[Marxism] Ollanta Humala

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Apr 2 11:56:27 MDT 2006

(I am inclined to back Humala to the hilt for no other reason that he has 
gotten Mario Vargas Llosa's dander up.)

NY Times, April 2, 2006
Nationalism and Populism Propel Front-Runner in Peru

MOQUEGUA, Peru, March 28 — In a presidential campaign filled with 
symbolism, the front-runner here found a perfect image for his 
hard-charging crusade: on Tuesday, he jumped on a chestnut mare and, with 
his followers sprinting behind him, galloped to the central plaza to 
promise to revolutionize this Andean country.

The candidate is Ollanta Humala, 43, who was seeking to evoke the image of 
the authoritarian man on horseback known as the caudillo. He says that if 
elected on April 9, he will waste no time before cracking down on the 
multinationals he says cheat citizens and arresting the crooked politicians 
he says have plundered Peru. As the leader of the newly formed Nationalist 
Party, he also says he will ally himself with President Hugo Chávez of 
Venezuela, who wants to form a bulwark against the Bush administration.

Mr. Humala, whose first name means "warrior who sees all," is as populist 
as they come on a continent that has been swept by leftist leaders mining 
popular discontent with free-market policies and suspicions of the United 
States. His antiglobalization stance and talk of transforming the economy 
provoke fear in the entrepreneurial class; the stock market suffered its 
biggest tumble in five years when he rose in the polls.

But his message — Peruvians first — is compelling to many in this country 
of 27 million.

"We nationalists are going to found a new country," said Mr. Humala, a wiry 
man with close-cropped hair who campaigns in a red T-shirt that says "Love 
for Peru."

"Who is afraid of change?" he said. "Are the people afraid of change? No! 
Those who are afraid are the ones in power because they know if the 
nationalists get to power, Peru will change."

It is a simple, scripted message from which he rarely deviates, repeating 
it to reporters and his growing following, with little elaboration. The 
polls show it is working. His approval rating, 11 percent in November, has 
grown to 33 percent, putting him ahead of Lourdes Flores, a former member 
of Congress who stands at 27 percent, and Alan García, a former president 
whose administration from 1985 to 1990 left Peru a shambles, now at 22 percent.

Mr. Humala says he hopes that voters in Andean villages, where his support 
is strong, will help give him more than 50 percent of the votes so he can 
avoid a runoff.

"He's with the people," said Victor Herrera, 40, who was among the 
thousands who followed Mr. Humala on his recent swing through this arid 
desert in southern Peru. "He's not like the other candidates, who are with 
the big businessmen."

Though Mr. Humala wants to be thought of as another in a long line of 
leftist leaders to surge in Latin America, his background is a far cry from 
that of President Evo Morales of Bolivia, President Luiz Inácio Lula da 
Silva of Brazil or Mr. Chávez, who all grew up poor and spent years 
building social movements.

Rather, he attended an elite private school in Lima, served in the army, 
which has been criticized for widespread rights abuses, and studied in France.

Mr. Humala's father, Isaac, founded an ultranationalist movement, 
etnocacerismo, named after a 19th-century military hero. It speaks of the 
superiority of the Indian race over those descended from the Spanish, 
advocates revenge by Indians and mixed-blood Peruvians against the 
descendants of the Spanish and includes ideas like sentencing corrupt 
officials to death and closing the borders.

His mother said homosexuals should be shot so "there is not so much 
immorality in the streets." A brother, Antauro, a former army officer, led 
an attack by 150 army reservists on a police station last year, killing 
four officers. He was demanding the resignation of President Alejandro 
Toledo. A thousand soldiers retook the station and arrested Antauro, who 
remains in custody. Another brother, Ulises, considered by the family to be 
the standard bearer for etnocacerismo, is also running for president as a 
candidate of a fringe party, leading to a split with Ollanta.

Mr. Humala was part of his father's movement, and he and Antauro led a 
military uprising in 2000 during the last days of President Alberto 
Fujimori's quasi-dictatorship. "It's very hard to decide where Antauro ends 
and Ollanta begins," said Cynthia McClintock, a Peru specialist at George 
Washington University. "Humala was clearly once in that movement, and the 
overtones of racism and militarism are certainly very worrisome to people 
who think of themselves as on the left."

But in an interview, Mr. Humala said he had distanced himself from his 
relatives. "They are free to express ideas, but I reject them," he said. 
"My family is the people. The Humalas come second."

As he bounds across a stage like a talk show host, declaring his love for 
Peru, he comes across as a fierce nationalist ready to battle the affluent 
and anyone who opposes him.

He offers little detail about his plans, though he pledges to "build an 
alternative model to this neo-liberal model." The economy may have grown an 
average of 5 percent a year since Mr. Toledo took office in 2001, but 
economists say it has failed to produce prosperity for average Peruvians, 
leaving many discontent and searching for another path.

"The economic model is finished, it hasn't been the country's economic 
needs," Mr. Humala said. "There's been growth, but no development."

He accuses the multinational mining companies that drive the economy of 
having obtained sweetheart contracts, and he promises to squeeze them. He 
has criticized Peru's free trade agreement with the United States, 
suggesting that he would scrap it. And he says he would rewrite the 
Constitution, which he says favors foreign capital. Instead, he said, he 
wanted the government to get involved in some private projects, like the 
Camisea natural gas development.

Such talk worries the private business sector. "If he wins the election, I 
would predict a certain amount of capital flight and a fall in the stock 
market," said Fritz Du Bois, director of the Peruvian Economic Institute, a 
free-market policy analysis group.

Mr. Humala, however, relishes the conflict with industry, saying, "Our 
motherland is not for sale." Still, he is not seen by everyone as the 
selfless man of the people he paints himself to be. His credibility has 
been challenged by some of the same people he professes to represent — the 
highland Indians who suffered most in Peru's war with the fanatical Shining 
Path rebel group.

In the interview, Mr. Humala laughed nervously when asked about accusations 
that he killed peasants in the early 1990's when he commanded an army base 
in the conflict-torn Upper Huallaga Valley. A handful of families have 
filed criminal complaints against Mr. Humala, saying he committed 
atrocities, from "disappearing" their relatives to torture.

Mr. Humala, who retired from the army in 2004 as a lieutenant colonel, 
calls the allegations part of a smear campaign sponsored by rivals and "the 
elitist sectors who handle human rights themes."

"I have not violated human rights," he said. "This is coming out in the 
context of Ollanta Humala being the No. 1 candidate nationally."

Indeed, Mr. Humala's popularity has not been hurt by the accusations, 
prompting Mario Vargas Llosa, Peru's most famous author, to question the 
direction of the country's politics. "What is happening in the country for 
such political, moral and cultural blindness to take hold?" Mr. Vargas 
Llosa, who lives in Spain, said on a recent trip to Peru. "Maintain 
democracy or go to dictatorship: that is what is at play in these elections."

A recent United Nations study of Peruvian opinions found that 73.5 percent 
of respondents believed that the country needed an authoritarian 
government. Mr. Humala seems to offer that kind of leadership.

"We've lost our morals, and Ollanta, with his army background, is the right 
person for the job," said Francisco Carvajal, 50, a laborer in Ilo, another 
campaign stop. "I'd like to see him as president. The ones we've had have 
been liars and thieves."

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