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FTR#1177 The Jakarta Method in Latin America

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FTR #1177 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

Intro­duc­tion: With the esca­lat­ing rhetoric and impo­si­tion of sanc­tions for Chi­na’s alleged geno­cide against the Uighurs in Xin­jiang province, it is valu­able to recall Amer­i­can-assist­ed atroc­i­ties dur­ing the Cold War.

In numer­ous pro­grams, we have high­light­ed whole­sale slaugh­ter in Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries, imple­ment­ed by fas­cists oper­at­ing in an inter­na­tion­al con­stel­la­tion coa­lesc­ing around the USA.

That con­stel­la­tion was termed the Inter­na­tion­al Fascista (or “Fas­cist Inter­na­tion­al”) by Hen­rik Krueger, and is detailed in, among oth­er pro­grams, AFA #‘s 4, 19and 22.

In addi­tion, the role of the for­mer World Anti-Com­mu­nist League in the death squad activ­i­ty in Cen­tral Amer­i­ca was set forth in AFA #15

In FTR#839, we pre­sent­ed Peter Lev­en­da’s account of his vis­it to Colo­nia Dig­nidad in Chile–a Nazi encamp­ment that served as an oper­a­tional epi­cen­ter for Oper­a­tion Con­dor, a CIA-assist­ed mass mur­der con­sor­tium com­posed of Latin Amer­i­can nations.

The essence of the Con­dor pro­gram was summed up by Argen­tin­ian Gen­er­al Anto­nio Domin­go. (“Sub­ver­sives” were killed for real or alleged: com­mu­nism, athe­ism, Jew­ish­ness or union activ­i­ties.) “. . . . First, we will kill all the sub­ver­sives, then we will kill all of their col­lab­o­ra­tors, then those who sym­pa­thize with the sub­ver­sives, then we kill those that remain indif­fer­ent, and final­ly we kill the timid. . . .”

A very, very impor­tant and superbly writ­ten and doc­u­ment­ed new book–The Jakar­ta Method: Wash­ing­ton’s Anti­com­mu­nist Cru­sade & the Mass Mur­der Pro­gram that Shaped Our World by Vin­cent Bevinschron­i­cles the slaugh­ter that the U.S. imple­ment­ed in the devel­op­ing world dur­ing the Cold War.

Lis­ten­ers are emphat­i­cal­ly encour­aged to pur­chase and read the book.

Key Points of Dis­cus­sion and Analy­sis Include: Review of the oper­a­tional fun­da­men­tals of Oper­a­tion Con­dor; the role of Colo­nia Dig­nidad as an epi­cen­ter of Con­dor activ­i­ties; the 1976 Argen­tin­ian coup; the so-called “Dirty War” that fol­lowed that coup; the role in the Dirty War of Argen­tin­ian mem­bers of the P‑2 Lodge (Admi­ral Emilio Massera, Jose Lopez Rega); the assis­tance giv­en by Ford Motor Com­pa­ny and Citibank in the mur­der of Argen­tin­ian union orga­niz­ers; col­lab­o­ra­tion of the Argen­tin­ian and oth­er Con­dor par­tic­i­pants with the fas­cist “Stay Behind” armies set up by Frank Wis­ner; the assas­si­na­tion of Orlan­do Lete­lier in Wash­ing­ton D.C.; The close rela­tion­ship between the coun­tries of Cen­tral Amer­i­ca; the accel­er­a­tion in the 1960’s of the ter­ror that had gripped Guatemala since the 1954 over­throw of Jacobo Arbenz; how the elim­i­na­tion of peace­ful, pro-democ­ra­cy activists and activism fed the growth of gueril­la move­ments; the birth of the “White Hand” death squad; assis­tance giv­en to the death squads by U.S. Green Berets; the prac­tice of “dis­ap­pear­ing” per­ceived polit­i­cal ene­mies or dis­si­dents to ter­ror­ize their asso­ciates; the ini­ti­a­tion of whole­sale exter­mi­na­tion of large pop­u­la­tions of indige­nous peo­ple; the ner­vous­ness and inse­cu­ri­ty felt by the Guatemalan dic­ta­tor­ship fol­low­ing the ascent of the San­din­istas in Nicaragua; Pres­i­dent Carter’s tamp­ing down of U.S. assis­tance to Cen­tral Amer­i­can dic­ta­tor­ships; the piv­ot­ing of those dic­ta­tor­ships to gain­ing mil­i­tary aid and train­ing from Israel and Tai­wan; the train­ing of the Con­tra rebels in Nicaragua by Argen­tine mil­i­tary death squad vet­er­ans; net­work­ing of Cen­tral Amer­i­can death squad per­son­nel with Con­dor oper­a­tives in Franco’s Spain; Rober­to D’Aubisson’s ascent in El Sal­vador; the assas­si­na­tion of Sal­vado­ran Arch­bish­op Romero; the mas­sacre of over 900 res­i­dents of the El Sal­vado­ran vil­lage of El Mozote; Ronald Reagan’s appoint­ment of Elliot Abrams as Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for Human Rights; Abrams’ char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of The New York Times’ reportage on the El Mozote as “com­mu­nist pro­pa­gan­da;” the role of The School of the Amer­i­c­as in the train­ing of death squads; the mil­i­tary coup that brought Evan­gel­i­cal Chris­t­ian Efrain Rios Montt to pow­er in Guatemala; Rios Montt’s spe­cial affin­i­ty with Ronald Rea­gan; Rios Montt’s imple­men­ta­tion of so-called “Mod­el Vil­lages;” the sys­tem­at­ic destruc­tion of the Guatemalan town of Ilom—part of the geno­ci­dal pro­gram enact­ed by the Guatemalan gov­ern­ment against the indige­nous Mayan pop­u­la­tion (termed geno­cide by Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al).

The pro­gram con­cludes with a pre­sen­ta­tion of the points of view of the Guatemalan sur­vivors of the liq­ui­da­tion cam­paigns, per­haps most expres­sive­ly com­mu­ni­cat­ed by one Domin­go: “ . . . . I asked them what com­mu­nism was. Domin­go, the own­er of the bus, had this answer: ‘Well, they said they were com­mu­nists and com­mu­nists were dan­ger­ous. But actu­al­ly, the gov­ern­ment are the ones who did all the killing. So if any­one was dan­ger­ous, if any­one was ‘com­mu­nist,’ it must be them. . . .’”

