Ricardo Jiménez: “Here Ministers are Removed Based on Right-Wing Media Pressure and Old Police Reports.”

Carlos Aznárez

Currently, the situation in Peru is worsening by the moment with the permanent offensive of the right wing against the government of Pedro Castillo, demonstrating how difficult it is to advance in fulfilling an electoral program that inspired the enthusiasm of an important sector of the population. The pressures exerted against former Foreign Minister Héctor Béjar, culminating in his withdrawal from the government, are now multiplied by attacks against leaders of the ruling Peru Libre party and against several ministers, as is the case of Iber Maraví, in charge of the Labor Ministry, whom they want to force to resign. To discuss these events, we interviewed one of the leaders of ALBA Movimientos del Perú, Ricardo Jiménez.

Each day that passes, the right wing chooses a new target to bring down within the government of Pedro Castillo. The excuse is always the same: alleged links with “terrorism”.

That’s right, virtually all of Peru’s political strategy has been focused on the attack and defense of ministers. The hegemonic media, together with the right wing in Congress, have dedicated themselves to this game, whose main purpose is to prevent the government from developing a moderately calm administration, like any other administration in its beginnings.

Secondly, it has the objective of blackmailing the government, cornering it and achieving a coup d’état through a presidential vacancy, something that the right wing has not abandoned as a strategy, pursuing a coup d’état of the government. This is: to prevent the current government from fulfilling the commitments of change through the Constituent Assembly that was promised at the ballot box. And in this game, as you pointed out, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Héctor Béjar has fallen and now they are trying to overthrow the Minister of Labor, Iber Maraví. This is extraordinarily grave, because the government has made the mistake of accepting that the media and the police, with their reports, are effectively replacing the rule of law of the judiciary. The Minister of Labor and other members of the cabinet are convicted on the basis of reports given by the police many years ago. For example, Minister Maravi is accused and criminalized for union strikes in which he participated, and as we know, the police in Latin America and the right-wing and neoliberal approach of the governments, consider that participating in union strikes are a terrorist act. This has been taken by the right wing as proof and condemnation of the minister, and the government has committed the blunder of accepting this game and asking for the resignation of Minister Maraví.

They have used the confession of a former member of the Shining Path, which was surely extracted under torture, to link Minister Maravi as part of the Shining Path structure. It is very serious for a popular government to have such a weakness. If it begins this weak, it is likely that if one falls, then two will fall and other ministers will continue to fall.

It is a sign of great weakness for the government, and for democracy and the rule of law in Peru. Regardless of what the police reports say, in a state of law and in a democracy, at least, the one that should condemn is the judiciary. It does not matter what the police report says, the police can say anything about anyone, that is why there is a rule of law and a judiciary that is the only one constitutionally mandated to know if someone committed a crime or not. This was thrown into the trash can in Peru and we are currently in the middle of a very serious situation where, it is the media and the police reports that determine whether someone is guilty or not. This has been accepted. This weakness is shown by President Castillo and the government. I understand that they are aiming for a modicum of stability in order to be able to begin to govern. This is reasonable and it is to be expected that there will be concessions and negotiations, but the problem is that these negotiations have been almost nil. They are ruthless offensives, there is no negotiation, there is no concession from one side or the other. On the other hand, it is not by chance that the vote of confidence to the cabinet was obtained in spite of all these objections and without yielding to these pressures, this should be taken into account by Castillo. It was demonstrated that there is room for maneuver and capacity to be able to sit down and negotiate as equals with this coup right wing, it is not necessary to give in as is being done.

All the Peruvian newspapers are chained together to destabilize the Government from the right.

What is the situation of Vladimir Cerrón, the main leader of Perú Libre, whose premises and home were raided?

Cerrón is being persecuted judicially as well as in the media. As part of this offensive against him, his home and the main party premises of Perú Libre were raided for six hours. Before this happened, the media monopolies unleashed an absolutely appalling witch hunt against Vladimir Cerrón. All the front pages of the newspapers were dedicated to demonizing him, it is a true witch hunt with medieval overtones. This is happening because he has been identified by the right wing, correctly, as the architect, designer and principal leader of the progressive and leftist forces of Peru, which led to the possibility of a change of government, which does not kneel before the Peruvian oligarchy and leads to the possibility of a change as was promised at the ballot box.

