How the Sandinistas Grew Powerful

By Ronald J. Morgan

A 2000 political pact between Daniel Ortega and then President Arnoldo Aleman paved the way for impunity and back room deals. The pact made the Sandinistas and the Independent Liberal Party the dominant political forces in the country. 1,2

A 2011 Supreme Court decision allowing indefinite reelection and a 2014 constitutional reforms are being blamed for what is now evolving into an increasingly authoritarian one party dominant political system.

Election fraud was alleged in the 2008 municipal elections and 2011 presidential elections.The United States cut off funding from the New Millenium Account assistance fund to show its displeasure with the 2008 vote.

The constitutional reform of 2014, allows indefinite reelection, certain presidential decrees with the force of law and the removal of the 35% minimum vote requirement to be president. It also extends the right of military officers to run for political office

The 2016 election was thrown into a one-sided event by an Electoral Supreme Court decision last July. The court ruled to unseat the opposition congressman Eduardo Montealegre as head of the Independent Liberal Party and its ally the Sandinista Renovation Movement. The decision stemmed from its resolution of a dispute over the rightful leader of the Independent Liberal Party. The dispute had been raging for a while.3

The Court replaced Montealegre with Pedro Reyes. And when some Liberal Independent Party deputies refused to recognize Reyes the court ordered them removed from congress. Reyes was to be allowed to appoint replacements. Then in August, the court banned the Independent Liberal Party from running for president.

Another opposition party, the The National Coalition for Democracy, whose expected candidate was Luis Callejas, pulled out of the Nov. 6 vote calling the election a farce.

SOURCES:

1.Of politics and democracy in Nicaragua in the XXIst century http://archive.thedialogue.org/PublicationFiles/Politics%20and%20democracy%20in%20Nicaragua.pdf

2.Strange Bedfellows: The Aleman-Ortega Pact https://nacla.org/article/strange-bedfellows-aleman-ortega-pact

3.Nicaragua Electoral Authority Unseats Opposition Lawmakers http://www.apnewsarchive.com/2016/Nicaragua_electoral_authority_unseats_opposition_lawmakers/id-5c680c2b50d24116b19aebe514367072

 

 

 

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Nicaragua’s Controversial Election

By Ronald J. Morgan

Daniel Ortega has won a third consecutive re-election as President of Nicaragua. Ortega, who turns 71 this week, can point to some impressive accomplishments since returning to power through the ballot box in 2007.

But dissatisfaction with the shortcomings of the current election is causing increased polarization inside the country. The next five years are expected to include increased social protest and perhaps outside economic sanctions. After many years of relative calm Nicaragua is showing signs of  serious political crisis.

A Supreme Court decision in July, left the Nov. 6, voting without the principal opposition candidates of the Independent Liberal Party. The opposition has called the election a farce and announced plans not to accept the vote as legitimate.  The United States has issued a statement Nov. 7, expressing deep concern that the vote was marred. It also has criticized the lack of independent vote observers.

Since the elections back in 2007, Ortega’s Sandinista Party has gradually gained control of congress and the Supreme Court and most of the country’s other institutions. While economic progress has been above average in Nicaragua, democracy has been seen as slipping.

See: How the Sandinistas Grew Powerful

Few expect a return to the Cold War days of the 1980s when Washington sought to defeat the Sandinistas with  the Contra War leaving 20,000 dead.

But the win this November, drew criticism as an election similar to those staged by the Somoza Family which ruled Nicaragua from 1936 to 1979. Selection of Rosario Murillo as Vice President candidate and the presence of other Ortega family members in the government has also drawn criticism for creating the appearance of a family dynasty.

The lack of opposition participation has brought criticism from the Organization of American States and the United States. Right-wing congress members have initiated an attempt to impose restrictions on Nicaragua’s international loans. The bill, known as the NICA Act has passed the House of Representatives and awaits consideration by the Senate next year.

Following the criticism by the OAS, Ortega  agreed to 90 days of talks aimed at perhaps implementing some form of corrective political reforms. Nicaraguan business and opposition sectors are eager for Ortega to correct course. And without change, the country could easily lose its recent economic progress and become engulfed in a Venezuela type political polarization. The political crisis probably will not be over until the next presidential election in 2021.

The next five years are expected to be more difficult economically do to a drop off in Venezuela international assistance through the ALBA program, and lower prices for exports. The last nine years of Ortega rule produced substantial success. Ortega formed an alliance with the Nicaraguan business sector and embraced free trade, including the CAFTA Free Trade Agreement with the United States.

With the help of  $3.5 billion in Venezuela assistance the Sandinista government improved social conditions. For the past ten years Nicaragua has also experienced  lower criminal violence than its neighbors in Central America. The 2016 Nicaragua IMF Report found that poverty had fallen from 42.9% in 2009 to 29.9% in 2014.

Economic growth also was above average for Central America: 5.1% in 2012 4.5% 2013 4.7% 2014 4.0% 2015,  and 4.2% projected for 2016.

Foreign investment has been encouraged. And according to IndexMundi, has produced a steady inflow of capital in recent years: 2007: $381.7million, 2008: $627.3 million, 2009: $433.9 million, 2010: $489.9 million, 2011: $936.3 million, 2012: $767.7 million, 2013: $815.5 million, 2014: $883.5 million. Inflation has remained in single digits since 2008. Nevertheless, Nicaragua remains the second poorest country in Latin America after Haiti.

Under President Ortega relations with Russia and China have strengthened continuing his anti-U.S. imperialism world view. Russia is providing military assistance and equipment, including 50 battle tanks. A Russian satellite tracking base for use in the Russian GPS system may be established.

The biggest issue after the recent election is the plan by a Chinese investor to build a controversial $50 billion canal across Nicaragua which will compete with the Panama Canal and perhaps increase economic activity in Nicaragua substantially.

The project has been criticized as a possible boondoggle with negative environmental effects. And Nicaraguan peasant groups are opposed to giving up their land for the project. The 175 mile long canal project broke ground in December 2014. The Nicaraguan government granted the right to build the project to Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company. The company is headed by Beijing Developer Wang Jing.

Presidential Results from Wikipedia 2016 Nicaragua Presidential Elections.

Candidate Party Votes %
Daniel Ortega Sandinista National Liberation Front 1,803,944 72.50
Maximino Rodríguez Constitutionalist Liberal Party 373,230 15.00
Pedro Vallejos Independent Liberal Party 111,968 4.50
Saturnino Cerrato Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance 106,993 4.30
Erick Cabezas Conservative Party 57,299 2.30
Carlos Canales Alliance for the Republic 34,835 1.40
Invalid/blank votes 90,246
Total 2,578,515 100
Registered voters/turnout 68.20
Source: El Nuevo Diario (99.80% of votes counted)

SOURCES

CSE asigna a Ortega el 72.5% de los votos http://www.laprensa.com.ni/2016/11/07/politica/2130836-cse-asigna-a-ortega-el-71-3-de-los-votos

Nicaragua’s Elections Marked by Apathy and Mistrust http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/11/nicaraguas-elections-marked-by-apathy-and-mistrust/

In Nicaragua, a Blatantly Rigged Election http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/05/opinion/in-nicaragua-a-blatantly-rigged-election.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

Encuesta M&R favorece a Ortega con 69,8% y CID-Gallup con el 52% http://www.lajornadanet.com/index.php/2016/11/03/encuesta-mr-favorece-a-ortega-con-698-y-cid-gallup-con-el-52/#.WB0d49LhCM9

