- The President is corrupt, incompetent and does not act with the best interest of the country in mind.
- Congress and the Judicial branch are corrupt, incompetent and do not act with the best interest of the country in mind.
- 60% of people working in public service are incompetent, corrupt and do not act with the best interest of the country in mind.
PPK is likely out as President of Peru very soon, due to fallout from the Odebrecht scandal. That’s quite a stunning turn of events in that most observers probably had PPK pegged as the least corrupt president of Peru in a very very long time – which may still prove to be accurate regardless.
The sad, scary reason why the Odebrecht scandal is probably bigger in Peru than anywhere else, except maybe Brazil, the home of Odebrecht?
Because Peru was happy to have Odebrecht.
Odebrecht built useless roads to nowhere in pristine jungle, gas pipelines through mountains where many people still have no running water or electricity, and Lord knows what other mega-dog projects because Peru wanted them to. The Odebrecht style mega projects serve to obfuscate the fact there is no investment in local communities, no local expertise in areas like engineering or organizational behavior, nor promotion of a strong local business community that might eventually generate such talent and expertise as is needed in a modern society. The level of bureaucracy and incompetence is so bad in Peru that things simply don’t get done. Basic infrastructure, education, security, science, you name it – it doesn’t get done. So Peru was happy to have Odebrecht come in and do something, anything, corrupt or not.
While other large multi-national construction companies decided to sit out Peru for fear of corruption and local expertise is not available, Odebrecht was the only thing left and Peru was happy to have them. Were it not for Odebrecht’s conviction in the US, Odebrecht would still be in Peru and Peru would still be happy to have them here.
Update 12/16: Judging by local media PPK is now more likely to stay on as President of Peru for the foreseeable future than even 24 hours ago. Anything can still happen but although PPK appears to have lost personal support in his inner circle, the Lima establishment knows full well if PPK leaves it essentially means ushering in the next era of Fujimorismo, which is not a choice of the establishment. There are more and more calls for due process and some commentators are even calling the current political crisis an Odebrecht/Fujimori coup d’etat. So as much as the establishment and even his own inner circle has soured on PPK, they are even less excited about the alternatives.
FWIW my rant before the last elections that a Keiko Fujimori presidency is not good for Peru at this time.
In a stunning electoral comeback it’s now virtually assured that Pedro Pablo Kuczynski Godard or “PPK” will be the next President of Peru.
We already knew the next “first spouse” of Peru would be an American, since both PPK and his opponent Keiko Fujimori are married to US citizens. I know the US well and I can just imagine some of the conversations Mrs. PPK must be having with old friends:
Friend 1: “You’re gonna be a First Lady!!! Is that true? How exciting!!!!”
Mrs. PPK: “Isn’t it great?! I’m so proud of Pedro! OXOXOXO”
Friend 2: “Now, is Peru like a real country?”
Friend 2: “Where is Peru at? Is it like by Belize? ‘caus I went there on a cruise last year.”
Mrs. PPK: ………
Friend 1: “Is Peruvian hard to learn? Is that what they speak there?”
Mrs. PPK: ………
Friend 1: “Oh, so Spanish and, how do you say the other, Quechua?”
Friend 1: “Is the food a lot like Mexican food then? I just love the enchiladas from that little Mexican place downtown.”
Mrs. PPK: ………
Friend 3: “So are you gonna live in their Whi…”
Friend 3: “Wait? Do they have their own White House? Is it white like ours?”
Mrs. PPK: ………
Friend 2: “Do they celebrate the 4th of July in Peru?”
Mrs. PPK: ………
Friend 2: “OK, so the 4th of July is on the 28th of July in Peru?”
Friend 3: “Do I need a passport to come and visit you guys?”
Friend 3: “A Peruvian passport or my American passport?”
Mrs. PPK: ………
Before my American friends get all offended, I like how main street America is very unpretentious, not like Europe for example. I’ve known quite a few Americans who’d never left their home state and had no problem telling you that. They’ll ask simple questions because they don’t know the rest of the world but when they meet a foreigner they are curious, they want to learn. On the other hand many Europeans think they’re so worldly because they’ve stayed at a few 4-star resorts around the world. Knowing what you don’t know isn’t ignorance, when you think you know more than you really do, that’s ignorance.
Having said that, when you live in the US you do live in a very USA-centric world and talking to an American about other parts of the world can be pretty comical.
Come on Mrs. PPK, if you have a sense of humor please share some screenshots. Pretty please!
Keiko Fujimori is favored to be elected President of Peru this Sunday June 5. Peruvian presidential elections are notoriously fickle and an 11th hour momentum swing is not impossible, but it doesn’t look likely.
