Zaira Arias, Perú Libre Youth Representative: “We Are Living in an Atmosphere of Hope”

Carlos Aznarez people have a lot to say about the new Peruvian reality that is about to begin when Pedro Castillo takes office. One of the youth leaders of the Peru Libre party, Zaida Arias, has worked intensely for this victory and continues to fight for it not to be taken away from them. With her we are going to find out what the situation is at this time, where the recognition of Castillo is still being denied and where some sectors are even talking about a coup d’état.

Indeed, there is a very heated issue in the country. There is an electoral process that is not over, 17 days have passed since all Peruvians went to the polls to cast their votes. The ONPE, which is the organism that counts the votes, announced many days ago its accounting of the 100% of the votes, where Pedro Castillo is the winner. But the opponent, the loser in this electoral contest, with the intention of not allowing a popular government to take the reins of the country, presented a series of obstacles before the National Jury of Elections (JNE), which is the superior instance to the ONPE, in these elections, and thus prevent the proclamation of Pedro Castillo. She knows that if she challenges votes and records of people who have exercised their right to vote, it would still not be enough for the losing candidate, Keiko Fujimori, to change the numbers so that she can win. She knows it and so does her team. This delaying of the process, by the way, has a political purpose and background and that is to prevent Pedro Castillo from assuming the Presidency, and in that sense, to delay it beyond July 28th. If that were so, the Parliament would assume the presidency, because there cannot be a vacuum of power, and thus, in that way, a coup d’état, a parliamentary coup, would take place. We demand that the will of the people be respected. There are many people who mobilized in Lima demanding respect for the votes. Thousands of compatriots from all over Peru have come for 17 days, both from social organizations and delegations in Lima, which is the epicenter of the situation, to demand the JNE proclaim Pedro Castillo as president. Mobilizations were held on Saturday with thousands of compatriots, the San Martin square was crowded with many people, hoping that their vote would be respected. The slogan was “No to the coup, yes to democracy”.

Regarding this coup that may be underway, the parliamentary coup as you say, there is also talk of a pure and hard coup, with military, what is the importance of these mobilizations of the retired military that are demanding not to recognize Pedro Castillo?

There were sectors of former military and personnel of the Armed Forces who are now retired, who definitely declared themselves in favor of Keiko Fujimori, backing her statements. And those statements are all lies. There is another side of the Armed Forces that supports Pedro Castillo and they released a communiqué. From this same institution of the Armed Forces, they have said that they will abide by the results given by the National Jury of Elections. They would not lend themselves to execute a military coup d’état. In this sense, we appreciate and respect the democratic spirit of the Armed Forces. There will always be groups that want to be on the side of the loser, but we are convinced and hopeful that when the time comes, good will will will always prevail over subordinate interests.

This Thursday, a member of the National Electoral Jury, of clear pro-Fujimori affiliation, resigned.

Yes, that is correct. It seems that the proclamation of Pedro Castillo has been leaked through different media, through social networks. This occurred in the context that this member who was in favor of Keiko Fujimori, because he always found reasons to delay the process. He has now resigned. We believe that the jury has become strong. There is strong citizen pressure in Lima. Many are camping outside the Jury, and I believe that this pressure from the citizens is bearing fruit and the national jury is taking control and is practically thinking of withdrawing the proclamation. As far as we understand, they have already decided not to declare the nullity requests from Fuerza Popular to be founded. There are no further grounds for delaying this process. People are mobilizing. At a press conference, the front of social organizations has called for a mobilization for June 26, under the slogan “if there is no proclamation, national strike”. So, the institutions have a clear warning from the mobilized, conscious and organized people, that they will demand that the will of the people be respected.

You are a youth leader within Perú Libre, tell us how the young people of Peru are experiencing this important moment that a man of the people is about to reach the government, after so many frustrations that these young people have lived through because of a political class that has permanently defrauded them.

