Mendoza's announcement; a step towards unity on the left?

30 August 2015

The announcement by Veronika Mendoza earlier this month that she intends to run for president is but the first shot in what looks likely to be a fractious battle to see who (if anyone) emerges as the candidate for the left. Mendoza looks likely to face other competitors within the Frente Amplio to which she belongs, not least Marco Arana, the leader of Tierra y Libertad.

Mendoza could well be a good card for the left to play. As well as being a woman, she has an electoral base outside Lima, in Cusco, for which she has been a deputy for the last four years. She is young, bright and telegenic. However, her pre-candidacy announcement has sharpened the ambitions of others who, like her, want to be the candidate of the left.

No sooner than she had announced her candidacy, Mendoza was pounced upon in the right-wing press for a refusal to state that Venezuela had a ‘false’ democracy. Chavismo remains an attractive target for the Peruvian right, as Alan García discovered to his advantage when combating Ollanta Humala in the 2006 elections.

Arana has a long track record, based largely on his strident opposition to the activities of Yanacocha in Cajamarca, Conga in particular. Grufides, the organisation he helped found and direct, has been a prime mover in the various campaigns against Yanacocha, Latin America’s largest gold producer which is majority owned by Newmont Mining of the United States. In the process, he has made himself a bête noire of the mining industry and right-wing media organisations.

Even when the Frente Amplio decides in October who its candidate will be, it is far from clear whether this will lead to a unified campaign around a single left-wing contender. Like Tierra y Libertad, the Partido Humanista of Yehude Simón has the distinct advantage of already enjoying official registration as a political party. Simón has threatened to withdraw his candidacy, but this could be just part of an attempt to shore up his leadership of Unéte, a heterogenous grouping that includes the Partido Humanista as well as the centre-left Ciudadanos por el Cambio and the former Chinese-line Communist Party, Patria Roja.

The quest for a single left-wing candidacy thus has to overcome both leadership ambitions of various individuals as well as profound distrust among the various parties and factions into which the Peruvian left has long been divided. However, it is clear to all concerned that a divided electoral campaign is not to the interest of any party or leader, particularly those who might aspire to a seat in the next Congress. But the self-destructive instinct is strongly imbued into the Peruvian left.

All articles

  • PSG Aims

    The Peru Support Group exists to promote social inclusion, sustainable development and the observance of human rights in Peru. To that end the PSG highlights shortcomings in observance of established norms, whether international or local in nature, in its research, advocacy and publications. In so doing, it underscores the relationships that exist within the political system, how institutions work, and the effectiveness of policies that aim to reduce poverty and inequality within the context of sustainable development.

  • Historical Overview

    Over the past century Peru has suffered a series of autocratic governments and a civil war in which nearly 70,000 people died. Many of the country's ongoing political and social problems are a legacy of its somewhat turbulent past. 

  • Human Rights

    Human rights violations were widespread during the twenty years after the initiation of armed conflict in 1980. Efforts to convict perpetrators since the war's end have made only limited progress. Today, concerns remain over the treatment of those engaged in social protest, particularly against strategically important investment projects.

  • Why join the PSG?

    • Keep up to date with latest news and developments in Peru
    • Learn about key issues of poverty, development and human rights in Peru
    • Support the work of the Peru Support Group

    Become a member