PERU AND THE PHILIPPINES, SOME SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES
April 02, 2006
Santa Rosa de Lima, the first Saint to be canonized in all of North
and South America is not only venerated by the Villahanons. There
are many other towns in the Philippines which venerate the Santa
Rosa as their Saint. Among the Villahanons, fiesta celebrations in
her honor are celebrated all over the world, especially in America
and even in Norway. The place of this Saint in the hearts of the
Villahanons is such that even that 8-kilometer provincial road which
is being repaired and cemented through the Internet and through
Tiklos or Bayanihan is starting to be called "Dalan ni Santa Rosa".
article by someone whom I refer to as the "Passionate and Eloquent
Adelbert Batica, the Frente Amplio Expert among all the Filipinos",
Addi forgot to discuss in more detail the revolutionary attempts of
two Marxist groups in Peru -- the Sendero Luminoso which was
inspired by Mao and the Tupac Amaru which was Russian and Cuban in
inspiration. Both are gone now. The leader of the Sendero Luminoso,
Abimael Guzman, was captured. He was placed in a cage and was
exhibited to the world by his captors. The sad thing: it was he
himself who blurted the names of his comrades to his captors.
But it is a
tribute to the immortality of pro-people, progressive ideas that the
dreams that the Sendero Luminoso and the Tupac Amaru have been
fighting for are taking roots all over again. This time, the
leading light of this Movement for a Better Peru was a former
official of the Peruvian Military, Col. Ollanta Humala.]
As all of us
face more questions as to which way the Philippines is headed in the
next few years, perhaps it's worthwhile taking a breather and
looking at the experiences of another country to see if there are
lessons to be learned. That country is Peru, one I'm familiar with
simply because I lived and worked there for a year, and have
continued to maintain my connections with the country in spite of
the time that has passed and my distance from it. My most recent
visit to Peru was in May, 2004 - after a 25-year absence.
similarities between Peru and the Philippines - both are former
Spanish colonies and are predominantly Roman Catholic. (Caveat:
Although Roman Catholic, divorce is legal in Peru, and the Catholic
bishops generally stay out of politics.) Both countries have
experienced periods of instability (coups, insurgencies,
authoritarian rule). Also, both countries have experimented with
neoliberal trade policies in hopes of achieving larger scale
economic progress, only to find themselves worse off than before.
In 2000, both countries were embroiled in a heated (and oftentimes
chaotic) presidential impeachment process. In November, 2000 Pres.
Alberto Fujimori was successfully impeached by the Peruvian Congress
while he was on a visit to Japan; he was replaced by a transition
government that oversaw the elections of 2001 which saw the rise to
the presidency of a Stanford-educated economist (and former World
Bank executive), Alejandro Toledo. In January, 2001, Pres. Joseph
Estrada was unseated by People Power II, which also ushered in the
presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
administration was plagued by rampant corruption, participated in by
his family and cronies but most especially, by his National Security
Adviser who was caught on videotape attempting to bribe some members
of congress who were sponsoring an impeachment resolution. The
impeachment proceeding was in danger of being stalled in Congress,
but for a non-violent uprising led by the Humala brothers - Army
Col. Ollanta, and his younger brother, Maj. Antauro. The two,
together with some 300 military and civilian followers took over a
police headquarters and the offices of Southern Peru Mining Company
in the Andean province of Ayacucho, Peru's poorest region. That
uprising speeded up the impeachment process, and Fujimori had to
seek political asylum in Japan.
government was also brought down by charges of massive corruption,
but unlike in Peru, the impeachment process was stalled in the
Senate which, in turn, led to the walkout of the prosecutors and
snowballed into mass protests, culminating with Erap's exit from
Both Peru and
the Philippines, then, saw the rise to power of pro-free trade and
pro-WTO presidents. The two countries are also battling corruption
and increasing poverty. But there's a difference: while thousands
of Filipinos are reported to be leaving the Philippines everyday to
seek greener pastures abroad, most Peruvians have chosen to stay put
and tough things out. As far as poverty rates, 50% of Peruvians (at
least according to the CIA World FactBook) are said to live below
the poverty level, in a country with a total population of about 36
million. Note that Peru has six times more land area than the
Philippines. According to the CIA World FactBook, 40% of the
Philippine population live below the poverty level, in a country
with a population of about 87 million people and counting. Suffice
it to say that there are more poor people in Peru than in the
Philippines. At the same time, if we look at the number of
Filipinos exiting the country to seek better opportunities abroad,
it would seem that the Philippines is in a more desperate situation.
