Presidential campaigning and extractives
1 February 2016
The issue of extractives has entered the presidential campaign debate with force. As an exporter of primary materials products vulnerable to large variations in prices, the role these play in the economy is never far from public attention, particularly with respect to social conflicts they often generate. The role of extractives was a key one in the 2011 presidential campaign. Since becoming president in 2011, Ollanta Humala has done little to reduce the number of social conflicts and the deaths that result. At the same time, business interests blame him for not having done enough to enable key extractive projects to go ahead.
The issue of ‘consulta previa’ (prior consultation) remains contentious. Some see this holding Peru back in opening up new extractive projects. The law on consulta previa was passed by Humala in 2011, but candidates on the right do not support it. In 2011 Keiko Fujimori’s Fuerza Popular party voted against it, but this time she has sought to avert discussion because it might cost her votes.
The candidate Julio Guzmán brought the issue to the fore by last month first by saying that as president he would not apply it and then backtracking immediately when it became clear that this was a tactical error. The former vice-minister for intercultural affairs, Ivan Lanegra, was one of the first to challenge Guzmán on the matter.
Guzmán’s real opinion about the law remains unclear. Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK) and his running mate took this opportunity to counter what they see as a threat from Guzmán and to portray themselves as wanting to maintain the law despite some reservations.
Other candidates, such as former president Alan Garcia, are less than categorical on the issue even as he is widely viewed as the man responsible for the Baguazo when several police and protesters were killed in a confrontation over consulta previa in 2009. Veronika Mendoza from the Frente Amplio is one of the few candidates that back more rigorous implementation of the law as it stands.