The meaning of reconciliation
13 January 2018
When President Kuczynski announced, two weeks ago, that the new cabinet would be a cabinet of ‘reconciliation’, it invited the question of reconciliation with what or whom.
For many observers it meant the reconciliation between his government and the Fujimorista opposition. But the cabinet, as announced, gives no hint of any reconciliation here. The Fujimoristas, along with most other parties with representation in Congress, made it very clear they wished to be no part of a cabinet in a Kuczynski administration. They had no interest in identifying themselves in a government that has emerged from the Christmas impeachment-indulto crisis clearly weaker than before. With local elections pending in October, the pro-Fujimori Fuerza Popular party (FP) only gains as Kuczynski’s support base shrinks. The new cabinet is even more dependent on the few Kuczynski supporters left.
Reconciliation could have a different meaning, one more in line with the spirit of the Truth and Reconciliation Report, published in 2003. This would mean the burying of the hatchet between those who took part in the 20-year war between Sendero Luminoso and the Peruvian state. Some tokens of reconciliation have been made (mainly in the form of monetary compensation) but there is little evidence of any spirit of healing of the deep wounds that date from that time. Human rights continue to be under attack, as are human rights defenders. Like its predecessors, the Kuczynski government has done little to remedy the situation, while the indulto has been taken as an insult by the relatives of the victims of human rights crimes.
Finally, reconciliation could be taken to mean steps the bridge the huge gap that exists in Peru between the state and society, the governors and the governed, the Peru oficial and the Peru real. This is a gap that goes back decades, indeed centuries. Most Peruvians find themselves far removed from spheres of decision making. Again, as with its predecessors, the Kuczynski administration has done nothing to bridge that gap, giving privileged decision making access to a narrow economic elite determined to protect and promote its interests. Lacking access to power, either through their own social organisations or through political parties, the majority are left out in the cold.
Reconciliation, whatever it is taken to mean, appears to be little more than an empty word, one liable to come back to haunt the present administration. Until there is some genuine reconciliation, political stability in Peru will remain elusive.