Nicaragua: El golpe “blando” en marcha http://www.cubadebate.cu/opinion/2016/11/03/nicaragua-el-golpe-blando-en-marcha/#.WB0eVdLhCM9

 IMF Country Report on Nicaragua http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2016/cr1634.pdf

World Bank Nicaragua  Overview http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/nicaragua/overview

Nicaragua electoral authority unseats opposition lawmakers http://www.apnewsarchive.com/2016/Nicaragua_electoral_authority_unseats_opposition_lawmakers/id-5c680c2b50d24116b19aebe514367072

Political Crisis Looms in Nicaragua in Run-Up to Elections http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/political-crisis-looms-in-nicaragua-in-run-up-to-elections

Lo que establece el “Nica Act” http://confidencial.com.ni/lo-establece-nica-act/

Ortega entre la OEA, Clinton y “Nica Act” http://confidencial.com.ni/ortega-la-oea-clinton-nica-act/

Opinion: Russian Tank Deal With Nicaragua ‘Back to the Future’ Moment for U.S.https://news.usni.org/2016/05/09/opinion-russian-tank-deal-with-nicaragua-back-to-the-future-moment-for-u-s

Nicaragua’s Grand Canal http://www.cfr.org/infrastructure/nicaraguas-grand-canal/p36468

7 razones de expertos para llamar farsa las elecciones en Nicaragua http://www.laprensa.com.ni/2016/08/19/politica/2086096-farsa-electoral-elecciones-en-nicaragua

Sin sorpresa, Ortega es reelegido en cuestionados comicios en Nicaragua http://www.elconfidencial.com/ultima-hora-en-vivo/2016-11-07/sin-sorpresa-ortega-es-reelegido-en-cuestionados-comicios-en-nicaragua_1058261/

Líderes opositores Nicaragua no reconocerán resultados de “farsa electoral” http://www.elconfidencial.com/ultima-hora-en-vivo/2016-11-07/lideres-opositores-nicaragua-no-reconoceran-resultados-de-farsa-electoral_1058227/

El “Nica Act”. ¿Y ahora qué hacemos? http://www.laprensa.com.ni/2016/11/07/columna-del-dia/2129292-el-nica-act-y-ahora-que-hacemos

 Nicaraguan Voters Are Getting Ready to Follow Daniel Ortega’s Script http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/11/05/nicarguan-voters-are-getting-ready-to-follow-daniel-ortegas-script-nicaragua/

 

 

 

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Colombia Peace Accord: Can it be fixed after stunning No vote?

By Ronald J. Morgan

Colombia’s Ultra-Rightists are back  center stage in the nation’s political arena.

In a surprising, unexpected, change of fate, Colombians voted down a complex peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).  The vote, Sunday, Oct. 2, was in sharp contradiction to numerous opinion polls released in the weeks before the plebiscite. The victory revives the right wing Centro Democratico party from the defeat it suffered in the presidential elections of 2014, and the regional elections of 2015.

After more than four years of negotiations President Juan Manuel Santos and the members of the FARC Command are left with a difficult path forward toward peace. Santos has ordered a bilateral cease fire kept in place while a series of consultations are held with the promoters of the No vote. United Nations security forces are also staying in place to prevent violence.

Members of Colombia’s hard right, led by former President Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010) achieved a rejection of the peace treaty signed in Cartagena, Sept. 26, with 6,419, 759 votes against the accord or 50.23%. The yes votes totalled 6,359, 643, some 49.76%. The vote came during rainy weather in some areas. Absenteeism totalled a whopping 62.57% which means that 20 million voters sat home during the crucial vote. Also hurting the Si or Yes vote were large numbers of null and unmarked votes –86,243 unmarked votes and 170,946 null votes. No charges of fraud were raised, however. 1,2,3,4

See: Colombia Update: Regional Elections Bolster Rightwing Power

Humberto de la Calle. the chief negotiator of the peace negotiations and a leader of the Si campaign, tendered his resignation. But the president has since asked him to stay on to  negotiate a new modified agreement. Gina Parody, secretary of education, also resigned after working in the SI movement. Former President Cesar Gaviria (1990-1994), who was also important in leading the SI movement, has refrained from commenting on the debacle. 5

The Oct. 2, vote was a shock.  The atmosphere of impending peace is now one of uncertainty and concern about right wing control over political reforms. The central question is whether the peace accord can be fixed and whether the FARC will be willing to make further concessions. The surprise of the defeat is still reverberating throughout the nation.

Supporters of the NO also seemed taken by surprise by the victory, and quickly stressed that they were still in favor of achieving peace, but want the peace accord changed. President Juan Manuel Santos moved to calm the political waters by quickly putting into place a dialogue with the leaders of the NO campaign. This new negotiation with the right is providing the basis for some rational effort to resolve the impasse over the peace accord. But it has also been criticized by the Left as an accommodation among political elites.6

The upset victory by the No forces brought former President Alvaro Uribe face to face with Santos for the first time in six years. Another critic of the peace process, former President Andres Pastrana (1998-2000) also met with the president to discuss how NO objections may be worked into a revised accord.

See: Colombian Political Forces Reset After Santos Win

Rounding out the group of ultra-right leaders were: Martha Lucia Ramirez, Ivan Duque, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, former Presidential Candidate Óscar Iván Zuluaga and former Attorney General Alejandro Ordóñez.  On Wednesday, a group of NO Commissions were working to draw up a list of objections and suggested modifications to the accord. These suggestions will be presented to the government in the coming week. The government will then negotiate again with the FARC in Havana. The revised peace accord, if agreed to, could then be submitted to a second plebiscite.

In the midst of the new negotiations with Colombia’s peace opponents Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace prize for his negotiation efforts. The prize committee did not award the prize to the FARC, however, adding further insult to the Leftist Insurgency’s effort.

Later in the week a newspaper interview brought another surprise to the mounting tensions. The NO Victory took a potential stumble when the NO campaign was described in a way that it seemed that it tried to incite the electorate to anger with arguments that were less than accurate.  Juan Carlos Velez Uribe, manager of the Centro Democratico NO Campaign explained in an interview with the Bogota Newspaper La Republica the campaign strategy and identified the major NO campaign supporters.  This explanation quickly touched off a denial by Alvaro Uribe, head of the Centro Democratico and sharp criticism from the Left.7,8

Legal actions charging illegal campaign techniques also were brought before the National Prosecutors Office and the Supreme Court. Velez Uribe resigned his post at Centro Democratico and retracted what he said in the interview. Whether the campaign tactics could be considered illegal campaign activities adds further uncertainty to the effort to reconcile the accord

The FARC has taken a conciliatory posture since the loss on Oct. 2. Comandante Timoleon Jimenez has pointed out that Uribe was invited to talk directly to the FARC about his concerns on two occasions. He also stressed that the FARC plans to defend what was agreed to in the peace accord. But he opened the possibility of some change through a national political pact which would solidify the peace. He also raised the question of whether the peace accord is legally done in by the plebiscite since it was signed by the government and registered as a special accord in Bern, Switzerland.

The FARC has called for national mobilizations to support the gains won during the peace negotiations. Marches to support the peace are proceeding with the aim of showing grass-roots support by the left for the current peace accord. 9,10

The No vote does do in all recently passed legislation to fast track the accord into the Constitution. President Santos has described the government’s approach to fixing the peace accord as consisting of a series of “adjustments” to what has been agreed to. It is thought a second plebiscite could be held to approve the modifications.