The feeling of the youth, and also the sentiment of the entire country, is pure hope. There is a breath of fresh air, even in the capital. In the capital there was a lot of discrimination, in fact, there is. We see our brothers from the highlands begging in the streets. We see indigenous people, with their ponchos and polleras. What our indigenous people generally wear here is synonymous with misery, poverty and begging. But now we can breathe a different air, we see sisters from all corners of the country, with polleras, brothers with different attires from the mountains, from the north, from the south of the country and they are giving a lesson to the youth of what it means to be a united, organized and fighting people. A people that will fight until the end, until their representative assumes power legitimately. There is an air of brotherhood in Lima, of great hope, that Pedro Castillo will make a government for all. Pedro Castillo will govern for the rich, for the poor, for businessmen, for workers, for housewives, for everyone. That is the message I want to emphasize, that there should be no fear, that the country should stop being polarized by the corrupt press. Because of a woman who wants to win at any cost. Enough polarization, enough lies. Peru wants to be united and Pedro Castillo will govern for everyone.

I wanted you to tell the audience what is Peru Libre’s agenda for women, to improve the situation of women against violence?

I am a young woman, I have two children, I entered politics because I like it and I am passionate about it. However, we believe that women are not currently involved in politics, not because they do not want to, but because in this system, it has been men who have placed obstacles for women to enter politics. In fact, there are mechanisms in the country, such as parity and alternation, which was approved a couple of years ago. But parity is a percentage, not 50% of men and women. This was ratified only last year. We are far from achieving policies towards women in a vindictive way. The parity of alternation was agreed last year, what happens is that in spite of the fact that there are new legal mechanisms to include women in politics, the same proportions are still the same. In other words, 30% of women congresswomen elected to Congress, we do not have regional governors, there are two or three women mayors at the Lima level and at the national level there are three. The policies that are being implemented in favor of women are not working. Therefore, Peru Libre proposes the revaluation of women in all areas, in politics, in economic independence, in the development of women in the different activities where they can be found, in the support of mothers, in the support of vulnerable women with programs such as the common kitchens, or a glass of milk. In reality, the country is indebted to our people. There have been many years, decades, if not centuries, of total abandonment of the population. Especially the most vulnerable population. So Peru Libre proposes and has a women’s agenda, but it is a comprehensive agenda. Systematic violence is not only gender violence, it is against the entire Peruvian population, impoverished, where education and health are forbidden and this affects all of us, men, women, youth, children and the elderly. That is why Peru Libre represents the women’s agenda, but it is covering the critical points, the root of the problem in basic human issues, such as health, education, food, basic services, the environment. We believe that we women identify ourselves with this agenda, because it is what the country needs today. At the same time, we need to manage a greater participation of women in politics, a larger budget and social programs correctly directed to this population. It is urgent to put an end to discrimination against women, that is why we propose a new school curriculum, and that is not enough with a small group of professions behind a desk in a ministry. Rather, it must be born from the convergence of agreement, parents, teachers, education workers, all together to make new curricula and educate boys and girls on equal terms. I believe that Peru Libre’s proposal is the broadest, deepest and most vindicating for Peruvian women.

There is a very painful issue in Peru, which Pedro Castillo also mentioned in his campaign, it is the case of the women who were sterilized during Fujimori’s times, it is a crime against humanity and we have seen that they themselves have been asking for justice, will this issue also be addressed?

Yes, of course, I believe that from July 28th the country will be subject to and will know a new justice, which is not mortgaged with the corrupt, with the powerful or the indolent. This new justice will represent the Peruvians that make up the country. We believe that the institutions will be able to achieve justice for all the sterilized women, for the family members who have been victims, for those who have been disappeared during Fujimori’s dictatorship, especially now that his daughter pretends to govern us. The country as a whole will be able to have access to a new justice system that truly watches over and works for the majority of Peruvians.

Our solidarity with the Peruvian people and strength for the times to come in Peru and the Patria Grande.

It is important to sustain this social change over time, we are aware that this is only possible with the brotherhood of the Latin American peoples. Because in the end, even if we are divided along some lines, we were born from the same quarries, we have the same ancestors and we are part of the same nation which is Latin America. I want to tell you that your struggles are our struggles and we want our struggles to be your struggles.