1.  The Jakar­ta Method: Washington’s Anti­com­mu­nist Cru­sade & The Mass Mur­der Pro­gram that Shaped Our World by Vin­cent Bevins; Pub­lic Affairs Books [HC]; Copy­right 2020 by Vin­cent Bevins; ISBN 978–1‑5417–4240‑6; pp. 214–216.

Key Points of Dis­cus­sion and Analy­sis Include: Review of the oper­a­tional fun­da­men­tals of Oper­a­tion Con­dor; the role of Colo­nia Dig­nidad as an epi­cen­ter of Con­dor activ­i­ties; the 1976 Argen­tin­ian coup; the so-called “Dirty War” that fol­lowed that coup; the role in the Dirty War of Argen­tin­ian mem­bers of the P‑2 Lodge (Admi­ral Emilio Massera, Jose Lopez Rega); the assis­tance giv­en by Ford Motor Com­pa­ny and Citibank in the mur­der of Argen­tin­ian union orga­niz­ers; col­lab­o­ra­tion of the Argen­tin­ian and oth­er Con­dor par­tic­i­pants with the fas­cist “Stay Behind” armies set up by Frank Wis­ner; the assas­si­na­tion of Orlan­do Lete­lier in Wash­ing­ton D.C.

The essence of the Argen­tin­ian mur­der pro­gram was summed up by Gen­er­al Anto­nio Domin­go. (“Sub­ver­sives” were killed for real or alleged: com­mu­nism, athe­ism, Jew­ish­ness or union activ­i­ties.) “. . . . First, we will kill all the sub­ver­sives, then we will kill all of their col­lab­o­ra­tors, then those who sym­pa­thize with the sub­ver­sives, then we kill those that remain indif­fer­ent, and final­ly we kill the timid. . . .”

 2.  The Jakar­ta Method: Washington’s Anti­com­mu­nist Cru­sade & The Mass Mur­der Pro­gram that Shaped Our World by Vin­cent Bevins; Pub­lic Affairs Books [HC]; Copy­right 2020 by Vin­cent Bevins; ISBN 978–1‑5417–4240‑6; pp. 217–220.

Key Points of Dis­cus­sion and Analy­sis Include: The close rela­tion­ship between the coun­tries of Cen­tral Amer­i­ca; the accel­er­a­tion in the 1960’s of the ter­ror that had gripped Guatemala since the 1954 over­throw of Jacobo Arbenz; how the elim­i­na­tion of peace­ful, pro-democ­ra­cy activists and activism fed the growth of gueril­la move­ments; the birth of the “White Hand” death squad; assis­tance giv­en to the death squads by U.S. Green Berets; the prac­tice of “dis­ap­pear­ing” per­ceived polit­i­cal ene­mies or dis­si­dents to ter­ror­ize their asso­ciates; the ini­ti­a­tion of whole­sale exter­mi­na­tion of large pop­u­la­tions of indige­nous peo­ple; the ner­vous­ness and inse­cu­ri­ty felt by the Guatemalan dic­ta­tor­ship fol­low­ing the ascent of the San­din­istas in Nicaragua.

3.   The Jakar­ta Method: Washington’s Anti­com­mu­nist Cru­sade & The Mass Mur­der Pro­gram that Shaped Our World by Vin­cent Bevins; Pub­lic Affairs Books [HC]; Copy­right 2020 by Vin­cent Bevins; ISBN 978–1‑5417–4240‑6; pp. 221–228.

Key Points of Dis­cus­sion and Analy­sis Include: Pres­i­dent Carter’s tamp­ing down of U.S. assis­tance to Cen­tral Amer­i­can dic­ta­tor­ships; the piv­ot­ing of those dic­ta­tor­ships to gain­ing mil­i­tary aid and train­ing from Israel and Tai­wan; the train­ing of the Con­tra rebels in Nicaragua by Argen­tine mil­i­tary death squad vet­er­ans; net­work­ing of Cen­tral Amer­i­can death squad per­son­nel with Con­dor oper­a­tives in Franco’s Spain; Rober­to D’Aubisson’s ascent in El Sal­vador; the assas­si­na­tion of Sal­vado­ran Arch­bish­op Romero; the mas­sacre of over 900 res­i­dents of the El Sal­vado­ran vil­lage of El Mozote; Ronald Reagan’s appoint­ment of Elliot Abrams as Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for Human Rights; Abrams’ char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of The New York Times’ reportage on the El Mozote as “com­mu­nist pro­pa­gan­da;” the role of The School of the Amer­i­c­as in the train­ing of death squads; the mil­i­tary coup that brought Evan­gel­i­cal Chris­t­ian Efrain Rios Montt to pow­er in Guatemala; Rios Montt’s spe­cial affin­i­ty with Ronald Rea­gan; Rios Montt’s imple­men­ta­tion of so-called “Mod­el Vil­lages;” the sys­tem­at­ic destruc­tion of the Guatemalan town of Ilom—part of the geno­ci­dal pro­gram enact­ed by the Guatemalan gov­ern­ment against the indige­nous Mayan pop­u­la­tion (termed geno­cide by Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al).

 4. The Jakar­ta Method: Washington’s Anti­com­mu­nist Cru­sade & The Mass Mur­der Pro­gram that Shaped Our World by Vin­cent Bevins; Pub­lic Affairs Books [HC]; Copy­right 2020 by Vin­cent Bevins; ISBN 978–1‑5417–4240‑6; p. 257.

Key Points of Dis­cus­sion and Analy­sis Include: The points of view of the Guatemalan sur­vivors of the liq­ui­da­tion cam­paigns, per­haps most expres­sive­ly com­mu­ni­cat­ed by one Domin­go: “ . . . . I asked them what com­mu­nism was. Domin­go, the own­er of the bus, had this answer: ‘Well, they said they were com­mu­nists and com­mu­nists were dan­ger­ous. But actu­al­ly, the gov­ern­ment are the ones who did all the killing. So if any­one was dan­ger­ous, if any­one was ‘com­mu­nist,’ it must be them. . . .’”