A week after the Oct 2 vote Uribe posted on his twitter a series of demands that he says will be made in the coming negotiations with the government. 11

Among the demands are:

1. Punishment of high ranking persons accused of serious crimes with five or eight years of incarceration even though it may be at an agricultural farm or other work facility. Those found guilty of serious crimes should not be eligible for election to elective office.

2. Narcotics crimes are to be considered normal crimes ineligible for special treatment.

3. Transitional justice to be put under the control of a special Supreme Court body or the current system of  Ley de Justicia, Paz y Reparación to be applied..

4. Amnesty for rank and file guerrillas and special relief for military and police accused of crimes. Guerrillas are to receive payment for eradicating drug crops.

5. Manual eradication should be a priority with a possibility of aerial spraying if necessary.

6. Special protection for land owners so they won’t be affected by the peace agreement.

7.  Financing of the peace agreement should be adjusted to the fiscal capabilities of the state.

8. Agreement with the FARC should not limit the ability of mayors and governors to attend to the needs of citizens equally.

9. Calls for a limitation on consultations with communities through government decrees to avoid interference with government activities.Consultations are to be public.

SOURCES:

1. Estos son los principales actores que ganan con el ‘no’ del plebiscito http://www.eltiempo.com/politica/proceso-de-paz/quien-gano-el-plebiscito-en-colombia/16716647?_

2.La debacle de las encuestadoras http://www.semana.com/nacion/articulo/plebiscito-por-la-paz-encuestadoras-se-equivocaron-con-resultados/496543

3.Colombia dijo “No” al acuerdo de paz con las Farc http://www.elespectador.com/noticias/paz/colombia-dijo-no-al-acuerdo-de-paz-farc-articulo-658143

4.¿Por qué perdió el Sí? Oct. 2, 2016 http://www.semana.com/nacion/articulo/plebiscito-para-la-paz-por-que-perdio-el-si/496519

5. De la Calle pone su cargo a disposición del presidente Oct. 3, 2016 http://www.semana.com/nacion/articulo/humberto-de-la-calle-renuncia-a-su-cargo-como-negociador/496651

5a. Santos rechaza renuncia a De la Calle y lo pone a negociar con el uribismo http://www.semana.com/nacion/articulo/gana-el-no-en-el-plebiscito-designacion-de-voceros-del-centro-democratico/496725

6. Organizaciones sociales rechazan negociación entre santismo y uribismo Oct. 4, 2016 http://colombia2020.elespectador.com/pais/organizaciones-sociales-rechazan-negociacion-entre-santismo-y-uribismo

7. El No ha sido la campaña más barata y más efectiva de la historia, Oct. 5, 2016 http://www.larepublica.co/el-no-ha-sido-la-campa%C3%B1a-m%C3%A1s-barata-y-m%C3%A1s-efectiva-de-la-historia_427891

8. Denuncian al senador Álvaro Uribe por estrategia del No en el plebiscito http://www.elespectador.com/noticias/judicial/denuncian-al-senador-alvaro-uribe-estrategia-del-no-el-articulo-659100

9. Renegociar el acuerdo de paz: ¿Es posible? Oct. 3, 2016 http://www.semana.com/nacion/articulo/plebiscito-para-la-paz-sera-o-no-posible-renegociar-los-acuerdos/496759

10. Human Rights Watch expone soluciones para puntos de discordia en acuerdo final de paz, Oct. 7, 2016, http://www.elespectador.com/noticias/politica/human-rights-watch-expone-soluciones-puntos-de-discordi-articulo-659083

11. Votamos No, seguimos por la paz. Urgencia y Paciencia. Algunas proposiciones https://twishort.com/8ijlc

 

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Peace Will Bring a Decade of Reforms to Colombia

By Ronald J. Morgan

Monday evening, September 26, Colombia ended 52 years of conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. The ceremony in Cartagena begins a process of transformation in Colombia. This article outlines the coming demobilization and the implementation of the peace agreement. It owes a lot to a summary published recently in Revista Semana: “Detalle sobre Acuerdo para terminar la guerra.” And, it is recommended reading.

Leader of the FARC, Timoleon Jimenez, whose real name is Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, told the gathering in Cartagena: “No one should doubt that we are moving toward a policy without arms. We are preparing to disarm our minds and hearts…In the future, the key will be the implementation of the accords, in such a manner that what is written on paper takes life in reality. And for this to be possible, in addition to the international verification, the Colombian people must become the principal guarantors  that what was agreed to materializes. Jimenez stressed: “We are going to comply and we hope the government complies.”

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos pledged to support the FARC in their efforts to become a peaceful political force within the country. “Mr. Rodrigo Londoño and members of the FARC: Today when you under take your road of return to society, when you begin you transformation  to convert yourselves into a political movement without arms, following the rules of justice, truth and reparation contained in the agreement — I, as Chief of State of the country that we love, welcome you to democracy.

“To change the bullets for votes, the arms for ideas, is a brave decision and the more intelligent decision that any subversive group can take. And at a good time you understood the call of history. We are not nor will we ever be in agreement with the political or economic model that should be followed by our country, but as I said in Havana, I will defend with all my determination your right to express your ideas within the democratic regime because that is the essence of freedom within a state of law.”  1, 2,

The complex peace accord signed with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia is expected to create a peace reform period that will last the coming decade. The signing of the peace accord, Sept. 26, sets the stage for an Oct 2, plebiscite which will vote the complicated pact up or down.3, 4

The vote must pass a threshold of 4.5 million votes to pass. While the arrival of peace is coming in an atmosphere of intense political polarization, the agreement is expected to pass. 5, 6, 7

Once approved, the pact will be put before congress to be converted into a set of laws. This process is to be completed in 12 months. The FARC will have six nonvoting observer seats — three in the Chamber of Representatives and three in the Senate. The peace accord will obtain its legal status through a constitutional reform known as the Acto Legislativo para la Paz. The law was passed in June and provides an expedited approach to converting the peace agreement into a series of laws. A fast track approach to the legislation will include reduced debates and no changes in the laws without presidential approval.

The President will also have the power to emit decrees with the force of law over 180 days in order to make the peace accord work. The peace agreement will rank as part of the constitution. The Constitutional Court will hear all challenges to peace treaty related laws. One challenge has been made to the Acto Legislativo para la Paz so far.

As part of the legislative implementation the government must include an investment plan for the hardest hit of the region’s conflict zones. 8, 9, 10

After four years of negotiation, the peace accord leaves Colombia with a road map of reforms in the rural development, political reform, justice and victims compensation  and illicit drug areas. The reforms, if implemented successfully, will have a transforming effect on rural areas of Colombia and open up the political process to new forces. But overall the agreement will not threaten the existing economic structure. In fact, President Juan Manuel Santos has predicted a strong peace period economic expansion.

See: Santos Rolls Out Colombian “Third Way” And More Neoliberalism

A main concern accompanying the arrival of peace is the overall security situation for Left supporters and politicians. In the weeks running up to the peace accord signing 13 social activists were murdered. 11, 12

After approval of the plebiscite (If not approved the peace accord is stopped without a clear indication of what will happen next) the FARC forces will begin a six month demobilization process. They will move out of base camps into 22 demobilization areas. They will disarm in stages with some arms being surrendered every 30-days during the 180 day period.

After leaving the demobilization camps guerrillas will have the right to a number of government benefits. The agency, Economias Solidarias de Comun, Ecomin, will administer the benefits. Each member of the FARC will receive 8 million pesos (U.S. 2,741) to under take an economic project approved by Ecomin.