He has been the one who made this possible, together with Perú Libre, therefore, the punishment, the revenge of the right wing that controls a great part of the judicial power, this is vox populi in Peru, has been to persecute him mercilessly, but also to destroy him politically, legally and morally. They are a piranha in terms of corruption in front of the big sharks, starting with the defeated candidate in these elections, Keiko Fujimori and the other right-wing parties that are on the offensive against the government. They are the big sharks of corruption that are involved in theft from the state.. I will give you a piece of information to exemplify what I am saying: in the case of Vladimir Cerrón regarding the famous data of the “dynamics of the center”, he is not involved there, there is no evidence, this is arbitrary on the part of some sectors of the Judicial Power to want to implicate him for the sole reason that four militants of Perú Libre are involved, with evidence of corruption in the trafficking of driving licenses for vehicles. It is vox populi in the country, there is no place in Peru where mafias do not operate in order to issue driving licenses. Four militants of Peru Libre are involved in this case, but there are also 16 others involved who are fujimoristas, but the press is completely dedicated to those of the Peru Libre party and Cerron, and they condemn him in the press. So this media game combines a ruthless offensive that distorts and delivers half-truths, invents and slanders, with actors from the judiciary and the congress who are in concert with the right wing to bring down ministers and persecute the leadership of Vladimir Cerrón. This is the situation we are currently in.

It is clear that everything revolves around how these media are operating, what we call media terrorism, are there no media that defend the government or that can counteract, especially in the face of the people so that they can have other voices in the face of this offensive?

There is a great deficit, that is the weakest point of the progressive and leftist front in Peru: the lack of media.

There is strength, and the strength is not negligible, it is significant, because it defeated the powerful media and won the elections with President Castillo and Peru Libre. This is given through the social networks and the alternative media that played their role for the alternative of change. Defeating all the powers that be, defeating everything that was metaphorically called the third round that was imposed on the country for more than a month, when they did not want to recognize the electoral triumph, all this was won thanks to the communication mobilization of the people, the social organizations, the social networks and the people. It is significant and important that it continues to operate in favor of the process of change and the defense of the government, but it is insufficient. The media are needed. Part of the offensive of the right wing that allows the government to be immobilized, and this constant attack, comes from the media. It is necessary to counteract this offensive, for example, to open signals for Telesur and others, to democratize this space monopolized by the right wing. Media such as “Diario Libre” that worked since the first round and were important, today are paralyzed by legal attacks and discrepancies of the sectors that formed it. A great effort is required and I know that the progressive and leftist forces are evaluating at this very moment how to launch mass media that can be more open and break the media encirclement of the right wing.

Finally, how are the allies of the government responding to this offensive? How is Veronika Mendoza and other minor parties that supported Castillo’s candidacy responding to this offensive?

Veronica Mendoza’s party Nuevo Peru and Juntos por Peru, are the biggest allies, the most reliable ones, coming from the left-wing camp, and they have supported President Castillo. Their position has been quite good. They supported and behaved with dignity in this merciless battle against the ministers and others. Veronica Mendoza came out publicly to celebrate the triumph of the vote of confidence in Congress, because it was a hard and difficult triumph, but it was achieved. She also celebrated that Bellido has used Quechua language in spite of the ignorance, distrust and racism of the right wing. This is good, but the strategy needs to be fine-tuned in the low intensity war that is underway.

Just while we have been in this interview, the right wing installed an accusation in the media of verbal violence allegedly made by Premier Bellido against a representative of the right wing in Congress, in sexist terms, according to what they claim. There is no proof of these allegations, it is the word of the right-wing congresswoman against Bellido, who of course denies this. However, Verónica Mendoza and Nuevo Perú, despite the fact that gender justice has been one of the banners that has distinguished them, as has the government, have rushed to presume that this congresswoman’s accusation is true.

I think it is a weakness, as it has also happened in other countries, demonstrating that this is one of the preferred strategies of the right wing to divide the popular and leftist camp, using gender, environmental and indigenous issues.

Of course these are legitimate issues, but the right wing, which has always been against the environment, indigenous peoples and gender equality, knows how to use these fissures very well and manipulate the progressive sectors that, because they lack elements of judgment or analysis, allow themselves to be dragged along by these campaigns.

I hope that it does not prosper and that this alliance with Nuevo Perú and Juntos por Perú, which has been going well so far, can be further strengthened in these terms, better coordinating the environmental, indigenous and gender concerns so that they cannot be manipulated by the right wing.

Translation by Internationalist 360°