A round-up of the year
Update 118. 30 November 2006
2006 has been a year of elections throughout Latin America and none was followed more closely than that in Peru with the final two candidates – Alan García and Ollanta Humala going head to head in the polls and a very slim margin in the final round of voting. In July this year Alan Garcia was elected President of Peru, and not for the first time. He takes the helm of the Peruvian government for the second time, with a controversial track record, both in terms of his management of the economy and the human rights agenda; some say he could have a tough time keeping the Peruvian population on side.
In contrast to his heterodox first term in office, he is following a more orthodox policy this time, aligning his government closely with Washington both in terms of foreign and economic policy.
The administration has made some controversial moves, attempting to broaden the death penalty to include child abusers and threatening to pull out of the Inter American court on human rights to do it.
There have been strong criticisms made of NGOs since the new government took office, and now with congress approving the modification to the law which created the APCI (Peruvian Association for International Cooperation) to give government control over the activities and the sources of funding of NGOs in Peru, there is great fear that this government will not uphold the rights of civil society in Peru to bring about democratic change.
Fujimori fled to Chile just over one year ago and remains there under house arrest and facing trial with the possibility of his extradition to Peru. Amazingly he seems to maintain his popularity amongst the electorate in Peru, his supporters in congress carrying a lot of weight and his daughter Keiko receiving the highest number of votes as congressperson. His brother Santiago also remains in Congress.
Mining has been an issue on everyone’s lips this year as social conflict in areas where mining projects are located is on the increase. The concerns of many groups within Peru are that mining concessions are granted by central government to foreign and Peruvian companies without consultation with local communities who live or have the rights to that land. Regional governments and local authorities are concerned that without the opportunity to decide how and when they use their natural resources, they are unlikely to benefit from the potential wealth that can be generated and the subsequent development this can bring about.
In the Regional elections last month (November) the victors were, overwhelmingly, local figures running on local tickets for local sounding parties. Of 195 provinces, local groupings prevailed in 112, whilst APRA won only 16 and the Humala’s Nationalist party (PNP) ten. Voters appear not only disenchanted with national political parties, but keen to support a strictly regional agenda.