Written by: Vaishnavi Peyyety, Red & Black Contributor
Group of protestors protesting political crisis. (Photo courtesy Vox)
For nearly twenty years, Peru’s political system has failed its citizens. As a result, Peruvians have taken to the streets, protesting inequality, inequity, and injustice. This democratic crisis is due to corruption that spans leadership and congress with many believing “democracy” no longer exists in the country given the deteriorating living conditions. Peruvians are fighting for a government with new beginnings where fair elections are held, and people’s voices are valued.
During the time that right-wing Alberto Fujimori ruled in the early 2000s, the Peruvian economy was at an all-time high. Strong foreign investments and exports lead to flourishing wealth. However, state intervention was limited and the lack of basic services including justice and education lead to dissatisfaction. Ultimately, this set off the downward spiral of Peruvian democracy.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the insufficiencies of this government, as Peru had no plan to counteract the detrimental economic impact of the viral outbreak. The United Nations reported that more than half of all Peruvians lacked access to food during the beginning of the pandemic. In a 2021 survey conducted by Vanderbilt University, only 21 percent of Peruvians stated they were satisfied with the country’s government. This startling number is the lowest of any Latin American or Caribbean country, excluding Haiti.
Additionally, a poll in 2022 found that 84 percent of Peruvians were dissatisfied with Congress due to corruption. Following the overthrowing of Pedro Castillo, former President of the Peruvian government who faced multiple corruption allegations, protests spanned the country involving violent battles with law enforcement. Several protests took place in the south of Peru, one of the poorest regions in the country and home to well-known archeological sites including Machu Picchu.
Protests in Peru in response to political crisis. Photo courtesy TRT World
Many are calling for current leader Dina Boluarte to resign, as the country’s political standing continues to deteriorate. Nevertheless, leadership including Boluarte has ignored pleas for another election. In response to protests, Boluarte has enacted a state emergency which is expected to last until mid-February. The Attorney General is currently investigating Boluarte; however, it is unclear how impactful this will be considering that even if Boluarte is replaced, the source of Peru’s political issues will persist.
Peruvians are continuing to fight for what they believe in, some traveling from rural areas to the capital, Lima, to join protests. What is Peru truly in need of? For one, social and economic equality is vital, as the cost-of-living crisis and corruption continue. A deep urban-rural divide between the elite living in Lima and poverty-stricken regions is continuing to tear communities apart.
Additionally, weak Presidents who continue to come in and out of the position likely face impeachment by Congress. After all, Boluarte is the sixth president in seven years: Alberto Fujimori was impeached and convicted of human rights violations. Alejandro Toledo faced extradition to Peru from the U.S. Alan Garcia committed suicide after facing arrest. Ollanta Humala was arrested in 2017. Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned in March 2018. Martin Vizcara was impeached in 2020. And Manuel Merino resigned in 2020. Peru’s so-called democracy is inadequately addressing citizens’ concerns, which sparks the question of whether they are operating as a dictatorship under the disguise of democracy.