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Martín Santiváñez Vivanco , researcher of the Navarra Center for International Development , University of Navarra

Humala, the all-round warrior

Mon, 30 Jan 2012 16:24:03 +0000 Published in The World

President Ollanta Humala's successful road show in Europe is based on the splendid moment that the Peruvian Economics is going through. The macroeconomic indicators of the Andean country are unsurpassable. In 2010, Peru received 20,781 million dollars in foreign direct investment and GDP grew by 7%. After two decades of stability and fiscal surplus, Peru maintains its commitment to openness, free trade agreements and global geo-economics. It is the best destination for investment in South America.

Humala maintains that he is "neither right-wing nor left-wing, but quite the opposite". A few days ago, a lobbyist for the written press recalled the Quechua meaning of the name Ollanta: "all-seeing warrior". The truth is that Humala, after his pragmatic metamorphosis, has been transformed into "the warrior who is everything". The president "is" whatever is most convenient for the government. He leans on the right and on class average , keeps some left-wing cadres in his pay (such as Chancellor Roncagliolo, former defender of the Velasco dictatorship), controls the military and has made a pact with the oligarchic frond, embracing the Phoenician spirit that he fought so hard against.

Should we support Humala in this change of course? Yes, but with realism. The model must be improved to fight poverty, the great pending war. However, it is naïve and dangerous to affirm that all Peruvian conquests are irreversible and that "the warrior who is everything" will follow the set course because there is no way back. To sustain the myth of the indefinite progress of humanity is part of the old positivist imaginary. The demo-liberal messianism of "The End of History and the Last Man" makes the same mistake. In Violence and Social Orders, Douglass C. North (award Nobel), John Joseph Wallis and Barry R. Weingast, remind us that open societies can devolve and become, once again, Natural States. Nothing is forever in politics. Even less so when it comes to Humala.

Therefore, support must be fair and punctual. It is necessary to keep a critical distance before an unpredictable leadership that can consolidate in the orthodox path or degenerate. It is one thing to have realistic confidence in Humala's presidency and quite another to become a political propagandist for his regime, whether for economic motives or intellectual idealism. His persistent ambivalence is reflected, for example, in the topic of corruption. The recent Withdrawal and the political shielding of Vice President Chehade, the private tour of Humala's brother in Russia, the appointments of friends and relatives to positions core topic and the scandals involving obscure government officials are obvious signs of a double speech. At least on this point, Humala prolongs the nefarious behavior of his predecessors. Throughout Latin American history, corrupt praxis has been able to coexist with the opening of markets and the approval of populist caudillos. If Humala intends, as he said in Madrid and Davos, to carry out "the great transformation" against all odds, then it is not enough to prolong a model that he inherited from Alan García, Alejandro Toledo and Alberto Fujimori. It is necessary to fight against corruption without falling into the clientelism that has caused so much damage in Latin America. Otherwise, social mobilizations will threaten the State. "The warrior who is everything" has obvious support and has enough political capital to start the battle. We will soon see if he is able to win.