FARC members will also receive two years of payments equivalent to 90% of the minimum wage. If a FARC member decides to study he can receive up to eight years of incentives.

The peace agreement attempts to attack the causes of the 52 year-old conflict with a Rural Development Reform and a major increase in political inclusion.

The Integral Rural Reform in a nutshell includes the following:

Distribution of 3 million hectares (7.41 million acres) of land to rural peasants. Colombia will also formalize the titles to 7 million hectares (17.29 million acres) of land and conduct a land census to determine who owns what land in rural areas. Land for the redistribution is expected to come from vacant lands, land seized as part of criminal prosecutions and expropriation with compensation. Gifts of land may also be encouraged.

To bring rural Colombia out of the isolation and poverty of the conflict years, Colombia will implement 16 development programs in hard hit areas with high poverty. To combat hunger in the rural areas a new food security program will be put in place. Colombia will also pass a series of tax incentives to encourage private investment in rural areas.

See: Colombia Peace Negotiations Turn Two

Colombia’s rural areas will also be receiving attention through the Accord on Illicit Drugs. This agreement means to be a more people friendly approach to the drug war. Aerial crop spraying has been stopped and alternative development programs will seek to eliminate 96,000 hectares (237,120 acres) of drug crops. Drug crop production jumped from 69,000 hectares (174,430 acres) in 2014, to 96,000 (237,120 acres) in 20015.

Aerial spraying could be resumed in an emergency but is expected to be used only as a last resort. There will be less punishment of crop cultivators and more focus on combatting organized crime and drug related financial crimes. Persons in drug growing areas will have two years to decide whether to participate in the program. Infrastructure will be improved in drug producing zones in order to make easier more legitimate economic activities.

The political reforms contained in the peace accord are expected to reshape Colombia’s political environment. The agreement calls for the government to foment political pluralism, strengthen guarantees of participation and fight against persecution.

Major components of the Political Participation Agreement are:

Creation by political parties and political movements of a Statute of the Opposition to guarantee opposition political rights. Political parties will be allowed to operate more easily without restrictions on their legal status and voter registration will be promoted in rural areas.

Because of numerous acts of violence against political party and social movement members there will be a new system of security for political activity participants. This will include a special prosecutor and police force to protect politicians.

To enhance representation in conflict zone areas 16 special seats will be allowed in the Chamber of Representatives. The seats will be by persons from those areas.

In order to facilitate the FARC’s entrance into politics the FARC will be allowed five seats in the Chamber of Representatives and five in the Senate for two election periods. Until 2026 there will be no minimum member or vote requirements. The State will also provide financing to the new FARC party for 10 years. The amount will be equivalent to 10%  fo all government political party subsidies.

The FARC is allowed one seat on the Consejo Nacional Electoral, CNE but they are not allowed to vote.

The crucial and most controversial of the six accords making up the peace agreement is the Victims and Justice Accord.  The accord will include a Truth Commission with a three year mandate; a special unit to search for all disappeared persons; and a special legal jurisdiction to try crimes against humanity.

See: Colombia Victims Accord to Impact Human Rights Policy

Based on the principles of Transitional Justice, the prosecution for war crimes by both the guerrillas and state actors will allow lesser than normal legal penalties in return for a full cooperation in investigating the crimes. Human Rights Watch has criticized the agreement as too lenient.

The Special Jurisdiction for Peace will consist of 24 judges. Four of the judges may be foreigners. This court will both investigate and prosecute. Crimes which will be punished, include genocide, forced disappearance, sexual violence, forced displacement and recruiting of minors.

Persons agreeing to provide the court with the truth in an exhaustive manner will be able to receive reduced sentences of five to eight years. Those who refuse to cooperate could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. Current court cases involving both the military and guerrillas are to be transferred to the new court. No appeals are allowed once a person agrees to cooperate. Those convicted also will not lose their political rights.

While serving their special transitional justice sentence, the persons will have some restriction of their liberty and will be involved in projects such as rebuilding towns, de-mining operations and substitution of illicit crops.

Verification and implementation of the peace accord will be done by a six member Comision de Implementacion Seguimiento y Verificacion del Acuerdo Final de Paz. This will have three FARC members and three government members. The commission will be required to draw up a 10 year plan for implementation of all aspects of the accord. As part of the implementation commission international verification will be carried ou by Cuba, Norway, Venezuela and Chile.

Demobilization will be overseen by 500 international observers under the United Nations Military Security Council. In addition 262 FARC members and 263 government members will be in command of the activities. 13, 14

SOURCES:

1. FARC Comandante Timoleon Jimenez:Nuestra única arma será la palabra http://www.farc-ep.co/comunicado/nuestra-unica-arma-sera-la-palabra.html

2. Palabras del Presidente Juan Manuel Santos en el acto de firma del Acuerdo Final para la Terminación del Conflicto con las FARC http://es.presidencia.gov.co/discursos/160926-Palabras-del-Presidente-Juan-Manuel-Santos-en-el-acto-de-firma-del-Acuerdo-Final-para-la-Terminacion-del-Conflicto-con-las-FARC#.V-rFP5TEhpw.twitter

3. Full Text of the Colombian Peace Agreement http://www.eltiempo.com/contenido/politica/proceso-de-paz/ARCHIVO/ARCHIVO-16682558-0.pdf

4. Detalle sobre Acuerdo para terminar la guerra http://especiales.semana.com/acuerdo-de-paz/capitulo-uno.html

5. Sí a la paz, pero no a la participación política de Farc, El Espectador, Sept. 20, 2016 http://www.elespectador.com/noticias/politica/si-paz-no-participacion-politica-de-farc-articulo-655925

6. “Preocupan la polarización y la intolerancia de esta campaña”: Alejandra Barrios, directora de la MOE, El Pais, Septiembre 21, 2016 http://www.elpais.com.co/elpais/colombia/proceso-paz/noticias/preocupan-polarizacion-y-intolerancia-esta-campana-alejandra-barrios-d#.V-Kt-pgfFtQ.twitter

6a Plebiscito por la paz precipitó campaña presidencial del 2018 Sept. 18, 2016 http://www.eltiempo.com/politica/partidos-politicos/plebiscito-y-campana-presidencial-2018/16704599

7. Videos de campañas por el Sí y el No en el plebiscito se toman las redes sociales, El Espectador, 16 de Sept. 2016 http://www.elespectador.com/noticias/politica/videos-de-campanas-el-si-y-el-no-el-plebiscito-se-toman-articulo-655185

8.What’s in store for US aid to Colombia? Feb. 4, 2016, https://www.devex.com/news/what-s-in-store-for-us-aid-to-colombia-87698

9.‘Plan Colombia’: How Washington learned to love Latin American intervention again

Sept. 18, 2016 https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/plan-colombia-how-washington-learned-to-love-latin-american-intervention-again/2016/09/18/ddaeae1c-3199-4ea3-8d0f-69ee1cbda589_story.html?postshare=4001474244633332&tid=ss_tw-bottom

10.Aprueban monto del Presupuesto del posconflicto por $224,4 billones, Sept. 13, 2016 http://www.elespectador.com/noticias/economia/aprueban-monto-del-presupuesto-del-posconflicto-2244-bi-articulo-654661

11.Colombia’s Human Rights Defenders Are Dying for Peace, Sept. 9, Insight Crime 2016 http://www.insightcrime.org/news-analysis/colombia-s-human-rights-defenders-are-dying-for-peace

12. Los 13 líderes asesinados después de la firma del acuerdo de paz Revista Semana, Sept. 12, 2016 http://www.semana.com/nacion/articulo/los-13-lideres-asesinados-despues-de-la-firma-del-acuerdo-de-paz/493528

13. Desafíos del fin del conflicto Sept. 7, 2016, El Espectador http://www.elespectador.com/noticias/politica/desafios-del-fin-del-conflicto-articulo-653552

14. Las 30 tesis que han guiado la décima conferencia de las FARC,  Sept. 29, 2016 http://www.semana.com/nacion/articulo/conferencia-de-las-farc-2016-las-30-tesis-que-la-guian/494773

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Ecuador Elections: The Citizens Revolution Without Correa

By Ronald J. Morgan

After nine years of impressive social progress, Ecuador is facing the upcoming February 19, 2017 presidential election under the pressure of a dramatic economic downturn.