In my opinion her opponent in the runoff election, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski or “PPK”, hasn’t run a very strong campaign but I don’t think it would have mattered. When Keiko Fujimori wins the election it will be largely for 3 reasons:
She represents change in the minds of the voters.
Since Keiko Fujimori’s father, Alberto Fujimori, got run out of the country 15+ years ago, Peru has had typically center-right, business friendly government and conservative fiscal policy. While macro indicators are generally good, a significant portion of the electorate feels sidelined, they feel that the government cares only for the business/political establishment. Peru isn’t the only place in the world with this sentiment, look at Scotland, the Brexit, the US elections, Dilma’s impeachment in Brazil, it’s a global trend. People want change and here in Peru, Keiko Fujimori represents change from the status quo.
People believe she will get things done.
Peruvians remember the era of Keiko’s father more nuanced than what is reported in English language media. For some background, read Colin’s article on Fujimorismo in Peru. Bottom line: Peruvians feel that under Alberto Fujimori the State did function but in the years since then essential government services have been entirely inefficient, paralyzed by political infighting, corruption and incompetence. Peruvians appear to be willing to accept a degree of autocracy (considering Keiko Fujimori has an absolute majority in parliament) in return for basic government services.
Keiko Fujimori and her inner circle relate well to all Peruvians, including the urban poor and the rural populations.
Although the latter may be in appearance only, appearances matter. PPK seems to relate well to all Peruvians but his team clearly is most comfortable in the business/political establishment of Lima. PPK’s people are not the type of people who would appear comfortable eating cuy in Pampa Wasi. Peruvians feel that Alberto Fujimori’s regime – for better or worse – was a government for all of Peru but the governments since then have been largely a government of wealthy districts in Lima and other big cities.
Barring a last minute PPK comeback, what does a Keiko Fujimori presidency mean for Peru?
In the short term you’re likely to see stronger government and more efficient public institutions. Crime will go down and critical infrastructure projects will advance. Some levels of bureaucracy will get cut and political infighting will end. Tourists won’t notice any significant differences.
However there’s a flip side: Keiko Fujimori has been working methodically since the end of her father’s regime to restore her father’s movement, rebuild her congressional delegation and gain strength in local/regional government. All of this support comes at a cost, especially in a country like Peru where political support is historically based on a direct “quid pro quo”. For example: when you support a local mayoral candidate, it means you’ll get a job in his or her administration when they are elected. There is a “civil service” system in Peru but it’s relatively minor, a very large degree of public employment is politically motivated, as are government contracts.
In a Keiko Fujimori government, anything from justice to building permits will be issued based on who you are (or not) in the regime. Business owners, local and regional government officials will be richly rewarded for their support with contracts, kickbacks, personal favors, etc. Infrastructure projects will advance but they’ll be executed by regime loyalists with generous “extra” compensations and tailored to the needs of government supporters.
Government will be tough on small criminals but big drug traffic rings and other criminal mafias will be allowed to operate within certain confines. Crime is likely to go down nationally but those who support Fujimorismo will have free reign in things like illegal mining, illegal logging, land invasion, etc.
For big foreign investors little will change. However, you’ll have to make that decision as to what legal and ethical confines you’re willing to work in. No matter how many layers you put between yourself and your operation on the ground, you have to be able to sleep at night.
It will be interesting to see how Keiko Fujimori will handle big mining investments, her rhetoric to foreign investors and to her local supporters is somewhat conflicted. While I don’t think she will substantially restrict foreign mining investment, it will be difficult to reconcile the formal mining industry with giving carte blanche to informal miners. Also, expect any big mining project to pay dearly for the approval of the local authorities. Whenever a big mining project comes to town, you can rest assured the local powers that be will come to Keiko looking for their reward for past support.
You could argue none of this is limited to Fujimorismo and I would agree to an extent. All of these issues are part of the culture and only the complete disregard of past governments for the needs and sentiment of ordinary Peruvians have made a return to Fujimorismo possible.
I’d like to believe that government is a noble enterprise, public institutions serve the greater good but sadly I think that’s naive here in Peru, and it’s only going to get worse. Just like I used to think of middle class in a noble kind of way, nurses, teachers, police officers, etc. Upper middle class maybe a doctor or an honest judge. You want to know who’s upper middle class in Peru nowadays? Corrupt mayors, illegal miners, illegal loggers, land invadors, illegal construction etc. Just look for any Toyota Hilux with a Keiko bumper sticker.