 

 

 

Discussion

2 comments for “FTR#1177 The Jakarta Method in Latin America”

  1. It’s look­ing like anoth­er Latin Amer­i­can coun­try could be in store for anoth­er round of the “Jakar­ta Method”:

    Peru is head­ing towards a runoff in its pres­i­den­tial elec­tion fol­low­ing the sur­prise first place fin­ish of Pedro Castil­lo, the left­ist can­di­date that was large­ly ignored by the nation­al media until a week before the elec­tion. Castil­lo was run­ning at 6 per­cent in the polls a week before the elec­tion and fin­ished with over 18 per­cent of the vote. So Castil­lo expe­ri­enced a remark­able last minute surge, with Keiko Fuji­mori, the right-wing daugh­ter of dis­graced for­mer pres­i­dent Alber­to Fuji­mori, appear­ing to come in sec­ond place. Fuji­mori also hap­pened to score the high­est neg­a­tives in the race, with 65% of vot­ers hold­ing a neg­a­tive view of her in a recent poll. And yet it sounds like this runoff could be the best chance the deeply unpop­u­lar Fuji­mori has for win­ning the pres­i­den­cy, with the fear of left­ism dri­ving vot­ers who would oth­er­wise nev­er con­sid­er anoth­er vote for a Fuji­mori. Might those deep-seat­ed fears of a left­ist pres­i­dent be shared by oth­er gov­ern­ments in the region? The US per­haps? We’ll see. But that’s the new sit­u­a­tion that just erupt­ed in Peru: democ­ra­cy is once again threat­en­ing to get in the way of the far right’s grip on Latin Amer­i­ca and some­thing will have to be done about it:

    The New York Times

    Peru Elec­tion for the 5th Pres­i­dent in 5 Years Goes to Runoff

    Pedro Castil­lo, a far-left for­mer union activist and teacher, is lead­ing, accord­ing to elec­tion offi­cials.

    By Mitra Taj
    April 12, 2021

    LIMA, Peru — Peru’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is head­ed for a runoff, with Pedro Castil­lo, a far-left for­mer union activist and teacher, in the lead, accord­ing to data released Mon­day by the country’s elec­toral body.

    He will like­ly face a right-wing can­di­date in a sec­ond round of vot­ing in June.

    Mr. Castil­lo, a social con­ser­v­a­tive, was one of 18 can­di­dates, and tapped into a wave of anti-estab­lish­ment sen­ti­ment in an elec­tion char­ac­ter­ized by wide­spread frus­tra­tion with the polit­i­cal sys­tem.

    He is like­ly head­ed into a runoff with Keiko Fuji­mori, the daugh­ter of the jailed for­mer author­i­tar­i­an leader Alber­to Fuji­mori, accord­ing to a sur­vey of elec­toral tal­lies by the firm Ipsos for a local tele­vi­sion chan­nel. Trail­ing behind Ms. Fuji­mori is an ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive, Rafael López Alia­ga.

    Either pair­ing would set the stage for a high­ly polar­ized sec­ond-round elec­tion, the results of which could steer the coun­try in rad­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent direc­tions.

    “This is the vote of a coun­try tired, depressed, frus­trat­ed, and also fed up,” Fer­nan­do Tues­ta, a Peru­vian polit­i­cal ana­lyst, said in a state­ment on Mon­day.

    The elec­tion comes at a low point for Peru. Over the last five years, the coun­try cycled through four pres­i­dents and two Con­gress­es and wit­nessed repeat­ed clash­es between the leg­isla­tive and exec­u­tive branch­es.

    Three for­mer pres­i­dents have spent time in jail dur­ing bribery inves­ti­ga­tions, includ­ing one can­di­date in this year’s elec­tion; a fourth killed him­self to avoid arrest; and a fifth, Martín Viz­car­ra, one of the most pop­u­lar recent lead­ers, was impeached in Novem­ber.

    His replace­ment, who last­ed less than a week in office, is under inves­ti­ga­tion in con­nec­tion with the fatal shoot­ings of two young men at protests, which led to his res­ig­na­tion.

    With 84 per­cent of the votes tal­lied, Mr. Castil­lo was lead­ing with 18.5 per­cent of the vote on Mon­day after­noon, more than five points ahead of his clos­est rival.

    Mr. Castil­lo, 51, wants to nation­al­ize the country’s nat­ur­al resources to help pay for invest­ments in health care and edu­ca­tion; promis­es to have a top court elect­ed by pop­u­lar man­date; and is propos­ing a new con­sti­tu­tion to favor ordi­nary Peru­vians and not busi­ness inter­ests.

    In the run-up to the elec­tion, Mr. Castil­lo drew large crowds in rur­al towns, but did not receive broad cov­er­age from nation­al media out­lets until polls showed him surg­ing to around 6 per­cent a week before the elec­tion.

    He cel­e­brat­ed his sur­prise vic­to­ry from the pover­ty-strick­en high­land region of Caja­mar­ca, where as a youth he was part of the peas­ant secu­ri­ty patrol that enforces local laws and cus­toms.

    “The blind­fold has just been tak­en off the eyes of the Peru­vian peo­ple,” Mr. Castil­lo told throngs of sup­port­ers in Caja­mar­ca on Sun­day night, wear­ing the wide-brimmed hat of farm­ers in the region.

    “We’re often told that only polit­i­cal sci­en­tists, con­sti­tu­tion­al­ists, eru­dite politi­cians, those with grand degrees can gov­ern a coun­try,” he said. “They’ve had time enough.”

    Ms. Fuji­mori, who is mak­ing her third bid for pres­i­dent, has been jailed three times in recent years in con­nec­tion with an ongo­ing mon­ey laun­der­ing probe. In this elec­tion, she vowed to stop pan­dem­ic lock­downs and crack down on crime.

    ...

    ———–

    “Peru Elec­tion for the 5th Pres­i­dent in 5 Years Goes to Runoff” by Mitra Taj; The New York Times; 04/12/2021

    “Mr. Castil­lo, 51, wants to nation­al­ize the country’s nat­ur­al resources to help pay for invest­ments in health care and edu­ca­tion; promis­es to have a top court elect­ed by pop­u­lar man­date; and is propos­ing a new con­sti­tu­tion to favor ordi­nary Peru­vians and not busi­ness inter­ests.”