The vote in five months, will also be the first presidential election since 2006, where President Raphael Correa will not be a candidate. Under a recently passed law candidates can run for unlimited reelection but the measure doesn’t go into effect until the 2017 election term. President Correa is expected to leave for an extended stay in Belgium next May. But he could be back as a presidential candidate in future years.  An August poll by Pefiles de Opinion showed Correa with 61% approval. 1,2,3

Ecuador will also elect a new 137-member congress. Under Ecuador’s campaign laws the election campaign is held for a 45- day period. Nevertheless, 2016 has already been filled with political activities. Party candidate selection is now under way and is expected to be completed by the end of October. So far, 12 parties and movements are fielding presidential candidates. An estimated 12.8 million persons will be eligible to vote. 4

As of the end of August, the Ecuadoran press was predicting that the offical Alianza Pais party of Raphael Correa will select between Jorge Glas, 46. and Lenin Moreno, 63, as presidential candidates. Due to Moreno doing better in recent opinion polls he is expected to be selected as the candidate during the Alianza Pais Convention, Oct. 2.  Moreno served as Vice President under Correa from 2007-2013. He currently is serving as United Nations Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility.  He was left paraplegic by a crime shooting in 1998.

Glas, an engineer, has known Raphael Correa since they served in the boy scouts together. He has served as Coordinating Minister of Strategic Sectors and Minister of Telecommunications and Information Society under Correa. He has been mentioned as a possible vice-president candidate on a Moreno ticket.

Ecuador’s opposition political forces are also selecting their candidates. Numerous political movements making up a traditional right wing business sector  and an opposition left and Indigenous sector have been negotiating an eventual set of election alliances.

As of September,  Guillermo Lasso, 60, of the CREO Movement party is expected to be a strong vote getter. Lasso finished second in the 2013 presidential election with 22.68% of the vote. Lasso has served as governor of Guayas Province, during the President Jamil Mahuad administration (1998-2000), and later served as Super Minister of the Economy under Mahuad.  Lasso is also the largest shareholder in Banco Guayaquil.

Recently, Cynthia Viteri, 50, of the Social Christian Party has emerged as a strong opposition candidate. She is a journalist and member of the 2007-2008  Constitutional Assembly and currently serving as a representative in the congress since 2013. Viteri ran for president previously in 2006, and finished fifth. Recently Viteri was expelled from Venezuela while visiting opposition members in Caracas.

Jaime Nebot,69, who is currently serving as  mayor of Guayaquil was expected to be a major opposition candidate  but he has announced he will stay out of the race. He remains the head of the Social Christian Party.

An August Pefiles de Opinion poll gave Lenin Moreno the lead in the presidential race with 44% of the vote with Viteri obtaining 16% and Guillermo Lasso 13%. 5

The extent of the current economic downturn and who best can handle it will be a central issue in the campaign. The Central Bank of Ecuador has predicted an economic downturn of -1.7% of GDP for 2016. The recession has produced a drop in inflation to 1.42%.  Employment is stable this year at 5.3%  in June, but up from 4.5% the same month a year ago. The International Monetary Fund has predicted a sharper drop of -2.3%. The IMF, in a somber assessment, has predicted that the economy will not grow for five years. 6,7

Over the last decade Ecuadorans became accustomed to stability and economic gains. Correa has referred the last nine and a half years as the Decade Won. The president said in his recent, May 24 State of the Nation address, that from 2007 to 2015 Ecuador obtained an average economic growth of 3.9%.  The Ecuadoran economy grew from $46 billion to $100 billion in 2016. From 2009 to 2016 1.9 million Ecuadorans left poverty behind. 8, 9

The Ecuadorean recession is the first  big economic crisis in 17 years. President Correa has referred to it as “A Perfect Storm”. A dramatic drop in oil prices combined with a strengthening of the U.S. dollar — Ecuador’s currency — has plunged the country into its sharpest downturn since its mega crisis in 1999. In 2015, Ecuadoran exports dropped $7.4 billion. A major 7.8 earthquake April 16, added another $2 billion in recovery costs to the revenue squeeze from falling oil revenues and exports.  Ecuador’s worst tragedy in 67 years left 663 persons dead and 28,775 homeless. An adverse legal finding also required Ecuador to pay  $1 billion dollars over six months. Economic problems in China and Russia are also affecting Ecuador’s economy.

The downturn forced the Correa government to downsize quickly. From 2015-2016 the government cut government spending by $6 billion. The president has also followed up with a series of tax changes — both increases and incentives — to stabilize Ecuador’s finances. After the earthquake the VAT tax known as IVA was raised 2% to 14%. Despite a signficant worsening of the economic situation early in 2016 when oil prices dropped as low as $20 dollars, (the economy fell 3% in the first six months of 2016) the situation is now stabilizing at mid year with higher oil prices — $45.50 on Sept 8. International Reserves are holding steady at $2.4 billion. The banking system remains solvent. 10,11

The Correa government has also been able to bring on line the Tiputina oil field which will boost oil production by 20,000 barrels a day. The field will bring in $100 million this year. Ecuador has also has had its proven oil reserves in the Yasuni-ITT reserve raised by the analyst firm Rider Scot from 920 million barrels to 1,672 million barrels. 12

The change should allow increased government borrowing to weather the recession. But at the same time the government is approaching a legal debt limit of 40% of GDP. Government debt is now at 38% of GDP. The question is whether congress will increase the debt limit and whether the rising debt will impose restrictions on borrowing during the next presidency. 13

Correa has also moved to cut the number of public entities and transform others. Correa in a move often shunned by left governments, has moved to sell off and concession a number of public firms including TAME airlines, Cementera de Ecuador, FRABEC and Banco de Pacific. Ecuador public news media holdings have also been reorganized. One of the largest privatizations will be the concession for thirty years of  the newly constructed Sopladora Hydroelectric generation facility which was recently completed at a cost of $755 million. A number of major government projects have also been halted.

Ecuador’s political opposition has been moving to create an alternative economic plan as part of the upcoming elections. A recent strategy paper sponsored by the Ecuadorean Federation of  Chambers of Commerce entitled 11 “Proposals for Debate” calls for a revision of government accounts, efforts to raise the international reserves, creation of a new poverty program,  and increased agricultural potential among other ideas.

