1 Year 2016. Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a candidate of the liberal-developmentalist orthodoxy, wins the presidential elections against Keiko Fujimori with the support of the left wing in the second round. But the Peruvian electoral system has its particularities. In the first round, parliamentary groups are defined. And in it Fujimorism had won in a landslide 73 out of 130 deputies. Kuczynski only got 18.
2 The issue at stake in those elections was whether the political apparatus would reflect in one way or another the end of a historical period: that of Fujimorism. During the 1990s, Fujimorism had laid the foundations for the globalist variant of the exporting model of the semicolonial countries. The idea was that industrialization, which could never be promoted by the domestic market -supported by the state with revenues from the export sector-, would be sustained by a global market that was opening up.
The paradox is that the model began to give results in terms of GDP per capita as soon as Alberto Fujimori’s authoritarian regime collapsed. And the expected foreign investment did not take off until 2008, when Fujimorism had already been out of power for years, Toledo had signed the free trade agreement with the United States and Alan García had returned to the presidency.
The reason why Fujimorism always maintained a solid social and electoral base –in 2006 Keiko Fujimori was the most voted candidate for congress in the country – was not the economic results, but the loyalty of a sector of the petty bourgeoisie, the famous cholo-bourgeoisie. This urban petty bourgeoisie recognized in the permanent state of exception that had been the years of Alberto Fujimori’s presidency the origin of its social rise and its new weight in the state and national capital. The consolidation of fujimorism in the 10’s as the head of the opposition was the political translation of an economic power in which globalization had allowed it to establish its own international economic alliances – looking towards Asia – and gain weight in the state bureaucracy.
3 But 2016 is one of those pivotal years. Britain votes for Brexit, Trump looks likely to win the U.S. presidential election. Everything announces that globalization and with it the model of neocolonial neoliberalism is taking its last breaths. The Peruvian bourgeoisie wants to take advantage of it to the end, to maintain the flow of foreign investment at all costs, and at the same time to stabilize its political apparatus, which has been dysfunctional for decades and yet is fundamental to being able to face the foreseeable economic crisis with a minimum of stability. Weren’t the polls already saying in Bolivia that Morales and Linera’s MAS was losing the support of the cholo-bourgeoisie? Why shouldn’t Fujimorism, involved in all kinds of corruption scandals, suffer the same fate?
4 The problem was that corruption, although already intrinsic to state capitalism, in semi-colonial countries it is a central part of the connection between imperialist capitals, local bourgeoisies and the political system… meaning that in a conflict between factions of the ruling class with their respective party reflexes, corruption scandals become heavy ammunition. Especially in Peru, where the political apparatus does not have tools similar to those of the Spanish motion of censorship but rather those of the American impeachment. That is, where the primary way to remove a sitting president is to impeach him.
And so, the outbreak of the Odebrecht case – originally a battle within Brazilian power, fueled by the tensions between competing imperialist interests – becomes dismissal and prison of Kuczynski, suicide of Alan García, pretrial arrest of Ollanta Humala and prison for Keiko Fujimori. All of this took place in the context of the open war between President Vizcarra and the Fujimori parliament, which reached its peak a year ago.
Once the process and the cycle of global accumulation of which it is in debt has been completed, the political cycle became exhausted… although not without resistance. We saw it this week when, faced with the permanent blockade of Fujimorism, President Vizcarra called for elections in the expectation of the practical disappearance of the Fujimorist party. Parliament responded by electing an alternative president and creating a serious institutional crisis. However, the positioning of the Armed Forces and the police -historically the first bastion of the mestizo factions of the national bourgeoisie- led to a quick end to the rebellion and a reinforcement of Vizcarra and what he represents: the normalization and definitive fusion of the power bloc.“Outbreak of the crisis, proliferation of revolts“, 19/10/2019
Vizcarra’s move was to call elections in order to renew the congress with new rules previously approved in a referendum. The bet: to renew and stabilize at once the political system with an institutional coup d’état as much within the constitutional rules as possible. In any case, it also failed. He was left without his own seat in Congress, weak alliances and a Constitutional Court with an expired mandate pending election by the new parliament.
5 And in the midst of that Covid arrived. The epidemic evidenced the historical incompetence of the Peruvian state and accelerated its internal contradictions. 2020, which was to be the year of the bicentennial of independence, showed the extent to which Peruvian capital and the state were still dependent and unable to maintain a minimal cohesion even during an epidemic.
The pandemic -and the postponement of the general elections from January to April- could only restart the cycle of political crisis and parliamentary trials. A minor case, an audio recording of Vizcarra rigging the hiring of an artist by the Ministry of Culture, served as an excuse for a new Peruvian-style impeachment… which the president survived. But new revelations -those of bribes for developers- from when he was governor of Moquegua in 2013-14, led to a new trial that finally dismissed him for repeatedly lying to Congress.
The rest is in all the newspapers around the world this week. The congress elects as new president the president of the chamber, protests follow one another, two students are killed by shooting in them, the new president resigns under pressure… and the election of an alternative government is blocked by Fujimorism in congress.
6 As a summary, the incompetence of the Peruvian ruling classes to reorder their political apparatus and consolidate a group of power by banishing the ghosts of Fujimoriism, something that the development of the economic crisis can only aggravate, is evident. But there is an extra and not unimportant element.
In the last three years, in the context of the presidencies of Bolsonaro and Trump, the imperialist battle in Venezuela and the Caribbean in the first instance, but in reality in all of South America has increased in gravity and mutated in form. In its current phase, rather than as a confrontation between blocs of countries, as Piñera and Bolsonaro tried to do when they founded Pro-Sur, it takes the form of crossborder support between forces of different signs in different countries and from some countries to protest movements or parties of another.
The result is a continually and abruptly reshaped chessboard in which each political change in a country affects the equilibria of the others. The return of MAS to power in Bolivia or yesterday, the defeat of Bolsonaro’s allies in the Brazilian municipalities, are read in a continental way, the same as the Chilean referendum or the Colombian protests. It could not be otherwise in Peru, for which Brazil has been betting, since the time of Lula, on as its natural exit to the Pacific, and towards which the Puebla Group has been pinpointing for a long time as a key link for a new continental political hegemony.
7 What about the workers? their struggles are made invisible, they are massacred by the pandemic, shamelessly repressed in each strike, hungry due every government that has ruled Peru, they suffer more than ever from the absence of a political expression of their own and from the iron grip of the unions, which are well integrated into the state. However, few are dragged into the factional dispute by the left-wing groups that, as can be seen these days, resort to the more pliable students as cannon fodder.
Because the fact is that the combativeness of the workers during these months of pandemic has not gone down. From the miners of Espinar to medical doctors via street sweepers, the second half of the year, in the midst of the pandemic, has shown a class fighting for universal needs in each of its struggles, even when fighting under the worst conditions. Only in this class will the current historical situation find a way out.