domingo, 10 de octubre de 2010


Siguiendo con los análisis sobre el reciente proceso electoral edil (del que todavía no tenemos los resultados finales oficiales), les presento la ponencia de Max Cameron, Profesor de Ciencias Politicas de la Universidad de British Columbia, Canadá, en la Conferencia de Latin American Studies Association (LASA) en Toronto, Canada, el dia 9 de octubre del 2010 (Foto: El Comercio).

Does the meteoric fall of Lourdes Flores Nano, and the equally improbable rise of Susana Villaran, suggest that Peru is falling in step with the left turns taken by some of its neighbors? After the election in 2006 it appeared that, from the perspective of Latin America’s left turns, Peru was the dog that did not bark – twice. First, Ollanta Humala lost the election and, second, Garcia chose to govern from the right. Was Peruvian soil so saturated in blood that, like Colombia and Mexico, voters would dare embrace neither the neovelasquismo of Humala nor the flotsam and jetsam of the once formidable but never really United Left? In that case, has Villaran finally overcome its Peru’s version of the Vietnam syndrome?

Or are we witnessing the birth of a new right and the transformation of an old left? Thanks to electoral incompetence and partisan suspicions, we still don’t know the final vote tally. The victory of Villaran is uncertain, but it is clear that Flores lost. She lost the big prize, the political high ground, and her way.

Read my lips: Lourdes Flores will never be president of Peru. After three strikes, she is out. In the presidential races of 2001, 2006, as in this contest, the same pattern was repeated: the early lead, the emergence or disappearance of a new candidate, a crisis, and then bitter defeat. In each case, a crucial faux pas: in 2001, her father hurled racist epithets at her contender; in 2006 she displayed her domestic employee to the media to show how she was like family; and now we have the poto-audio, the secretly recorded “up-yours audio tape” in which she deftly shoots the messenger, Alfredo Torres of the APOYO polling company, for shaving percentages off her support every week, and then says the municipal job, which she never wanted, can be shoved you-know-where.

The sentiment may have been understandable. She wanted to be president, but was pushed aside in favor of Luis Castaneda Lossio. The trouble is that the right couldn’t afford to let Lourdes shove the job. When Villaran walks into the municipality of Lima and opens the books the smell of marmalade will be overpowering. Why has it taken years to build bus lanes down the Via Expresa? Castaneda Lossio is widely criticized for being neither efficient nor transparent, and we can be sure that his pecadillos will be ventilated by the Villaran administration.

But what really sank the Flores campaign was the removal of Alex Kouri. As long as this notorious Montesinista was in the race the challenge for democratic voters was to coordinate votes to stop him. Once he was banned, Flores could not hold a candle to Villaran on matters of personal integrity or probity. So she went negative.

Villaran might be as innocuous as your favorite aunt, but Flores suggested that she was aligned with the darkest forces of Peruvian politics – drugs, violence, even the notorious Peru Support Group in England. A hyperventilating Fritz Du Bois suggested that brave men in red suspenders would faint at the sight of Susana in the municipality.

Yet who is Villaran? She is Alfonso Barrantes incarnate—Frijolita. It was said of Barrantes that he could take the ill-humor of Peru’s masses and give it a positive face. But Villaran is better, because she is a woman. She lacks the vanity, the male ego so prominent in the small man, that offen, as Max Weber said, causes politicians to lose their inner balance. Her regular recitations of the pray of Saint Francis also helps.

It is that inner balance that Flores lost in this race. She became the John McCain of Peruvian politics, and behind her stands a Peruvian Tea Party. Historically, the vulnerability of the right has been it’s social isolation: it lives in San Isidro and Miraflores, venturing into Chorillos for military service, and Lima Cercado to worship. Now, however, it has won in districts of Lima never before held, but at a price: its has recruited an unsavory collection of transfugas, operators and shady dealers.

Jaime Bayly was right when he said there is a modern, democratic right in Peru. “Soy yo.” Villaran represents a modern, democratic left. She, is like Barrantes, the engine of this train that pulls Peru’s left. The trouble is the engine has no boxcars behind it.

And so, as we look ahead to the presidential elections of 2011, what can we learn from this municipal contest? There is a Kouri-type figure in this campaign: Keiko Fujimori. The challenge will be to stop her. If Castaneda fizzles, then who will emerge to fight the good fight? Already, Alejandro Toledo is donning his armor and mounting his steed. Surely not, you say! Wasn’t his approval in the single digits in the final years of his last term? But there is a precedent in Peru for disastrous leaders coming back for another term: the current president. Déjà vu, all over again.

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