    The guy wants to nation­al­ize the coun­try’s nat­ur­al resources to help pay for invest­ments in health care and edu­ca­tion. He obvi­ous­ly presents a mor­tal threat to the soci­ety. At least that’s how Castil­lo’s agen­da is undoubt­ed­ly going to be per­ceived in gov­ern­ment offices and cor­po­rate board­rooms around the world. Some­thing will have to be done to pre­vent his vic­to­ry:

    ...
    With 84 per­cent of the votes tal­lied, Mr. Castil­lo was lead­ing with 18.5 per­cent of the vote on Mon­day after­noon, more than five points ahead of his clos­est rival.

    ...

    In the run-up to the elec­tion, Mr. Castil­lo drew large crowds in rur­al towns, but did not receive broad cov­er­age from nation­al media out­lets until polls showed him surg­ing to around 6 per­cent a week before the elec­tion.

    He cel­e­brat­ed his sur­prise vic­to­ry from the pover­ty-strick­en high­land region of Caja­mar­ca, where as a youth he was part of the peas­ant secu­ri­ty patrol that enforces local laws and cus­toms.
    ...

    A whole lot of Peru­vians obvi­ous­ly liked what they saw in Castil­lo. His sup­port tripled in the last week of the cam­paign. And you can’t say his sup­port was root­ed in pro­gres­sive social poli­cies. As the fol­low­ing arti­cle notes, Castil­lo is actu­al­ly a social con­ser­v­a­tive who oppos­es abor­tion, same-sex mar­riage, and gen­der per­spec­tive at school, which adds some con­text to his work as a youth as part of the peas­ant secu­ri­ty patrol that enforces local laws and cus­toms.

    It’s part of what’s going to make the inevitable full-spec­trum attacks on Castil­lo so inter­est­ing: he does­n’t fit into the stan­dard far right cook­ie-cut­ter nar­ra­tive that’s been used to such suc­cess else­where that has relied on gross mis­char­ac­ter­i­za­tions of pro­gres­sive social val­ues. Like in Brazil, where Jair Bol­sonaro’s far right sup­port­ers suc­ceed­ed in shoring up Bol­sonaro’s sup­port through vicious social media cam­paigns focused equat­ing left-wing poli­cies to some sort of devi­ous agen­da of fem­i­nism and homo­sex­u­al­i­ty. The pol­i­tics of hate works across class. Stud­ies even found that the army of Bol­sonaro sup­port­ers broke down into dif­fer­ent broad cat­e­gories, that includ­ed the “social suprema­cists” who cared about noth­ing Bol­sonaro did as long as he was attack­ing groups like women and the LGBTQ com­mu­ni­ty. What’s going to hap­pen when the left-wing can­di­date is pure­ly left-wing when it comes to eco­nom­ics and is already deeply social­ly con­ser­v­a­tive? How will Castil­lo’s social con­ser­vatism impact not just the glob­al cam­paign against him but also his sup­port among the elec­torate? It’s not like Fuji­mori’s Pop­u­lar Force Par­ty is friend­ly to the LGBTQ com­mu­ni­ty. Instead, it’s look­ing like the polit­i­cal divide is urban vs rur­al and deeply eco­nom­ic in nature, although some of Castil­lo’s sup­port also appears to come from resent of the indige­nous pop­u­la­tions against the Euro­pean-descend­ed pop­u­la­tion of Lima, which going to be a mix of eco­nom­ic and social griev­ances. So it’s look­ing like Peru has a surg­ing left-wing move­ment that could end up defy­ing the kind of polit­i­cal blunt force that’s proven to be effec­tive in past, but it’s not clear those tac­tics will work this time around. New awful tac­tics might be required:

    El Pais

    Peru heads towards pres­i­den­tial runoff after vote gives sur­prise lead to Pedro Castil­lo

    Inés San­taeu­lalia
    Jacque­line Fowks
    Lima — 12 Apr 2021 — 11:19 CDT

    Anoth­er Peru spoke up on Sun­day at the first round of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion – a Peru that is not made up of sophis­ti­cat­ed cap­i­tal dwellers hooked on Twit­ter, and one that was get­ting very lit­tle atten­tion dur­ing the cam­paign.

    Yet this oth­er Peru has man­aged to push a long-shot can­di­date to the top of the pres­i­den­tial race: the rad­i­cal left-wing school­teacher and union leader Pedro Castil­lo was the most-vot­ed con­tender on Sun­day with 18.1% of the votes, accord­ing to an ear­ly quick count by a polling firm whose results were released in the ear­ly hours of Mon­day.

    The same poll placed the con­ser­v­a­tive Keiko Fuji­mori, daugh­ter of for­mer pres­i­dent Alber­to Fuji­mori, in sec­ond place with 14,5% of the votes. If these fig­ures are con­firmed, the coun­try will head towards a June runoff between two can­di­dates whose chances seemed slim just a few weeks ago. Anoth­er con­ser­v­a­tive nom­i­nee, Her­nan­do de Soto, is close on Fujimori’s heels for sec­ond spot and could over­take her by the time the offi­cial count is over.

    Castil­lo rode a horse to his vot­ing sta­tion in Cho­ta (Caja­mar­ca), locat­ed 1,000 kilo­me­ters from Lima. In the cap­i­tal, this can­di­date comes across as an out­landish fig­ure, but in the cen­tral and south­ern regions of the coun­try there is sig­nif­i­cant sup­port for him. This is reflect­ed in the vot­ing: accord­ing to the poll, bare­ly 5% of vot­ers in Lima – which is home to a quar­ter of Peru’s 32.5 mil­lion cit­i­zens – backed Castillo’s Perú Libre (Free Peru) par­ty. But in some of the country’s poor­est regions, sup­port was in excess of 50%.

    Lima against the regions

    The runoff will thus become a bat­tle between Lima and the regions. “The peo­ple are wise, the peo­ple under­stand, I am com­mit­ted to the peo­ple who came out today to the polls to reflect this demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly,” said Castil­lo in state­ments to reporters after the ear­ly count was released. Hun­dreds of peo­ple cel­e­brat­ed all around him as though the coro­n­avirus were a thing of the past.

