Peru's presidential race: lessons for United States

Four agonizing days after Peru's June 5 presidential race, the final tally was at last announced, giving the center-right Pedro Pablo Kuczynski the narrowest of victories over the openly fascistic Keiko Fujimori. (Diario Uno, DW) The uninspiriing "PPK" is a neoliberal technocrat and veteran cabinet minister. As a World Bank economist he promoted mining and extractive industries in the developing world. He was made minister of Mines & Energy by president Fernando Belaunde in 1980, and went on to become finance minister and cabinet chief under Alejandro Toledo in 2000. Under Toledo, he continued the privatization policies initiated under the dictatorship of Alberto Fujimori. (Peru Reports) But his opponent Keiko is the now-imprisoned dictator's daughter—who intransigently defends her father's blood-drenched legacy. (As the race heated up, she did pledge not to repeat his "mistakes," a rather euphemistic term for massive human rights violations. She similarly pledged not to have him pardoned if she won—after having for years previously called for his pardon.) (TeleSur, Villager) In other words, she represented a return to fujimorismo—a mix of law-and-order populism and an aggressively pro-corporate economic program. Does this sound familiar?

This was seen as an emergency situation by the Peruvian left. Verónika Mendoza, the left-wing candidate who was bumped out of the race in the first round in April, issued a video message telling her supporters to vote for the odious pro-corporate conservative Kuczynski so as to keep openly fascistic Keiko Fujimori out of office—and to be prepared to build a vigorous opposition from PPK's first day on the job.

Contrast the suicidal "Bernie-or-Bust" dogma from the gringo left. I hope you are getting the analogy here. We Yankees are faced with a wannabe right-populist dictator in Donald "El Pendejo"—who has become a symbol for resurgent fascism throughout the Americas. It looks increasingly like the alternative is the odious pro-corporate Hillary Clinton. The left-populist Bernie Sanders is now being bumped out of the running (whether by means fair or foul). To his credit, he does seem to be inching around to drinking the bitter medicine of throwing his support behind Clinton—if only in the interest of defeating pendejo-fascism. But frighteningly many of his supporters refuse to let go of the potentially disastrous "or bust" position. 

Can you think of one critical difference that explains Verónika's more principled and serious attitude? We can. Peruvians have known fascism in living memory.

Verónika Mendoza on US presidential race

Verónika Mendoza spoke Sept. 7 at New York University's King Juan Carlos Center, at an event hosted by the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA). She discussed her vision for a "new new left" in Peru and Latin America committed to democracy and transparency, and pointed to the current crisis in Venezuela as illustrating the risks of relying on an extractivist economy. In the crush of admirers after her talk, this blogger managed to ask her about her thoughts on the presidential race here in the US. With a wry smile, she said (translated from Spanish), "I would like to see some better alternatives in your country!" When I pressed her, asking which of the actual candidates is less dangerous, she responded brusquely: "What kind of question is this? It is clear from all of his statements that this Trump represents the greater threat—to immigrants in your country, and to us in Peru too."