I said I’d stay away from politics and that’s still true. However with the Peruvian presidential election campaigns coming to a close you can’t get away from it. The upcoming election (Sunday) does promise to be interesting, with Alejandro Toledo, Keiko Fujimori and PPK (Pedro Pablo Kuczynski) all in a close race for second place behind Ollanta Humala. The 2 candidates with the most votes go to a runoff election in June.
During his televised “closing rally” in Lima last night PPK played the flute as he often does before his stump speeches. Regardless of politics, I’d have to think he’ll get a few extra points for this.
Peru’s 2011 Presidential elections are almost upon us. April 10 is the big day, and I believe tonight is the final televised debate between the leading candidates.
Let me say 2 things first:
1) I am a guest in Peru so it doesn’t matter to me who wins or loses. I’m privileged to be here and however the Peruvian people choose to govern their country is up to them.
2) I’m Belgian, so you should never take my advice on any matters of politics or government. When it comes to politics, the only thing we Belgians can say is “Thank God for Italy!”
Having said all that, here’s a few notes about the leading candidates in Peru’s upcoming 2011 Presidential elections, for no purpose other than to show how the candidates come across to a gringo. Official bios, photos, web pages and the like can be found here.
1) Alejandro Toledo: He was Peru’s president from 2001 to 2006 and was first Peruvian president of native Indian (Quechua) heritage, but his politics were free-market oriented. He left office to rather low approval ratings, due to the fact that many felt the macro-economic gains that were made did not extend to all Peruvians. On the other hand, nothing bad or particularly controversial happened during his tenure, which was a welcome change from the late 20th century. He’s considered a strong candidate in the upcoming elections, but I know someone who knows some people who know Toledo and say less than favorable things about him.
2) Lucho Castañeda: He was mayor of Lima (home to about 30% of Peru’s population) from 2003 to 2010 and enjoyed generally good approval ratings, easily winning re-election. He implemented the Metropolitano bus system in Lima, which has to be regarded as a great success – although it’s only a small first step in Lima’s transportation solution. Otherwise I don’t know much about Castañeda’s ideology. He’s divorced and conventional wisdom says he has little chance of becoming president without a first lady.
3) Ollanta Humala: He’s the villain of them all, widely painted by his opponents as a “leftist” of the same mold of Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez. Humala narrowly lost the 2006 Presidential elections. He seems to have moderated his stance on some issues like foreign investment, but he remains a controversial figure. His opponents and the establishment in general paint a sad picture of Peru heading for the same abyss as Bolivia under Evo Morales should Ollanta Humala be elected, ignoring the fact that Bolivia has one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America and Evo enjoys high approval ratings. But since when does reality trump ideology in this world? Of all the leading candidates Humala is the only one who’s married to a Peruvian, so at least outside of politics he has good judgement 😉
4) Keiko Fujimori: She’s the daughter of former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori. Her father was president from 1990 to 2000, when he was driven out of the country by a popular revolution. During Alberto Fujimori’s regime, Peru saw an end to terrorism and the economic chaos of the 1980s, but his regime was also marked by human rights abuse and corruption, especially in later years. Keep in mind that Peru has a very young population (partly due to the stability that was brought under Fujimori) and something like 20% of the voting public has no adult memory of Fujimori’s presidency. However, there has remained a strong “Fujimori” following and political party in Peru, led now by his daughter Keiko. I don’t know much about Keiko’s ideological convictions, but her VP candidate is ultra-conservative. I guess Keiko has a chance only if someone can be elected president just for being the child of a well-known ex-president. Eerrrgh, wait, where did I see that one before?
5) PPK or Pedro Pablo Kuczynski: He’s Patricia’s favorite, and the favorite of many of her friends as well. I have a PPK poster on the window, but my dog barks at it. It has to be said my dog is one of the dumber dogs you’ll ever meet. In seriousness, PPK is perhaps the most Western of all the leading candidates. He held US citizenship (I think he renounced it before the elections) and has worked on Wall Street. He has a free-market ideology and as minister of economy under Toledo should take some credit for the macro-economic gains that Peru has made. Although I’m not a fan of this ideology (ie. what’s good for business is good for everyone), I have to say that PPK appears to be a thoughtful and reasonable person, and considering his age and previously successful career I would be more inclined to believe that he’s running to serve the country as opposed to running in order to make financial gain for himself and his inner circle.
Finally, it always strikes me how so many politicians no matter where you are would like you to believe the world as you know it would end without their magnificent leadership. Consider this quote from the Ottawa Citizen about Belgian politics, titled No Government, No Problem:
And that quote is more than a month old by now, still no Belgian government, beer exports are still going on fine 😉