, it takes time to generate enough capital in-flow and investment in to a country for it to be able to AFFORD to deal with the issues of poverty, under-development, malnourishment, and illiteracy effectively. Garcia is doing everything he possibly can with what he has available to continue expanding Peru’s economy and creating an enviroment of opportunity which in turn will generate enough revenue to the central government so that all of these issues can be tackled. And this perhaps is the main reason why people such as “little-dictator” Ollanta Humala is going all around the country tryin to generate discord and social unrest….. because he and others of his same political persuation know how much damage it will do to their political aspirations if the current economic system in Peru is to actually succeed and continue transforming the country and making a brighter future for tomorrow. They would rather destroy the current success and advancements that have been made, so long as it allows them to gain power.
    So it’s against this backdrop that Presidents like Garcia are battling. Even as Morales of Bolivia has kept up with his insults and accusations, Garcia has now reached out to Bolivia in a pact of mutual RESPECT, asking that counties like Bolivia and Venezuela stop meddling in Peru’s internal affairs, just as those 2 countries have demanded that others not meddle in thier own internal affairs. Garcia pointed out that even though Bolivia and Venezuela have very different types of governments that the current one in Peru, that doesn’t mean they should insult or try to destablelize eachother. And what was the result? Bolivian officials accepted this proposel and now wants to work with Peru in a more respectful enviroment. Score another win for Garcia.