    The vote has once again evi­denced the pro­found ter­ri­to­r­i­al and social cleav­ages in Peru. “I am very anx­ious about the fact that a far-left can­di­date might go to the runoff,” said Julia Val­divia, 34, stand­ing out­side a school in the upper-class neigh­bor­hood of Miraflo­res in Lima. “If that hap­pens and Keiko Fuji­mori is the oth­er can­di­date, I’ll be forced to vote for her, although I’ve nev­er want­ed to do that. But she would not sink Peru into stag­na­tion, while Castil­lo is going to destroy my coun­try.”

    Some 23 kilo­me­ters from there, in the dis­trict of Vil­la El Sal­vador, Ormil­da Yamaní stood in line with an emp­ty oxy­gen bot­tle in her hands out­side one of the city’s sale points. Her grand­moth­er, who caught Covid-19 three weeks ago, has such low sat­u­ra­tion in the blood that she requires addi­tion­al oxy­gen 24 hours a day. Yamaní comes here twice a day to fill up the bot­tle. “Some­times I arrive at 7pm and I don’t get to the front of the line before 10am,” she explained.

    On Sun­day, between com­ings and goings with the heavy bot­tle, she found some time to go vote for Castil­lo. “I think he has good pro­pos­als for edu­ca­tion,” she said. The sus­pen­sion of in-per­son class­es since March 2020 due to the pan­dem­ic has most­ly affect­ed low-income fam­i­lies.

    A few meters from this spot, in the heart of this work­ing-class dis­trict of the cap­i­tal, dozens of peo­ple stood in line on Sun­day to vote at the pub­lic school Príncipe de Asturias. María, a 36-year-old house­wife, said she vot­ed “for who­ev­er” because no can­di­date ful­ly con­vinced her. Jorge, 29, who works in cell­phone sales, vot­ed for the con­ser­v­a­tive Her­nan­do de Soto “because of his knowl­edge and because he said that the price of [the Covid] vac­cine would be acces­si­ble for those who don’t have it,” allud­ing to De Soto’s pro­pos­al to make the pri­vate sec­tor pur­chase dos­es.

    ...

    Peru­vians went to vote at the height of the pan­dem­ic in that coun­try, which is see­ing a peak of over 380 dai­ly deaths accord­ing to the offi­cial count, although this fig­ure prob­a­bly does not take into account peo­ple like Egusquiza’s cousin, who died at home. The dri­ver said he was going to vote but that he was plan­ning to delib­er­ate­ly check too many box­es in order to inval­i­date his bal­lot.

    The polit­i­cal sci­en­tist José Incio explained in a tele­phone inter­view that in such a frag­ment­ed elec­tion, Pedro Castil­lo is attract­ing vot­ers “who are not adverse to risk, who want some­thing dif­fer­ent and who hope to find a solu­tion to spe­cif­ic needs that the cur­rent sys­tem has failed to help them out with.” Incio also believes Castillo’s sucess rests on his defense of a dif­fer­ent iden­ti­ty for Peru than the one reflect­ed in the media. “If an alien land­ed in Peru right now and only watched tele­vi­sion, it might infer that all Peru­vians look like the ones on TV, who all seem half-Euro­pean, but that is not the case,” he notes.

    Castil­lo vs Fuji­mori?

    If the results of the quick count are con­firmed, Keiko Fuji­mori would go on to the runoff for the third elec­tion in a row. In 2011 she was defeat­ed by Ollan­ta Humala, and in 2016 by Pedro Pablo Kuczyn­s­ki. She is also the most wide­ly reject­ed can­di­date among vot­ers, accord­ing to the polls, which show a rejec­tion rate of 65% for her.

    But a sur­prise left-wing con­tender like Castil­lo could chan­nel all the con­ser­v­a­tive votes towards her, giv­ing Fuji­mori a fresh oppor­tu­ni­ty at a del­i­cate time as she bat­tles cor­rup­tion charges – pros­e­cu­tors want her to serve 30 years in prison for mon­ey laun­der­ing. After a high­ly frag­ment­ed vote in which none of the can­di­dates attract­ed 20% of the bal­lots, that small win­dow of oppor­tu­ni­ty could be just enough to turn Fuji­mori into the next pres­i­dent of Peru in June.

    Pedro Castil­lo Ter­rones, 51, was born in Caja­mar­ca, one of the poor­est regions of Peru despite being home to South America’s largest gold mine. A leader of a teach­ers’ union, since 1995 he has also been a school­teacher at School 10465, locat­ed in the vil­lage of Puña, in the north­ern Cho­ta province.

    A rad­i­cal left­ist, Castil­lo has pledged to replace the 1993 Con­sti­tu­tion, reg­u­late the media to “put an end to junk TV” and raise bud­get allo­ca­tions for edu­ca­tion and health­care. A social con­ser­v­a­tive, he has posi­tioned him­self against abor­tion, same-sex mar­riage, euthana­sia and gen­der per­spec­tive at school.

    ———–

    “Peru heads towards pres­i­den­tial runoff after vote gives sur­prise lead to Pedro Castil­lo” by Inés San­taeu­lalia and Jacque­line Fowks; El Pais; 04/12/2021

    “Castil­lo rode a horse to his vot­ing sta­tion in Cho­ta (Caja­mar­ca), locat­ed 1,000 kilo­me­ters from Lima. In the cap­i­tal, this can­di­date comes across as an out­landish fig­ure, but in the cen­tral and south­ern regions of the coun­try there is sig­nif­i­cant sup­port for him. This is reflect­ed in the vot­ing: accord­ing to the poll, bare­ly 5% of vot­ers in Lima – which is home to a quar­ter of Peru’s 32.5 mil­lion cit­i­zens – backed Castillo’s Perú Libre (Free Peru) par­ty. But in some of the country’s poor­est regions, sup­port was in excess of 50%.

