Candidates less than explicit on key social and environmental issues

12 June 2016

What were the key issues in the election from a social and environmental perspective? What did the two second round candidates have to say about these? What are the challenges that lie ahead for the next government?

Convoca, a group dedicated to investigative journalism, this week published a useful point-by-point guide to some of these questions. They asked specialists in each area what they thought. We thought it would be helpful to summarise their conclusions.
http://convoca.pe/agenda-propia/expertos-analizan-los-temas-urgentes-para-el-nuevo-gobierno

Citizen security. César Bazán from the Instituto de Defensa Legal (IDL) considered this to be one of the most important challenges facing the next government. He considered that the problem had become worse in the last few years, in large part because of the growth of drug trafficking. Both candidates had promised ‘mano dura’ (tough measures) to tackle the problem. IDL considered Kuczynski’s original government plan to be better than Fujimori’s approach, but that he had then been pulled in a ‘populist’ direction during the course of the campaign, particularly on punishment issues. Bazán saw the main challenge as being to counter the corruption and inefficiency that pervades the police force.

Health. Oscar Ugarte, a former health minister, emphasised the small percentage of the population currently enjoying access to the system of integrated health security (SIS), especially in rural areas. He thought that neither candidate produced a clear blueprint for improving health standards, still less how this would be paid for. He saw informality in the employment sector as the main obstacle to improving health security, with the majority of the labour force excluded from such provision. “For them there is no effective programme that can include them”, he said.

Employment. According to Julio Gamero, a former labour minister, only 14% of Peruvian workers have a decent job with a contract and labour benefits. He was critical of the lack of specificity in the programmes of both Kuczynski and Fujimori, especially with regard to promises about raising the minimum wage. Looking forward, he stressed the importance of improving institutions in this sector and upgrading training. He advocated changes to improve the system of collective bargaining with guarantees on trade union freedoms.

Gender issues. María Ysabel Cedano from the NGO Demus highlighted the problem of conjugal violence against women. For her, Kuczynski’s recommendations for public policy in this area were substantially better than those of Fujimori. But both gave more attention to dealing with the consequences of violence against women rather than in preventing it (eg through better education). Cedano hopes the next government will take real steps to encourage gender equality and prevent violence against women. She looked forward to a better interface between civil society and the state in this respect.

Conflict management. Miguel Lévano, from Oxfam, cited the latest figures from the Defensoría as evidence of the scale of social conflict in Peru . While both candidates promised to improve conflict management, he noted that neither had done much in the past to tackle the causes of protest. He highlighted the lack of interest in backing the right of communities to prior consultation when face with extractive projects, the weakness of environmental institutions, and a further lack of interest of either candidate in establishing a system of territorial management (ordenamiento territorial). People need to see the advantages accruing to them from extractive development, he said.

Environmental damage. Ivan Lanegra, previously from the Defensoría, noted the wide geographical distribution of environmental degradation and the number of detailed reports that had been simply shelved. Neither candidate in the election had provided convincing proposals for remedying environmental damage, and he considered this unlikely so long as government seeks to relax environmental controls in the hope of attracting investment. The next government, he thought, should be obliged to take the issue seriously and assign the necessary resources to pay for remediation.

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