lo que es muy largo para el útero de verdad

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Peru's Looming Disaster

The revolt of Latin American voters against the political class began in Peru in 1990, with the election of an obscure agronomy professor named Alberto Fujimori. The anti-establishment mood has spread, leading to populist soldiers and a coca grower taking the presidencies of Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia. Now Peru may elect the most dangerous leader yet. Last month Ollanta Humala, a military man whose family advocates the shooting of gays, Jews and Chilean investors, came in first in presidential elections. Since Mr. Humala did not get 50 percent, there will be a runoff on May 28.

More bad news: the other candidate will be Alan García, a spectacularly irresponsible and corrupt president in the late 1980's who wrecked Peru's economy and presided over the commission of widespread war crimes. This sorry duo topped a field that included several excellent candidates.

The roots of the appalling choice facing Peruvians are evident. As in Venezuela, traditional politicians in Peru have failed to improve the lives of the majority, especially indigenous people. The current president, Alejandro Toledo, has presided over five years of peace, lowered corruption and sustained the strongest economic growth in Latin America. Yet his approval rating is in the single digits. Mr. Toledo squandered the opportunity seized by countries like Chile and Mexico to spread the benefits of growth through targeted education, health or rural development programs.

Both candidates would make things worse. Mr. Humala is no fan of democracy and wants to hold a constituent assembly to rewrite Peru's Constitution. He was an army captain in command of a military base during Peru's war with the Shining Path guerrillas. There is credible testimony from several families in his zone that men directly under his command tortured and killed peasants, and that he participated in terrorizing and ransacking the business of a storeowner who demanded payment from his soldiers. Many of his closest aides have ties to Vladimiro Montesinos, a jailed racketeer.

All this is widely known in Peru, yet a large chunk of voters are unbothered. There could be no clearer warning than this of the importance of economic development that includes the poor.

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