    Will Castil­lo man­age to win the pres­i­den­cy with almost no sup­port in Lima? It’s look­ing pos­si­ble. But that’s almost why it’s pos­si­ble the seem­ing­ly impos­si­ble could hap­pen too: the most unpop­u­lar can­di­date in the race, Kieko Fuji­mori, just might win. Although note one of the oth­er can­di­dates who came in close behind Fuji­mori: Her­nan­do de Soto, the pri­va­ti­za­tion king. It’s a reminder that part of the rea­son Castil­lo came in first place is because the far right was split­ting the vote:

    ...
    The same poll placed the con­ser­v­a­tive Keiko Fuji­mori, daugh­ter of for­mer pres­i­dent Alber­to Fuji­mori, in sec­ond place with 14,5% of the votes. If these fig­ures are con­firmed, the coun­try will head towards a June runoff between two can­di­dates whose chances seemed slim just a few weeks ago. Anoth­er con­ser­v­a­tive nom­i­nee, Her­nan­do de Soto, is close on Fujimori’s heels for sec­ond spot and could over­take her by the time the offi­cial count is over.

    ...

    The vote has once again evi­denced the pro­found ter­ri­to­r­i­al and social cleav­ages in Peru. “I am very anx­ious about the fact that a far-left can­di­date might go to the runoff,” said Julia Val­divia, 34, stand­ing out­side a school in the upper-class neigh­bor­hood of Miraflo­res in Lima. “If that hap­pens and Keiko Fuji­mori is the oth­er can­di­date, I’ll be forced to vote for her, although I’ve nev­er want­ed to do that. But she would not sink Peru into stag­na­tion, while Castil­lo is going to destroy my coun­try.”

    ...

    If the results of the quick count are con­firmed, Keiko Fuji­mori would go on to the runoff for the third elec­tion in a row. In 2011 she was defeat­ed by Ollan­ta Humala, and in 2016 by Pedro Pablo Kuczyn­s­ki. She is also the most wide­ly reject­ed can­di­date among vot­ers, accord­ing to the polls, which show a rejec­tion rate of 65% for her.

    But a sur­prise left-wing con­tender like Castil­lo could chan­nel all the con­ser­v­a­tive votes towards her, giv­ing Fuji­mori a fresh oppor­tu­ni­ty at a del­i­cate time as she bat­tles cor­rup­tion charges – pros­e­cu­tors want her to serve 30 years in prison for mon­ey laun­der­ing. After a high­ly frag­ment­ed vote in which none of the can­di­dates attract­ed 20% of the bal­lots, that small win­dow of oppor­tu­ni­ty could be just enough to turn Fuji­mori into the next pres­i­dent of Peru in June.
    ...

    But if Fuji­mori is going to over­come that deep unpop­u­lar­i­ty, fear is her only real tool. And fan­ning the flames of hate-filled fears of fem­i­nism and LGBTQ rights is the kind of proven tac­tic we would nor­mal­ly expect some­one like Fuji­mori to deploy at this point. But that’s not real­ly an option against Castil­lo. The ‘cul­tur­al Marx­ism’ rhetor­i­cal assaults we’ve come to expect are going to have to be replaced with some­thing new. Or per­haps some­thing old: pure ‘com­mu­nism’ fear-mon­ger­ing about eco­nom­ics, because that’s all they’re going to have to work with. Castil­lo is a social right-winger:

    ...
    Pedro Castil­lo Ter­rones, 51, was born in Caja­mar­ca, one of the poor­est regions of Peru despite being home to South America’s largest gold mine. A leader of a teach­ers’ union, since 1995 he has also been a school­teacher at School 10465, locat­ed in the vil­lage of Puña, in the north­ern Cho­ta province.

    A rad­i­cal left­ist, Castil­lo has pledged to replace the 1993 Con­sti­tu­tion, reg­u­late the media to “put an end to junk TV” and raise bud­get allo­ca­tions for edu­ca­tion and health­care. A social con­ser­v­a­tive, he has posi­tioned him­self against abor­tion, same-sex mar­riage, euthana­sia and gen­der per­spec­tive at school.
    ...

    And that’s all part of what makes the elec­tion results in Peru so inter­est­ing. From an eco­nom­ic per­spec­tive, Castil­lo push­es all the but­tons of the dom­i­nant eco­nom­ic inter­est in that coun­try. Eco­nom­ic inter­ests that obvi­ous­ly aren’t going to be exclu­sive­ly Peru­vian. When a resource-rich coun­try like Peru looks like its about to elect some­one threat­en­ing to nation­al­ize those resources, peo­ple take notice all around the world. Very pow­er­ful peo­ple. All sorts of plans are prob­a­bly being hatched right now to help ensure Castil­lo does­n’t win the run-off.

    And yet the con­tem­po­rary right-wing polit­i­cal play­book all around the world has relied on focus­ing a social issues like abor­tion or LGBTQ rights in order to win over the sup­port of peo­ple who, from an eco­nom­ic per­spec­tive, have no inter­est in sup­port­ing the poli­cies of far right oli­garchs. The jux­ta­po­si­tion of social con­ser­vatism to social pro­gres­sivism has been a proven vital com­po­nent to the poten­tial suc­cess of right-wing politi­cians. But that play­book does­n’t apply in this sit­u­a­tion. What will the glob­al oli­garchy come up with to snuff this out? We’ll see, but some inno­va­tion in the polit­i­cal dark arts — dark arts that can con­vince a pop­u­lace to repeat­ed­ly slit its own throat — may be required.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 14, 2021, 3:22 pm
  2. Pres­i­dent Biden is sched­uled to give his first address to con­gress tonight. It’s a US tra­di­tion that has tak­en on a new lev­el of sym­bol­ic rel­e­vance fol­low­ing the Jan­u­ary 6th insur­rec­tion.

    And Biden’s speech, regard­less of its con­tent, will undoubt­ed­ly be fol­lowed by what could be con­sid­ered an infor­mal tra­di­tion for con­tem­poary Amer­i­ca: days of howl­ing from right-wing media about how Biden’s admin­is­tra­tion is actu­al­ly a secret­ly ani­mat­ed by Marx­ist ambi­tions to cap­ture and trans­form soci­ety.

    So it’s worth not­ing that, at this very moment, Peru actu­al­ly is expe­ri­enc­ing what could be con­sid­ered a gen­uine swing to the far left. Recall how recent polls showed social­ist can­di­date Pedro Castil­lo surg­ing from almost no sup­port into the lead posi­tion with over 18% sup­port. Well, that sup­port keeps surg­ing and Castil­lo’s lead has grown so large in recent weeks that his vic­to­ry is look­ing like a fore­gone con­clu­sion.

