Perus economy has undergone tremendous development since the transition to the 21st century. Neoliberal reforms and corruption have made life hopeless hard for the many, fluctuating but reasonable for a growing middle class and luxurious for the few.
When Alan García became president in 1985, he assumed responsibility for an extreme foreign debt, and he declared that Peru would only spend 10% of the countrys export earnings to pay interest. Then Peru was exposed to an extensive boycott of foreign countries. Hyperinflation raged in 1989-1990, reaching 12377% in August 1990. Yes, unimaginable: 12377%!
For Peruvians with money, it was bad. For Peruvians in the cities without money, it was terrible. Self-sufficient farmers are almost independent of the monetary economy, but seeds, school uniforms and supplementary food products must be paid in cash. When harvest fails due to drought or is destroyed by unstoppable rain, they are met by HUNGER. And feel powerless.
The 1990 presidential election was won by Alberto Fujimori, who had appeared on the political scene a few months before. He carried out neoliberal reforms, fujichock, so many people experienced deteriorating living conditions, half the population was thrown into extreme poverty.
To raise money, Fujimori privatized the nationalized companies, and spent some money on farmers in southern Peru, where the most visible today are colored latrine houses scattered in the countryside, while fieldwork continued as before – ie. with human muscle power and some draft animals.
Since Fujimori did not have majority in parliament, he called it corrupt and committed coup d’etat in 1992 by dissolving it. The United States immediately interrupted the cooperation, but began shortly after new negotiations and the IMF approved his structural program.
That same year, Abimael Guzmán, head of Shining Path, was captured; terror and counter-terror had frozen public life. The country was in military state of emergency and the military forced farmers to defend themselves against the guerrillas and to attack the civilian population where the guerrillas had influence.
The government reintroduced a forced sterilization campaign in many rural areas. It is estimated that about 300,000 women were sterilized – most Indians, and most against their will or for food.
At the 1995 presidential election, Fujimori was re-elected and issued amnesty to all military and police officers who had been convicted since 1980 for human rights violations in the fight against the Shining Path.
The 1993-Constitution allowed a president to run for one re-election, but Fujimoris parliamentary supporters passed a law that allowed him to run for a third term and he was elected. Shortly thereafter, hidden footage of intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos was shown on television showing where he bribed an opposition politician to support Fujimori. The exposure forced Fujimori to call an election. He then flew to a summit abroad and from his ancestors Japan faxed a declaration of his resignation as President of Peru. Parliament rejected the statement because it demand impeachment. Fujimori sought shelter in traditionally hostile Chile, but was extradited to Peru.
In 2009, Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years in prison for human rights violations. He was to serve the sentence in the same top-level prison as Guzmán, the leader of the Shining Path. In 2015, Fujimoris sentence was extended by 8 years for misuse of public funds.
Economist Alejandro Toledo, son of poor Indian peasants, gathered the opposition and in 2001 was elected president of Peru and thus the countrys first Indian President. Now he was responsibel for the indebted country, where over half the population lived in poverty while Perus economy experienced a growth higher than neighboring countries. Apart from a fall in 2009, economic growth in Peru was between 5 and 7%; the middle class doubled its income in a decade.
In 2006, Toledo was replaced by Alan García, who had been President in 1985-90; now García promised to manage the economy better than last – when hyperinflation raged. The other candidate of the election was the officer Ollanta Humala Tasso, who had fought the Shining Path and in 2000 had attempted a coup against President Fujimori; Humala was criticized for his father being a Communist and for his brother being sentenced to 25 years in prison for taking 17 police officers hostage and killing 4 of them.
At the following election in 2011, Humala was elected as Perus new President. During that election campaign, too, he was cried up as a socialist – he himself declared to be inspired by Social Democrat-oriented President Ignácio Lula da Silva in Brazil. Immediately after his election victory, Peruvian shares took the biggest dive ever, but the prices were corrected when he had appointed his ministers and the stock traders had seen his program
In 2017, Toledo as President is accused of having received 20 million US Dollars in return commission. When he is in the United States, an international arrest warrant is issued; a judge decides he must stay in jail while he is investigated. But he remains free.
The accusations against Toledo are part of the gigantic corruption, Operation Car Wash, which was committed between 2001 and 2016 by Latin Americas largest contractor Odebrecht, the state-owned Brazilian oil company Petrobras and Brazils largest meat producer JBS. In a lawsuit in the United States, the chief executive of Odebrecht and 75 senior executives have confessed spending 800 million US Dollars to bribe politicians in 11 Latin American countries; allegedly 29 million US Dollars in the years 2009-2015 must have been given in Peru.
One year after Humala ends his presidential term in 2016, he is remanded in custody for receiving a bribe from Odebrecht.
New President will be economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski Godard, Perus former finance and prime minister. In the second round of elections, he wins razor-sharp over Keiko Fujimori, the imprisoned President Fujimoris daughter.
Shortly after Kuczynskis inauguration, the prosecution initiates investigations against him for his relations with Odebrecht. A large parliamentary majority votes to demand impeachment, but this majority is not sufficient to dismiss him. To lessen the opposition from former President Fujimoris supporters in parliament, President Kuczynski grants President Fujimori – a medical pardon, he explains. Fujimori asks for forgiveness and promises to support President Kuczynskis reconciliation.
After 21 months as President, Kuczynski resigns after attempts to bribe for stopping impeachment. Vice President Martín Vizcarra – who was elected for the same party as Kuczynski – takes over the presidency. He too, solemnly promises to fight corruption.
In 2018, President Fujimori is imprisoned again.
In July-August 2018, journalists uncover power abuse among the top in Perus judicial system.
(pp. 476-480 in volume 2, reproduced without notes and illustrations):
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO AZTECS AND INCAS: MYTHS AND STORIES FROM MEXICO AND PERU. Edited, translated, retold and commented by Mikael Witte. Volume 1 + Volume 2
476 pages + 540 pages. Richly illustrated in colors
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