The opposition has attempted to depict the Correa’s economic strategy as an economic model that has run its course. The astounding success of recent years was based on a dramatic increase in the government’s role in the economy. But rising debt is now making that strategy unsustainable according to recent statements by the opposition. A number of private sector economic forecasts are also more critical than the government as to the current state of economic crisis. 14,15

The Left Opposition is also working to organize resistance to increased oil extraction and mining in the Amazon. They contend the government is over doing it on extractive activities in the jungle and should focus more on promoting tourism.  Movimiento de Unidad Plurinacional Pachakutik has selected Lourdes Tiban, 46, as their first woman presidential candidate. Tiban has served in congress since 2009. There has been talk of forming an alliance between the Indigenous Pachakutik movement and Guillermo Lasso of CREO but recently Lasso rejected Tiban as a vice presidential candidate. 16, 17, 18

The opposition also is calling for an end to what they see as nearly a decade of political polarization and authoritarian behaviour by the Correa Administration. Criticism by Human Rights Watch in its 2015 Annual Report on Ecuador includes charges that the government uses excessive force against anti-government protesters and that they implemented a repressive crackdown on nongovernmental organizations critical of the government. The report also criticizes the negative effects of a 2013 Communication Law on press freedom, and it alleges interference with judicial decisions by the president. Human Rights Watch also reported threats and intimidation against human rights activists. 19

SOURCES

1. Encuesta destaca aprobación al trabajo de Rafael Correa
http://www.eltelegrafo.com.ec/noticias/politica/2/encuesta-destaca-aprobacion-al-trabajo-de-rafael-correa

2. Nueve años de Revolución Ciudadana (9RC) http://www.eltelegrafo.com.ec/noticias/columnistas/20/nueve-anos-de-revolucion-ciudadana-9rc

3.Rafael Correa dejará la vida política el 24 de mayo de 2017 http://www.eltelegrafo.com.ec/noticias/politica/2/rafael-correa-dejara-la-vida-politica-el-24-de-mayo-de-2017

4. Elecciones presidenciales de Ecuador de 2017 https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elecciones_presidenciales_de_Ecuador_de_2017#Precandidaturas

4A .Anexo:Evolución de las encuestas de opinión sobre las elecciones presidenciales de Ecuador de 2017 https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anexo:Evoluci%C3%B3n_de_las_encuestas_de_opini%C3%B3n_sobre_las_elecciones_presidenciales_de_Ecuador_de_2017

5. En julio de 2016 Lenin Moreno se perfilaba como ganador con 44% de los votos según la encuestadora Perfiles de Opinión, en dicha encuesta el 16% votaría por Cynthia Viteri y el 13% por ciento por Guillermo Lasso, Source Wikipedia, Elecciones presidenciales de Ecuador.

6. La economía se contraerá por primera vez en 17 años http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/economia-ecuador-contraera-bancocentral.html

6a. La economía ecuatoriana recién crecerá en el 2021, según el FMI
http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/economiaecuatoriana-crecimiento-fmi-informe.html

7. Desempleo en Ecuador se colocó en 5,3% informa INEC http://www.eluniverso.com/noticias/2016/07/15/nota/5691261/desempleo-ecuador-se-coloco-53-informa-inecTrabajadores y empresarios, preocupados por desempleo en Ecuador http://www.eluniverso.com/noticias/2016/07/19/nota/5698800/trabajadores-empresarios-preocupados-desempleo

8. President Correa’s Last Annual Report to Congress http://www.presidencia.gob.ec/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2016/08/2016.05.24-Discurso-Informe-a-la-Naci%C3%B3n-2016.pdf

9. Ecuador’s Citizens’ Revolution: Retaking Power from the Old Elites http://www.telesurtv.net/english/analysis/Ecuadors-Citizens-Revolution-Transformed-a-Nation–20150113-0022.html

10. Economía de Ecuador en recesión: PIB cayó 3% en primer trimestre de 2016 http://www.elespectador.com/noticias/economia/economia-de-ecuador-recesion-pib-cayo-3-primer-trimestr-articulo-643843

11. “Después de un semestre terrible, se está recuperando la economía”, afirma presidente Correa http://www.andes.info.ec/es/noticias/despues-semestre-terrible-esta-recuperando-economia-afirma-presidente-correa.html

12. Tiputini: 100 millones de ingresos en este año http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/tiputini-ingresos-petroleo-explotacion.html.

13.El peso de la deuda pública en la economía saltó hasta el 38% http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/peso-deuda-publica-economia-salto.html

14. Ecuador Unsteadied http://www.thedialogue.org/blogs/2016/08/ecuador-unsteadied/

15. Ecuador Economic Outlook http://www.focus-economics.com/countries/ecuador

16. Drilling Towards Disaster: Ecuador’s Aggressive Amazonian Oil Push http://amazonwatch.org/news/2016/0406-drilling-towards-disaster-ecuadors-aggressive-amazonian-oil-push

17, Is Ecuador’s Historic Left Working with the Right Against Correa?http://www.telesurtv.net/english/analysis/Is-Ecuadors-Left-Working-with-the-Right-Against-Correa-20150820-0027.html

18. Ecuador’s Indigenous Peoples See Protest ‘Criminalized’ Under Correa http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/trend-lines/19661/ecuador-s-indigenous-peoples-see-protest-criminalized-under-correa

19. Ecuador Human Rights Concerns: https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2016/country-chapters/ecuador

 

 

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Peru’s “El Gringo” Wins By Less Than 1%

By Ronald J. Morgan

Peru has conserved its post dictatorship leadership by the thinnest margins; beating back a powerful challenge from right wing populism’s Keiko Fujimori. Final results from the, June 10, second round voting gave Pedro Pablo Kuczynski the win 50.12% to 49.88% an advantage of only 0.24%.

Kuczynski a 77 year-old former finance minister and World Bank executive, known as PPK, will continue the post dictatorship transition for another five years. The Left played a substantial role in preventing the return of the Fujimori family to power. Announcement of support by the Frente Amplio, party headed by Veronika Mendoza, and encouragement of voters not to vote null or void this time may have provided the thin majority for Kuczynski.

The Anti-Fujimori group Keiko No Va also expressed opposition to the Fujimori candidacy and focussed attention on the shortcomings of the Alberto Fujimori presidency (1990-2000).

Major news media also devoted a large amount of coverage to corruption and human rights violations that occurred during the dictatorship. How the election was won and also nearly lost centers on a near debacle for Kuczynski in the first debate in Piura, May 23 and then a successful recovery in the second debate in Lima, May 29. Kuczynski hit home with more attacks in the second debate while Fujimori had some difficulty responding to the criticism.

See: Peru Races Toward Photo Finish

The final vote showed a country split between a conservative North and a Leftist South. Fujimori’s Fuerza Popular essentially split the votes with Kuczynski’s Peruanos Para El Kambio. The close vote lead to a week long vote count and a final concession of defeat by Keiko Fujimori on Friday.

The official count by the  Oficina Nacional de Procesos Electorales, ONPE, shows. Kuczynski with 8,591,802 votes and Fujimori with 8,549,205. The winning difference was a mere 42,597 votes. While voting in Peru is mandatory absenteeism still occurred of a significant nature. The ONPE reported 4,566, 569 stayed home for a absenteeism rate of 19.940%.

The election was cast as a battle against a possible return to a rightist government that could turn authoritarian and be complacent in allowing a narco state. Accusations in May, of money laundering by Joaquin Ramirez, Secretary General of Fuerza Popular cast a new shadow over the right wing party. The win  by Kuczynski keeps all major military, intelligence and police leadership out of the hands of Fujimori’s Fuerza Popular Party.