    Keep in mind that Castil­lo was wide­ly seen as the can­di­date who would be open to nation­al­iz­ing major nat­ur­al resource-based indus­tries like min­ing. So this sup­port sig­ni­fies what appears to be a very real shift in Peru­vian pub­lic sen­ti­ments, at least when it comes to the ‘free mar­ket’ eco­nom­ic poli­cies that have dom­i­nat­ed the coun­try in recent decades.

    Inter­est­ing­ly, while Castil­lo him­self is now push­ing back against the idea that he’s plan­ning on nation­al­iz­ing indus­tries and has been dis­tanc­ing him­self from oth­er well-known South Amer­i­can social­ist lead­ers like Hugo Chavez, recent polls showed over half of Peru­vians who intend to vote for Castil­lo are open to a com­plete over­haul of how Peru’s econ­o­my oper­ates. So if a major­i­ty of the 41% who cur­rent sup­port for Castil­lo want an com­plete over­haul of the econ­o­my, that trans­lates to over 20% of Peru­vians nation­al­ly. But, of course, that 20% pre­sum­ably under­states the lev­el of sup­port for a sig­nif­i­cant eco­nom­ic over­haul. How high that sup­port for a com­plete trans­for­ma­tion of how Peru’s econ­o­my oper­ates tru­ly is remains per­haps the biggest ques­tion loom­ing over Peru at this moment. But the fact that the lead­ing can­di­date in this elec­tion even has to deny that he’s plan­ning on nation­al­iz­ing indus­tries in the first place is pret­ty remark­able:

    Reuters

    ‘No Chav­is­mo here’: Peru social­ist can­di­date Castil­lo seeks to calm jit­tery mar­kets

    Mar­co Aquino, Maria Cer­vantes
    April 22, 2021 3:00 PM CDT

    Peru­vian social­ist pres­i­den­tial front-run­ner Pedro Castil­lo assured the Andean nation on Thurs­day he would not nation­al­ize com­pa­nies and would hon­or the rule of law, a move aimed at calm­ing jit­tery mar­kets after a sec­ond opin­ion poll showed his lead grow­ing against right-wing rival Keiko Fuji­mori.

    Castil­lo remains in pole posi­tion to win the pres­i­den­cy in a sec­ond round bal­lot set for June, accord­ing to a Datum Inter­na­tion­al poll that showed him gar­ner­ing 41% against 26% for for­mer law­mak­er and three-time pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Fuji­mori.

    Peru’s sprawl­ing min­ing indus­try, the world’s No. 2 cop­per pro­duc­er, has expressed some alarm about Castil­lo, who has gained increas­ing sup­port in Peru’s rur­al hin­ter­lands and has pro­posed to redraft the coun­try’s con­sti­tu­tion. read more

    But Castil­lo blast­ed detrac­tors, telling Radio Exi­tosa they had put words in his mouth. “I com­plete­ly reject those that say that Pedro Castil­lo is going to nation­al­ize,” he said.

    Though the poll revealed a yawn­ing lead for Castil­lo, it also showed that 18% of those sur­veyed had yet to set­tle on a can­di­date, while 15% respond­ed that they would annul their bal­lot or would not vote for any of the can­di­dates.

    Peru’s sol cur­ren­cy plunged to a his­toric low on Thurs­day fol­low­ing the pol­l’s release, then recov­ered slight­ly to 3.755/3.759 to the dol­lar, a 1.24% drop. The Lima stock exchange (.SPBLPSPT) tum­bled 2.2% on Thurs­day.

    Castil­lo’s Peru Libre par­ty has promised in fil­ings to the coun­try’s elec­tions agency that it would nation­al­ize “strate­gic sec­tors” of pro­duc­tion, includ­ing the min­ing sec­tor.

    But Castil­lo reject­ed those pro­pos­als, which he attrib­uted to the par­ty’s left­ist fringe, and brushed off those who liken him to Venezue­lan leader Nico­las Maduro.

    “There is no Chav­is­mo here,” Castil­lo said, refer­ring to the brand of gov­ern­ment installed by Maduro’s social­ist pre­de­ces­sor, Hugo Chavez. He urged Maduro to “first fix his own prob­lems” before attempt­ing to influ­ence Peru. “The one who is going to gov­ern is me,” Castil­lo said.

    ...

    ———–

    “World’No Chav­is­mo here’: Peru social­ist can­di­date Castil­lo seeks to calm jit­tery mar­kets” by Mar­co Aquino and Maria Cer­vantes; Reuters; 04/22/2021

    “Castil­lo remains in pole posi­tion to win the pres­i­den­cy in a sec­ond round bal­lot set for June, accord­ing to a Datum Inter­na­tion­al poll that showed him gar­ner­ing 41% against 26% for for­mer law­mak­er and three-time pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Fuji­mori.

    It’s going to take a major change in pub­lic sen­ti­ment for Keiko Fuji­mori to pull out a vic­to­ry. And it’s not look­ing like threats that Castil­lo will be the cat­a­lyst for that change. Castil­lo is as pop­u­lar as he is despite every­one expect­ing him to nation­al­ize indus­tries. It’s part of what makes Castil­lo’s denials that he’s going to nation­al­ize indus­tries, despite his par­ty’s open sup­port for such poli­cies, so inter­est­ing in the con­text of this race. As we’ve already seen, Castil­lo is actu­al­ly quite con­ser­v­a­tive when it comes to social issues. And here, we’re see­ing him take a more cen­trist stance on nation­al­iza­tions. So Castil­lo seems to have found a win­ning polit­i­cal for­mu­la at this moment in Peru that involves the promise of sig­nif­i­cant left­ist eco­nom­ic poli­cies while avoid­ing becom­ing the per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of the right-wing’s car­i­ca­tures of social­ist lead­ers:

    ...
    Castil­lo’s Peru Libre par­ty has promised in fil­ings to the coun­try’s elec­tions agency that it would nation­al­ize “strate­gic sec­tors” of pro­duc­tion, includ­ing the min­ing sec­tor.

    But Castil­lo reject­ed those pro­pos­als, which he attrib­uted to the par­ty’s left­ist fringe, and brushed off those who liken him to Venezue­lan leader Nico­las Maduro.

