Thursday, 23 July 2009

Ollanda Humala: "Peru needs to change the relationship between the state and capital"

Interview by Gorka Castillo

The image projected by Ollanta Humala (born in Lima, 1963) is that of a reflective and qualified politician. At the leadership of the Nationalist Party, he is preparing to face the challenge of reaching the presidency in 2011. His aim is to transform the current economic system in Peru.

What caused the outbreak of violence in the June 5 in the Amazon?

The violent confrontation between two visions of the country, on the one hand the government and certain sectors of the economy believe that the ownership of the Amazon territories does not belong to the communities because they lack education and investment capacity. Moreover, they argue that we need to reinforce the export matrix to create value, that is to say, the sale of natural resources. Against this view are the original peoples who claim ownership of a territory in which they have lived for longer than the existence of the Republic itself.

What is your position on this crisis?

We believe that the correct way to create value in this area is through a process of industrialization of the country that serves development, not only to growth. In the Amazon, investment must respect the property of the communities living there, it must respect the environment and allow the participation of residents as partners.

But the indigenous worldview is complex. In Ecuador, President Correa also has problems.

We have been working here a long time to form an electoral alliance to govern. That is, we realize that we need the cooperation of social forces to carry out a process of nationalist transformation of the country.

Where would you begin?

We are talking about the re-foundation of the republic and a constituent assembly to re-define relations between the State and capital.

Do you think the dismissal of Prime Minister, Yehude Simon, and the appointment of Javier Velásquez will help defuse the tense situation?

It is a change of faces but not policy. A change in the cabinet resolves a crisis in government but not a crisis of the regime. The system of representation has collapsed in Peru because many people in the interior of the country do not trust their representatives because they are constantly swindled.

The protests are directed against the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the U.S. that Alan García promised not to sign as a candidate, but ended up signing.

Garcia also promised to rescue the democratic Constitution of 1979 and we continue with the [Constitution of Alberto] Fujimori, but with the aggravating circumstance that Garcia has expanded it with 99 legislative decrees, where it is left clear that the State claims no ownership of natural resources. Peru today grants the right to land to companies that extract gas, oil, gold and silver, ie to multinational capital that has the technology to do so. With the sale of these lands the communities go.

But the image Peru presents is that of a successful social-democratic model.

The model of Alan García has nothing social democratic about it. Growth is artificial because the benefits belong to the transnationals. The province of Cajamarca has the highest GDP of the country because it's Yanacocha mine, which provides half of gold production in Peru. However, it is the department with the third highest level of poverty.

How can Spain contribute to improve this situation?

For me, the efforts of the Spanish Government to be present in all forums in Latin America are positive. What I believe is lacking to complement this is to look at what its multinational companies are doing, that the concept of corporate social responsibility be applied. In this area there is plenty to do - above all, because if this improves, the relationship between communities and companies will be very smooth.

Should the current Constitution, drawn up by Fujimori, be abolished immediately?

Of course! It is a criminal Constitution, it was written by Vladimiro Montesinos, General Hermosa Ríos and Fujimori himself, all of them now in prison. But it also broadens an ultra-liberal model that has entrenched the subsidising of capital by the State, which is exhausted.

However, the daughter of Fujimori, today a legislator, heads the polls in popularity.

That’s true, although it is decreasing. But I would not rely on surveys two years out from presidential elections and we do not know who is paying for them.

You were also accused of violating human rights.

It is curious that before entering politics, I was a respected citizen, but once the presidential campaign started, there were eleven criminal proceedings on my back. I did not flee the country like Fujimori, nor like Alan Garcia. I decided to confront them, and came out acquitted of all them.

Alan García maintains the Act of Subjection, a pact signed between Fujimori and the armed forces to consecrate impunity for the military. The Army has so much power?

In 2001 I rose up against Fujimori for this act and denounced the high military officials for supporting this document. Generals who signed this aberration are still active.

Do you think that with the way things are in Latin America with the coup in Honduras that they will permit you to reach the presidency?

I realize that if we had a pro-system discourse, we would not have much trouble. I reaffirm my brotherhood with the processes of transformation that are occurring in Latin America. But the case of Honduras is creating an unfortunate precedent that could enshrine that the simple proposal of a constituent assembly can be a valid reason for a coup d’etat.

In Honduras the days pass and everything stays the same.

Exactly, and as long as there are politicians who call for arbitrators they will be validating an irregular situation. My question is: Will the U.S. administration take action to be consistent with their words?

Translated by Kiraz Janicke, republished from Spanish daily, Público

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