Peru has two vicepresidents. Kuczynski’s first Vice President  is Martin Alberto Vizcarra Cornejo, 53, former Regional Governor of Moquegua. Vizcarra headed up Kuczynksi’s political campaign taking over in February when Kuczynski had only 7% support.

The second Vice president and a member of congress as well is  Mercedes Araoz Fernandez Aroaz Fernandez was Peru’s first female Finance Minister (2009-2010) and Minister of Production (2006-2009).  

Kuczynski could be stymied in congress by  a Fujimori majority which could stop major reforms and pass independent legislative initiatives. The 2016, congress shows a strong majority for Fujimori with Fuerza Popular  winning 73 seats of a total of 130. The left Frente Amplio party of Veronika Mendoza won 20 seats and established itself as the second strongest voting bloc.

Kuczynski’s Peruanos Para El Kambio will have only 18 seats. Alianza Para El Progreso of Cesar Acuña won 19 seats, Alfredo Bernechea’s Accion Popular won five seats. President Alan Garcia’s Alianza Popular Revolucionaria ( APRA) Party won  five seats. President Alejandro Toledo’s Peru Posible Party and current president Ollant Humala’s Nacionalista Party have no representation in congress.

Kuczynski was a dual national with U.S. citizenship and has an American wife. He renounced his citizenship in November last year as he prepared to run for president, according to the publication Peru Reports. He is often referred to as El Gringo.  His mother was of Swiss French descent and his father a German Jew from what is now Poland. The family fled the Nazis in 1933 and settled in Peru. This is his second attempt to win the presidency. In 2011, he finished third behind Ollanta Humala and Keiko Fujimori.

Kuczynski is a neoliberal and strong anti-Left populist. He supported Keiko Fujimori in the second round 2011 election to show his opposition to the left Ollanta Humala. After being elected  Kuczynski called in his remarks for national unity. He has pledged to restart the economy, fight crime and expand social programs. But he is expected to adhere to the don’t rock the boat conservatism that has been the rule since Fujimori fell from power in 2000.

SOURCES

Resultados ONPE al 100%: PPK 50,12% y Keiko Fujimori 49,88% El Comercio, June 10, 2016 http://elcomercio.pe/politica/elecciones/resultados-onpe-al-100-votacion-ppk-y-keiko-fujimori-noticia-1908072

Keiko Fujimori: “Aceptamos los resultados, seremos oposición” El Comercio, June 10, 2016 http://elcomercio.pe/politica/elecciones/keiko-fujimori-se-pronunciara-sobre-ultimos-resultados-onpe-noticia-1908294?ref=portada_politica&ft=mod_losmas&e=nota_2

Elecciones 2016: diez momentos que marcaron la segunda vuelta El Comercio, June 10, 2016 http://elcomercio.pe/politica/elecciones/elecciones-2016-diez-momentos-que-marcaron-segunda-vuelta-noticia-1908339

PPK: “Gracias Perú, es hora de trabajar juntos por el futuro”http://elcomercio.pe/politica/elecciones/ppk-vivo-conferencia-prensa-miraflores-presidente-peru-noticia-1908027

Equipo económico de PPK alista paquete de medidas inmediatas La Republica, June 10, 2016 http://larepublica.pe/impresa/politica/775883-equipo-economico-de-ppk-alista-paquete-de-medidas-inmediatas

“Es muy importante que se discuta la democracia interna y el financiamiento” La Republica, June 11, 2016 http://larepublica.pe/impresa/politica/775921-es-muy-importante-que-se-discuta-la-democracia-interna-y-el-financiamiento

Mario Vargas Llosa: “La izquierda salvó la democracia en el Perú” La Republica, June 11, 2016 http://larepublica.pe/politica/776013-mario-vargas-llosa-la-izquierda-salvo-la-democracia-en-el-peru

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Peru Races Toward Photo Finish

By Ronald J. Morgan

With time running short, Peru is awash in accusations against Keiko Fujimori’s Fuerza Popular party. The bombshell of the second round face-off with traditional neoliberal rightist, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and his Peruanos Para El Kambio,  has been the revelations of a Peruvian pilot who lives in Miami and works as an informant for the DEA.

The pilot, Jesus Francisco Vazquez, revealed in mid May that he recorded a conversation in 2013, with Joaquin Ramirez, Secretary General of Fuerza Popular. The conversation Vazquez said, records Ramirez bragging that he laundered $15 million dollars for Keiko Fujimori using a group of gas stations in Peru. The accusation was later backed up by announcement that Ramirez was part of a wide-ranging money laundering investigation being carried out by the  U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Ramirez, a Peruvian congressman and major party financier has since resigned his post at Fuerza Popular.

Keiko did not publicaly signal out the United States for the attack from Miami but credited the announcement to a general dirty war election campaign designed to discredit her and she also put the blame on current Peruvian President Ollanta Humala and his wife Nadine Heredia.

Peru Chooses Between Right Wing Alternatives

The election this Sunday, June 5 will turn on whether the voters will be influenced by the accusations as well as  other criticism of the historically corrupt and authoritarian behavior of the movement founded by President Alberto Fujimori in the 1990s.

Kuczynski forces, after falling behind Fuerza Popular, have attempted to reach out to the Left and the political supporters of former Peruvian presidents to close the gap. Kuczynski has called a Keiko Fujimori presidency a threat to democracy.

While an estimated 100,000 persons marched against the return of a Fujimori to the presidency in the last week, the organizational strength of Fuerza Popular is evident throughout the country.  The historically important election will be a tight win for either candidate.

One of the most recent opinion polls published, May 29,  shows Fujimori pulling ahead in the race with 53.1%  of support versus 43.9% for  Kuczynski. But Friday June 3, Reuters reported polls following Sunday’s presidential debate as closing the race to a dead heat.

Analysts are crediting Fuerza Popular with establishment of a strong organization base in rural areas, particularly in northern and eastern Peru. Some have also pointed out Fuerza Popular political events have been well-organized and executed.  The presidential campaign stops have been repeated and frequent. Some might also wonder whether all those funny expressive pictures taken of Keiko might have produced a few votes. Keiko´s youthful appearance at age 41, and her innocent idealistic speaking style may also be an asset. Keiko’s appeal is  strongest among the lowest income voters.

See: Peru Stumbles to First Round Vote

Central to her campaign has been the charge that Kuczynski supports large business owners and transnational corporations while Fuerza Popular will give priority to developing small and medium size businesses. Keiko claims to identify with the concerns of woman. Fuerza Popular vouches that they will be more effective in combating crime since they were able to defeat Sendero Luminoso. She has forged controversial campaign alliances with artisan and illegal mining groups in the Peruvian jungle and also among religious groups opposing gay marriage and abortion.

A poll by Datum May 27 shows 52% contend Keiko won the first Presidential Debate in Piura verus 31% who thought  Kuczynski won. The second debate in Lima was seen as win for Pablo Kuczynski.

Nevertheless,  Keiko Fujimori is short on experience and the shadow of corruption is beginning to appear in a way that could quickly discredit a new Fujimori government if it came to power.

Keiko has promised to implement Plan Peru which includes increased government spending on infrastructure, tough anti-crime measures, including new prisons  and increased support for health care, education and early job training.

In her closing rally in Lima, Friday, she stressed: “I’m running for President of Peru to improve this nation’s security hand-in-hand with law enforcement agents, improve the quality of education and health services,” Peru’s Andina News Service reported.

