By Hugo Ballon
ON THE heels of a dramatic presidential debate, the Peruvian left may have carved out an additional path to power in the form of Veronika Mendoza and her party Juntos por el Peru (JP).
Like many countries in Latin America, Peru is in need of addressing the nation’s extreme levels of inequality, poverty, and political instability.
More than 650,000 Peruvians are currently living in the US. For the first time, this population will have a voice in the upcoming elections.
Ley (law) 31032 recently created the 27th District, which allows Peruvians living abroad to elect two congressional representatives.
JP is seeking to capitalize these seats and the presidency in a crowded race on April 11. The latest polls show them in the three-way tie with Popular Action and Go On Country – though no party is polling above 15 percent.
Mendoza, the seasoned politician from Cusco, is heading the JP pack. More than 20 other political parties have joined her in the fragmented battle for control over the Andean nation.
The party is running another progressive leader, Manuela Bastidas, as a candidate for the cosmopolitan district. The newly outlined congressional region will represent Peruvians living abroad in all of the seven continents.
Bastidas, a social worker living in Milan, Italy, built her platform centered around lifting the working class and migrant families. The Italian resident wants to reform the role of the consulates to make them more accessible, affordable, and ensure they provide legal aid. These are among her main proposals that will set the country’s trajectory toward facilitating migration and easing the process for Peruvians hoping to achieve better opportunities abroad.
The coalition of JP, in general, focuses on women rights and LGBTQIA+ issues in a nation that has been shifting from its socially conservative past. Mendoza’s party proposes the decriminalization of abortion and the legalization of same sex marriage.
She has also put forth plans to fight violence against women. In 2020 alone, Peru has reported over 5,500 missing women, 208 femicide attempts, and 138 femicide deaths. The majority of these victims were reported to be minors.
Machismo, a systemic issue that derives from toxic masculinity, disproportionately affects women through inequality, discrimination, and violence. Veronika Mendoza’s party emphasises women’s issues as a priority and offers women a coalition free of gender-based restrictions. Overall, women make up 22 percent of candidates; in JP, the figure rises to half.
Although progressive ideas have not been welcomed warmly in Peru, the shifts resemble the regional changes currently taking place.
The Bolivian elections held October 2020, have sparked resurgence in the Latina America’s Pink Tide. Luis Arce’s MAS (Movement for Socialism) has returned former president Evo Morales’ party back to power with an overwhelming first round victory.
Since then, the left has been able to claim victories in Venezuela and Ecuador. Opposition party’s boycott of the Venezuelan election resulted in a Parliamentary shift and gives Nicolas Maduro 91 percent of the Parliamentary seats. In Ecuador, the left has been able to add seats in the National Assembly ahead of what looks to be a certain victory for Andrez Arrauz and a return to Correismo in the second round.
This revitalization of the Pink Tide shows promise of infecting the most unlikely nations through coalition building and people power movements. In Colombia the opposition parties have coalesced in hopes of defeating Ivan Duque in the 2022 elections. Chile’s Daniel Jadue is currently a frontrunner in the November presidential race.
Chileans filled the streets to change the constitution and Jadue’s Communist Party has gained support after being an outspoken supporter of ending the Pinochet era constitution.
Similar circumstances are surrounding Juntos por el Peru. The party has been able to integrate Nuevo Peru, Patria Roja, Partido Humanista Peruano, and many more parties.
Party leaders were at the forefront of the massive protest that erupted after Manuel Merino took over the country and former president Martin Vizcarra was removed from office through a coup d’etat.
The massive mobilization that began last November resulted in many injuries and the deaths of two protestors, Inti Sotelo and Brian Pintado. Merino was forced to resign just 5 days after taking office and Juntos por el Peru has surged as a party leader in the upcoming elections despite finishing below the 5 percent threshold last election cycle.
Veronika Mendoza has been a fierce supporter of a constitution referendum. Similarly to Chile, the Peruvian Constitution was created during the dictatorship of Alberto Fujimori.
Fujimori was sentenced 25 years back in 2009 for crimes against humanity. His reign cost the lives of over 70,000 Peruvians. Fujimori has also been implicated in the deaths of five women and the injuries of another 1,301 women who were allegedly sterilized against their will. He is accused of kidnappings, assassinations, forced sterilizations of indigenous women.
More than 270,000 sterilizations were performed on poor, rural areas due to the pressured health officials faced by the Health Ministry to meet sterilization quotas. Fujimori was released on humanitarian grounds back in 2017, and ordered back to jail in 2018.
A new constitution is a call to end the era of Fujimori. It’s a cry for democracy to all the indigenous communities without the proper representation and a voice for these communities that account for over ¼ of the Peruvian population.
Just over a fifth of Peruvians percent live below the poverty line, and these disproportionately poor communities lack a path for economic mobility in the 1993 constitution.
A new constitution is a demand for stability in a nation plagued with political turmoil and corruption.
Peru has had four presidents in the last three years and not a single presidency in the last 30 years has been free from scandals and legal scandals that include bribery, coercion, impeachments, human rights violations, and even a suicide death to avoid facing the court room.
Juntos por el Peru has the deck stacked against them, but regional tendencies give enough hope and optimism to a nation whose political problems seem never ending.
Hugo Ballon is a Peruvian American writer from the Washington D.C area. He is a Fmr. Campaign Manager to Elijah Manley. Find Hugo on Twitter @ballon_hugo
Opinion articles featured on Redaction Politics reflect the views of their author, not those of the publication as a whole. Only Editorials display the opinions of our management.
Redaction cannot survive without your help. Support us for as little as $1 a month on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/RedactionPolitics.