    There is no Chav­is­mo here,” Castil­lo said, refer­ring to the brand of gov­ern­ment installed by Maduro’s social­ist pre­de­ces­sor, Hugo Chavez. He urged Maduro to “first fix his own prob­lems” before attempt­ing to influ­ence Peru. “The one who is going to gov­ern is me,” Castil­lo said.
    ...

    Will this polit­i­cal for­mu­la actu­al­ly suc­ceed for Castil­lo in the end? We’ll see, but as the fol­low­ing arti­cle notes, a recent poll found Peru’s eco­nom­ic sys­tem to be at the heart of this elec­tion and more than half of those who intend to vote for Castil­lo say they agree with total­ly chang­ing the eco­nom­ic sys­tem. It was a poll that raised ques­tions of whether or not deny­ing he’ll nation­al­ize indus­tries was actu­al­ly the best polit­i­cal move for Castil­lo, because it sounds like nation­al­iza­tions are pret­ty pop­u­lar:

    Bloomberg

    Peru Sol Hits Record Low as Left­ist Takes Crush­ing Poll Lead

    By Fabi­o­la Zer­pa and Maria Ele­na Viz­caino
    April 25, 2021, 3:02 PM EDT Updat­ed on April 26, 2021, 1:45 PM EDT

    * Pedro Castil­lo widens lead over rival Fuji­mori to 20 points
    * Investors in Peru have moved to dump stocks and bonds

    Peru’s cur­ren­cy took anoth­er bat­ter­ing Mon­day after left­ist pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Pedro Castil­lo extend­ed his poll lead ahead of June’s runoff elec­tion to a crush­ing 20 per­cent­age points.

    The sol dropped 1.2% to a record low for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive trad­ing ses­sion, under­per­form­ing all oth­er emerg­ing-mar­ket cur­ren­cies despite inter­ven­tion from the cen­tral bank. The bench­mark stock index touched a five-month low.

    Castil­lo is backed by 41.5% of peo­ple, com­pared with 21.5% for mar­ket-friend­ly Keiko Fuji­mori, accord­ing to a poll by Insti­tu­to de Estu­dios Peru­anos pub­lished in the dai­ly La Repub­li­ca Sun­day.

    The leftist’s lead ahead of the June 6 vote has spooked investors in Peru, push­ing them to sell every­thing from stocks to sov­er­eign bonds. Since com­ing out of no-where to lead the first-round elec­tion on April 11, Castil­lo, a for­mer school teacher whose par­ty has praised Latin Amer­i­can left­ists such as Hugo Chavez, hasn’t revealed much about his plans for the econ­o­my or about his team of advis­ers.

    The lat­est poll sug­gests that Peru’s eco­nom­ic mod­el is at the cen­ter of the elec­tion. More than half of those who intend to vote for Castil­lo say they agree with total­ly chang­ing the eco­nom­ic sys­tem, while 25.4% of those favor­ing for­mer pres­i­dent Alber­to Fujimori’s daugh­ter say they don’t want any eco­nom­ic changes.

    “Castil­lo is ben­e­fit­ing from a strong desire for change and anti-estab­lish­ment sen­ti­ment,” Alber­to Ramos, chief Latin Amer­i­ca econ­o­mist at Gold­man Sachs, wrote in a note Mon­day. If imple­ment­ed, his inter­ven­tion­ist het­ero­dox pol­i­cy plat­form would entail sig­nif­i­cant risks to the macro econ­o­my, accord­ing to Ramos.

    The poll shows that 21.2% of peo­ple said they would vote blank, and 13.5% were unde­cid­ed. The find­ings were based on tele­phone inter­views with 1,367 peo­ple between April 17–21 nation­wide. The mar­gin of error is plus or minus 2.65 per­cent­age points.

    ...

    ————-

    “Peru Sol Hits Record Low as Left­ist Takes Crush­ing Poll Lead” By Fabi­o­la Zer­pa and Maria Ele­na Viz­caino; Bloomberg; 04/25/2021

    “The lat­est poll sug­gests that Peru’s eco­nom­ic mod­el is at the cen­ter of the elec­tion. More than half of those who intend to vote for Castil­lo say they agree with total­ly chang­ing the eco­nom­ic sys­tem, while 25.4% of those favor­ing for­mer pres­i­dent Alber­to Fujimori’s daugh­ter say they don’t want any eco­nom­ic changes.”

    So over half of the ~41% of Castil­lo sup­port­ers (which trans­lates to ~20% of the elec­torate) want a com­plete eco­nom­ic over­haul. And the rest of Castil­lo’s sup­port­ers are obvi­ous­ly at least fine with some sig­nif­i­cant eco­nom­ic changes. At the same time the poll also found 21% would vote “blank”, a group of vot­ers that does­n’t appear to fear a swing to the left enough to vote for Fuji­mori. So based on this poll, a strong major­i­ty of Peru­vians either want a sig­nif­i­cant eco­nom­ic over­haul of the coun­try or at least aren’t over­whelm­ing­ly ter­ri­fied by the idea:

    ...
    The poll shows that 21.2% of peo­ple said they would vote blank, and 13.5% were unde­cid­ed. The find­ings were based on tele­phone inter­views with 1,367 peo­ple between April 17–21 nation­wide. The mar­gin of error is plus or minus 2.65 per­cent­age points.
    ...

    That’s what an actu­al eco­nom­ic veer to the far left might look like. Talk of indus­try nation­al­iza­tions and a com­plete over­haul of how the econ­o­my oper­ates, fueled by a deep sense of despair that the cur­rent eco­nom­ic par­a­digm can deliv­er any­thing oth­er than more pover­ty for the mass­es and plun­dered wealth for a con­nect­ed few.

    So when Pres­i­dent Biden’s calls for high­er tax­es on the rich and large cor­po­ra­tions or more pub­lic spend­ing on infra­struc­ture get inevitably char­ac­ter­ized as Marx­ist takeover of the US econ­o­my and soci­ety, it’s going to be worth keep­ing in mind that an actu­al polit­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion that could more accu­rate­ly be char­ac­ter­ized as Marx­ist (or clos­er to it) is actu­al­ly tak­ing place in Peru thanks to the per­sis­tent fail­ures of decades of ‘free mar­ket’ poli­cies. Com­pare and con­trast.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 28, 2021, 4:32 pm

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