Her opponent, Pablo Kuczynski, 77, holds all the cards in the areas of government experience and has little negative baggage attached to him other than his Lima identification, sometime American accent, and connection to neoliberal policies adopted by the Alejandro Toledo administration. PPK, as he is known, is not a fiery orator, however, and his  Peruanos Para El Kambio campaign does not seem to be as well-organized as Fuerza Popular.

Kuczynski has promised to gradually lower the IGV sales tax from 18% to 15% and renegotiate Peru’s gas contracts to facilitate domestic use of Peru’s gas reserves. In his closing remarks from Arequipa he promised dialogue with all social sectors and to promote peaceful resolution of conflicts.

He told the crowd in Arequipa Friday, June 3: “Peru requires a peaceful social revolution, so that those forgotten can join the prosperous part of the population; eight million people live in the most extreme poverty and 10 million lack water service; we have polluted rivers and lakes. There are pillagers threatening the Amazon rainforest. We need a revolution that can translate into water, health and education,” Peru’s Andina News Service reported.

Early in the second round, Kuczynski said he didn’t need the support of the Left and Frente Amplio leader Veronika Mendoza said she would not endorse his candidacy. But the rising tied of Fuerza Popular produced an about-face and Mendoza and other Left figures have called for support for Kuczynski and advised their followers not to vote blank or null in the election.

The moderate and Left sectors of Peru’s political universe are trying to ward off a Keiko victory by stressing that a return of a Fujimori to the Peruvian Presidency will be a noticeable turn to the right and may include  danger of authoritarian actions and human rights violations. Fuerza Popular has won  73 seats in congress and constitutes a strong majority that could give Keiko wide ranging power over legislation. Fujimori supporters still often refer to Leftists who oppose them as terrorists.

A poll by Datum May 27 shows 52% contend Keiko won the first Presidential Debate in Piura May 23, verus 31% who thought  Kuczynski won. The second debate in Lima, May 29, was seen as win for Pablo Kuczynski. According to Diario Correo a poll taken after the event showed 75% favoring Kuczynski’s performance versus 26.3% for Keiko.

In addition Keiko’s party has stumbled in responding to the accusations of a former DEA informant based in Miami by ensnaring themselves in a tricky attempt to discredit informant Vazquez.  After Ramirez stepped down as party Secretary General of Fuerza Popular,  Jose Chlimper took over. Chlimper was quickly involved in an attempt to discredit  Vazquez  by having a mis edited recording of Vazquez sent to a Peruvian television program. The interview of Vazquez was done by Jaime Verastegui, a Fuerza Popular candidate for congress.

The show aired an inaccurate statement by Vazquez where he denied that the original accusations he made were true. While, who re-edited the interview done in Miami  is still unknown, the revelation of the inaccurate doctored tape resulted in the canceling of the television news program Las Cosas Como Son and  the resignation of Pedro Arbulu  Director of Television Panamericana. Arbulu received the questioned interview tape from Jose Chlimper.   Kuczynski has called on the National Election Board, known as the JNE to investigate the incident.

The Fujimori family fortune also came under scrutiny by the La Republica newspaper which reported  that Keiko’s Aunt, Rosa Fujimori, and her husband Victor Aritomi, an ex Peruvian Embassador to Japan from 1990 to 2000, are living in Japan where extradition is near impossible and may be in control of illegal funds spirited out of Peru in the 1990s. The newspaper has called for the lifting of bank secrecy in Japan to investigate further.

Kuczynski’s running mate  Martin Vizcarra has denounced a Fujimori campaign  to discredit him. Vizcarra, a former regional governor of Moquequa charged that numerous corruption allegations brought against him in Moquequa were baseless and politically motivated. He also denied a charge by Keiko during the first Presidential debate in Piura  that he had  appropriated land in Ácora, Puno, Peru.

As election day approaches  the question is how many Peruvians will ignore the accusations of money laundering  against  Ramirez and also overlook the shortcomings of the 1990s Fujimori dictatorship –Alberto Fujimori is seving a 25 year sentence for human rights crimes. Clearly the Pro Fujimori voters would be suffering from historical memory loss and turning a blind eye to recent signs of corruption in the Fuerza Popular party.  But its obvious that many have grown tired of the status quo.

 

SOURCES

¿Cuáles fueron las principales propuestas de PPK y Keiko Fujimori en el debate? 23 de Mayo 2016, RPP Noticias http://rpp.pe/politica/elecciones/cuales-fueron-las-principales-propuestas-de-ppk-y-keiko-en-el-debate-noticia-964622

Capo de la droga “Eteco” es el hilo de la madeja que investiga la DEA http://larepublica.pe/impresa/en-portada/768134-capo-de-la-droga-eteco-es-el-hilo-de-la-madeja-que-investiga-la-dea

PPK: ¿por qué descendió en reciente simulacro de Ipsos?http://elcomercio.pe/politica/elecciones/ppk-que-descendio-reciente-simulacro-ipsos-noticia-1900060

Los oscuros compromisos de la candidata Fujimori http://larepublica.pe/impresa/politica/765384-los-oscuros-compromisos-de-la-candidata-fujimori

PPK vs. Keiko Fujimori: ¿por quién votarán los ex candidatos?   El  Comercio June  3, 2016  http://elcomercio.pe/politica/elecciones/keiko-fujimori-vs-ppk-quien-votaran-ex-candidatos-noticia-1906287/1

El voto fujimorista y su evolución en los últimos años http://elcomercio.pe/politica/elecciones/voto-fujimorista-y-su-evolucion-ultimos-anos-noticia-1901173

Planes de gobierno de Fuerza Popular y PPK: mismo modelo, distintos enfoques http://larepublica.pe/impresa/politica/767672-planes-de-gobierno-de-fuerza-popular-y-ppk-mismo-modelo-distintos-enfoques

Multitudinaria y contundente movilización en defensa de la democracia, La Republica,  June 1, 2016, http://larepublica.pe/impresa/politica/772529-multitudinaria-y-contundente-movilizacion-en-defensa-de-la-democracia

Datum: el 52% cree que Keiko ganó el debate el y 31%, PPK May  27, 2016, http://elcomercio.pe/politica/elecciones/datum-52-cree-que-keiko-fujimori-gano-debate-presidencial-y-31-ppk-noticia-1904730

Elecciones 2016: Análisis del último debate presidencial, 29 de Mayo, 2016 T.V. Peru http://www.tvperu.gob.pe/informa/politica/elecciones-2016-lisis-del-ltimo-debate-presidencial

PPK vs Keiko Fujimori: Así fue el último debate presidencial antes de elecciones 29 de Mayo 2016 Diario Correo http://diariocorreo.pe/politica/ppk-vs-keiko-fujimori-candidatos-se-miden-en-segundo-debate-675613/

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski ganó el debate según lectores de Correo 29 de Mayo Diario Correo de Peru http://diariocorreo.pe/politica/encuesta-elige-quien-gana-el-segundo-debate-presidencial-675630/

Coincidieron en propuestas; PPK cuestionó capacidad de Fujimori, La Republica, May 30, 2016,  http://larepublica.pe/impresa/politica/771980-coincidieron-en-propuestas-ppk-cuestiono-capacidad-de-fujimori

Keiko Fujimori vs. PPK: promesas y compromisos a la orden June 2, 2016 El Comercio http://elcomercio.pe/politica/elecciones/keiko-fujimori-vs-ppk-promesas-y-compromisos-orden-noticia-1906213

Detailed analysis of Peruvian Second Round Election, Peru might elect an authoritarian president. Washington Post June 3, 2016 https://twitter.com/Morgo6/status/738806455562817536

 

 

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