Peru: Changing the Rules of the Game

By Iroel Sánchez on January 13, 2023

graphic: Al Mayadeen

“America for the Americans,” is the phrase with which Pedro Castillo closed his speech at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles in April 2022, which he attended without his traditional rural teacher’s hat. In the midst of the schism caused by the exclusion of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua from the United States, Castillo was one of those who chose to attend and not mention the issue that became the focus of the event.

“America for the Americans” is the central slogan of the Monroe Doctrine, on which the United States has based its hegemonic relationship with Latin America since the beginning of the 19th century, in practice “America for the Americans, of the North”. The fact that the then Peruvian president uttered such a phrase was attributed to his ignorance and that of his advisors, including his Foreign Ministry, and it is very likely that this was the case. However, the fact that in his speech there was not the slightest reference to the questionable policies of the United States towards the region, including the blockade of Cuba that several leaders present there condemned, nor to the exclusions imposed by the U.S. organizers, reveals a complacent or at least uncritical stance towards what the progressivism of the region considers “the America that is not ours”, as defined by José Martí.

Upon being elected, Castillo appointed the intellectual Héctor Béjar as Chancellor. Béjar, who lasted less than a month in office, was lynched by the media for some statements in which he accused the Peruvian Navy of initiating terrorism and of having been trained for it by the CIA. He failed to say state terrorism, like all the armies that collaborated with Washington during the Cold War in Latin America, but he was still defenestrated. With Bejar in office, Castillo would not have committed the folly he did in Los Angeles, but he preferred to accept the resignation of the leftist intellectual. The unusual thing is that after being dismissed and being already in prison, Pedro Castillo discovered the CIA and the United States -those of America for the Americans, of the North- and accused them of being behind the repression that the now President Dina Boluarte executes with Army and Police against those in the streets of Peru who are demanding elections and qualify Castillo’s former Vice President as a dictator.

Castillo was not clueless this time, too bad it is a little late. U.S. Ambassador to Peru, Lisa Kenna, who according to her official State Department biography worked 9 years at the Agency, met with the Peruvian defense minister shortly before the democratically elected “leftist” president was overthrown in a coup d’état and imprisoned without trial. Four days after the coup, the same ambassador met with Ms. Boluarte and proclaimed the U.S. government’s support for her.

Boluarte, Vice President elect of Castillo, like Michel Temer of Dilma Rouseff and Lenin Moreno of Rafael Correa, chose to be more faithful to the embassy than to the program chosen by the voters. A program that, by the way, has not had the slightest chance to be implemented, because, between media attacks and congressional sabotage, Castillo was not allowed to govern. And the latter, instead of mobilizing the people to pressure in the streets for the Constituent Assembly and the measures of social justice he promised, devoted himself to a confrontation with the Congress lost in advance, giving it, with his last bureaucratic and unipersonal effort, the pretext to declare it anti-democratic, discredit it and take it to prison. Nobody has asked Boluarte about the program of changes for which she was voted together with Castillo, including a Constituent Assembly that Peruvians are also demanding in their protests these days.

But there the people are, putting their skins to the bullets in the streets for a President who was not up to his task. Will this struggle result in the end of the oligarchic control over the politics and resources of Peru? Hopefully, but there does not seem to be an organized political force capable of doing so and only a radical change in the rules of the game could allow it.

Trying to change something out of concern for not bothering those who control the media, and those who from the North have been removing and putting governments in many Latin American countries for more than a century, always ends in the same place: defeat.

Fernando Martínez Heredia, a Cuban thinker whom Pedro Castillo surely does not know but Héctor Bejar most probably does, wrote in his last text, dedicated to Fidel Castro: “Capitalism hoists its discredited democracy, corrupt and directly controlled by oligarchies, and demands from timid rulers and respectful opponents to abide by its rules as articles of faith, an attitude that would be suicidal, because those rules are made to preserve the system of capitalist domination.” Martinez Heredia died without knowing of the existence of Pedro Castillo but the latter perhaps could have done with knowing Fernando.

Source: Al Mayadeen, translation Resumen Latinoamericano