There is overt
restiveness within the military in the Philippines, whereas in Peru,
the restiveness is not apparent. The Philippines had a hotly
contested presidential election in 2004 that was characterized by
massive fraud, and charges of election fraud has continued to plague
GMA. Peru's presidential elections is only 10 days away, to be held
on April 9 (Bataan Day). Peru's constitution provides for a 5-year
presidential term with no reelection. Alejandro Toledo was elected
in 2001, and his term is due to expire this summer.
difference in Peru that's not present in the Philippines is the
meteoric rise of now retired Army Col. Ollanta Humala, a leftwing
nationalist and son of political activists (his father is a lawyer
and ex-communist, his mother is part of an ultra-nationalist
indigenous movement also known as "etnocacerismo", founded in the
19th century by Gen. Andres Avelino Caceres, who was a strong
supporter of indio rights and a Peru for indios.) Col. Humala
became an overnight sensation after his failed rebellion in 2000 for
which he served a jail term, until he was amnestied by the
transitional president in 2001.
With only 10
days to go before the presidential elections, Ollanta leads most
opinion polls with a rating of 34.5%, ahead of second-placer Lourdes
Flores who scores 27.7%. Flores belongs to the conservative party,
Union Nacional Odriista (founded in the 1950's by Gen. Manuel Odria,
who ruled Peru after unseating a civilian president). Flores is a
free market advocate. In third place is former president Alan
Garcia, who registers a rating of 20.6%. Garcia is a Social
Democrat who belongs to the APRA (American Popular Revolutionary
Alliance) and who served as president from 1985-90. APRA started
out as a leftwing and Trotskyist-leaning party in the 1930's, but
turned right in the 1960's and entered into an alliance with Union
Nacional Odriista. Since the 1980's, APRA has taken centrist
positions. If no candidate achieves 50% of the votes cast, a runoff
balloting is conducted a month later.
belongs to the Partido Nacionalista Peruano, which is in a coalition
with an older party - Union Por el Peru. He is a Peruvian Military
Academy graduate and career officer who distinguished himself in the
1980's and '90s for his no-nonsense military campaign against
Sendero Luminoso. Humala is representative of a different mold of
soldier, one who is strongly nationalistic, pro-poor and
pro-agrarian reform. This "tendencia" or school of thought is best
represented by Gen. Juan Velasco Alvarado, a leftwing general who
came to power through a coup and undertook massive social reforms
between 1968 and 1974. Western experts often refer to these Latin
American soldier-social activists as "Peruvianists". Other military
organizations in Latin America, including that of Uruguay, have
their share of "Peruvianists" or soldiers who try to follow in the
footsteps of Gen. Velasco. Peruvian media see Col. Humala as
another soldier who has one foot in the door of the Casa de Gobierno
(Peru's presidential palace), but minus a coup.
From a recent
interview with Ollanta Humala conducted by the Spanish daily El Pais
conducted by correspondent Fernando Gualdoni during Ollanta Humala's
visit to Tacna in southern Peru, close to the border with Chile.
Addi's translation of the interview from Spanish into English)
El Pais: "Are
you a revolutionary, a populist or a failed coup-plotter?"
"I'm a nationalist. I'm a father and head of a family who wants to
give the succeeding generations a country with more opportunities."
OH: "A State
that is morally solid and a model of development, with productive
sectors and strong national industries."
EP: "Are you
an 'etnocacerista' (ultranationalist, "Peru for the indios")?
not. No other Humala is involved in my project. The ideas of my
brothers Ulises and Antauro have nothing to do with me. It's one of
the reasons why I sometimes feel so alienated from my brothers and
my parents because of the racist content of their opinions."
EP: "Why do
you believe you are qualified to be president, when you have only
been in politics for a year?"
OH: "I'm new
to politics, but I believe that's better than being one of these
wretched ones who govern us. I'm not going to entrust five more
years of my life (to them), so I'm taking the reins."
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez your model?"
OH: "I accept
experiences, not models. I would like to learn more about
Venezuela's plan to eradicate illiteracy. I find Bolivia's process
of nationalizing hydrocarbons interesting. Peru's and Latin
America's great historical error has been to believe that an
economic model can be imported and applied to different realities."
your campaign receive funding from Venezuela?"
OH: "No. You
see it. Here, each one pays for his hotel and food expenses, and
the cars, the little that we have, are contributed by volunteers.
All of this (Venezuelan funding) is invented by the other
candidates, because it really pains them, in spite of their having
the money, that I'm the one leading the surveys.
EP: "What do
you think of Bush?"
simply worried that the government of a country from which we can
learn so much, and one that prides itself in being the guardian of
the world's democratic values, has now skirted international law and
has invaded a country like Iraq, and now faces the bloody
consequences of this (invasion).
would nationalism affect foreign businesses?"
nationalize is to put a resource at the service of the people, not a
business. It does not happen through expropriation or statization
(state control), but through a larger state participation in the
P.S. I have a
copy of the Plataforma de Gobierno of the Partido Nacionalista
Peruano-Union Por el Peru Coalition, but have not been able to
translate it to English...yet. Perhaps I'd be more motivated to
translate the platform once Humala gets elected, then I'd have every
reason in the world to watch Peru even more closely. If the guy
does well, I'd be happy. If not, I wouldn't mind sending critical
comments to Spanish list serves and media outlets. - Addi