Peru: What is Coming

Gustavo Espinoza M

If anyone believes that the departure of Héctor Béjar from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs solves the “political crisis” of the moment, he is completely mistaken. This is not the end of the matter. Here, it begins.

The Mafia, transitorily victorious, will go on the offensive with the arrogance we all know, and will try to sweep away everything. First, it will demand the departure of other ministers; then, the change of the Cabinet, or its censure; then the rectification of the government’s course. Finally, it will seek to overthrow Pedro Castillo.

This is not a premonition, nor a bad omen. It is simply political logic that determines the guidelines. And this, in this case, is marked by the behavior of the acting forces, and whose antecedents the country knows. Let us look at some of the elements to be taken into account.

THE QUESTIONED STATEMENTS

The first thing to point out is that the Minister of Foreign Affairs questioned by the naval high command did not make any statement that could have affected the Navy or anyone else.

The “statement” that generated the indignation of the uniformed, was made not by the minister, but by the university professor and political analyst, long before becoming Chancellor, when he was analyzing the national scenario as a whole in the framework of an interpretation of the events that had occurred, and their projection.

If using this is valid as a political tool, we should ask ourselves why this and other similar arguments were not used when Alan Garcia praised the “mysticism” of the Shining Path and Armando Villanueva placed flowers in front of Edith Lagos’ rumba… Why is it “a horror” what is happening in the country?

Why is what Héctor Béjar said “a horror” and not Fujimori’s “business” with Abimael Guzmán, through an intermediary, to obtain a questionable “surrender”?

What is happening is that now they have taken this as an argument to achieve the fall of a Minister who offered an autonomous, independent and sovereign foreign policy, different from the one promoted by the Mafia in the electoral campaign, another submissive to the dictates of the Empire and subordinated to the interests of the internal and external ultra-right.

Héctor Béjar is being shot down because of this, because he announced the abandonment of the discredited and obsolete “Lima Group”; because he announced the resumption of ties with the Constitutional Government of Venezuela; because he declared himself a friend of Cuba; because he rejected the policy of blockades, threats and external interventions such as those used by the government of the United States to punish the peoples. Therein lies the cause of the furious offensive launched by the opposition through its different spokespersons.

The issue of the “declarations” was only a pretext that served to unify wills behind a supposedly patriotic slogan. The Marines declared themselves “heirs” of Grau, as if the Admiral had ever subscribed to a policy of the opposing side.

FOREIGN POLICY AND THE PRESIDENT

It is essential to remember that, according to Article 118 of the current Constitution – Paragraph 11 – it is the duty of the President of the Republic to direct the Foreign Policy of the State. This is not the function of the Chancellor. The Head of State appoints a Minister to execute his provisions on the matter, but he is the one who decides.

Therefore, the Chancellor cannot be “questioned”. At most, he can be invited to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Congress to “report” on the course of the international policy dictated by the President.

In other words, the Congress could question all the ministers, except the Chancellor. The latter only gives an account of his actions to the President. To no one else.

And, in effect, the President could ask the head of that portfolio to account for his actions, or for the way in which he handled the application of his policies.

THE NAVY AND TERRORISM

The “bone” of contention in the statement has to do with terrorism and the Navy.

The Vice Admirals -the only Admiral is Don Miguel Grau Seminario- have unleashed their anger at having felt “offended” by an allusion to the Navy’s terrorist activities.

Cesar Hildebrandt, who knows the subject, put everything in its place. But one does not need to be like him to remember something that lives in the memory of millions of Peruvians. During the Velasco Alvarado years, the homes of two Navy Commanders, Vice Admirals Larco Cox and Faura Gaig, were dynamited. That was between 1974 and 1975, long before “Shining Path”.

A little later, between 1977 and 1978 – and also before “Sendero” – explosive charges were placed on two Cuban fishing boats anchored in the Callao harbor. In all cases, the United States government reported the hand of the Peruvian Navy.

Navy officers, such as Alvaro Artaza – “Comandante Camion” – and Oscar Brain, participated in these and other terrorist actions. The former had to leave the country. He changed his name and “disappeared”, so that no one would investigate his actions. And the second one also vanished at that time.

But the Marine Corps operated in Ayacucho. And it had an active participation in the massacre of Aucayacu – do you remember it? And it was also in charge of the Municipal Stadium of Huanta, where Jaime Ayala Sulca, reporter of the newspaper “La República”, among others, “disappeared” – have you forgotten?

As for the rest, the Marines were the ones who killed Paez, an inhabitant of Cono Norte; and the ones who took the lives of 6 Peruvians on July 19, 1977, during the National Strike of that time. And even the “car bomb” that exploded in front of Channel 2, was a plow truck, do you remember?

To say that the Navy had something to do with these events -and many more- is not exactly discovering gunpowder. It is to put the finger on the sore spot. That is why they jump when these sinister episodes of national life are remembered.

The Naval Command should recognize them and humbly apologize to all Peruvians. But it does not do so. On the contrary, it spits fiercely at those who allude to that history.

THE RESIGNATION

In spite of the furious campaign of the ultra-right, the head of Torre Tagle should not have resigned. Perhaps he did so, discouraged by the lack of solidarity on the part of the Cabinet and by the ease with which some, such as the Minister of Defense and even the Prime Minister, yielded to the pressure of the enemy. In any case, he had the courage to resist and to affirm that for him, the struggle continues. And so it must.

What happened can be explained by the inconsistency of the government, by the weakness of the left and its slowness to react, and above all, by the weight of the reaction that has in its hands practically all the levers of power.

As long as it has the productive apparatus and the economy in its hands; as long as it owns the media -written, radio and TV press-, as long as the government does not overcome the paralyzing silence; and as long as Pedro Castillo does not assume the real leadership of the people in order to fight with it, and from there, assuming the essential banners of the process the country is going through; the right wing will seem unbeatable.

Things may change when the vanguard is outlined, the government’s version is homogenized, the unity and operative capacity of the left is affirmed and the leadership of a President who owes everything to the people is strengthened.