Sunday, July 21, 2013

La Primavera Chola

A couple of short topical posts coming up.

An interesting development in Peru in the last week is the widespread public disgust, and the protest action led by the young, educated middle classes, at the apparent collusion by parties in Parliament to appoint a series of party hacks to important public positions including the People's Defender (Defensoria del Pueblo), Constitutional Tribunal and Reserve Bank.

The appointments have been described as a repartija ("doling out).  The outgoing People's Defender expressed dismay at the perception that his office was being sold off and would thereby lose credibility and independence.

However, already the outcry and protests have caused President Ollanta Humala and other party leaders to express disappointment and dissatisfaction at Parliament's choices - despite the fact that they were all probably involved in stitching up the deal - and for many of the nominated individuals to indicate they will not accept their posts and suggest that a new nomination process be held.

 Protest action is of course extremely widespread in Peru; what is interesting about this movement is that it's not directly tied to resource or labour conflicts and there are no clear material interests at stake,. Rather, it is driven by a general sense of dissatisfaction with the corruption and manipulation of the political class.

These protests have already been semi-jokingly described as "La Primavera Chola", (the only short translation would be "Andean Spring", but this link provides some, though incomplete and not very well translated, context); and they have been linked with the huge protests in Brazil during the Confederations Cup and the ongoing student-led demands in Chile for improved public education.

What has happened in Peru is of course on a much tinier scale than those movements, but it does have significance. Along with the narrow defeat of the recall movement against social democratic Lima mayor Susana VillarĂ¡n and the decision not to grant a pardon to imprisoned former president Alberto Fujimori, it may be seen as representing the 'green shoots' of a more democratic and accountable politics in Peru.Time will tell.