Clau O’Brien Moscoso
Peruvian military training at Fort Hood, Texas in 2021 (Photo: jbsa.mil Donald Sparks)
US SOUTHCOM is strengthening ties with Peru’s coup government by training that country’s military and police force.
National Strike, Day 140
Amid continuing social upheaval five months after the parliamentary coup against Pedro Castillo, the Peruvian Congress, controlled by the hard right, has approved the entrance of US troops into national territory to train the Peruvian military and National Police beginning June 1st through the end of the year. This comes after the Supreme Court ruled that protest is not a protected right under the 1993 Fujimori dictatorship era constitution. This also comes after a visit from the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Peaceful Assembly and Association Clément Nyaletsossi Voule stated that there was no evidence of terrorism from protesters and called for accountability and political reform to end the crisis. As multiple reports from human rights observers have confirmed, the armed forces carried out extrajudicial killings and massacres during the first few months of the popular uprising following the overthrow of President Pedro Castillo. The Peruvian masses have stated that this was a clear US backed coup from the beginning and are now getting concrete evidence that the right-wing coup regime works hand in hand with the North American hegemonic power to train armed forces in so called “conflict zones”, particularly in the south of the country where the strike and blockades have been the strongest.
With 70 votes in favor, 33 against and 4 abstentions, the Peruvian Congress approved the military training of Armed Forces by US troops, who already occupy multiple bases through US SOUTHCOM (Southern Command) since the 1990s during the Fujimori dictatorship. The “conflict zones” where US troops will be training Peruvian Armed Forces include Lima, Callao, Loreto, San Martín, Huánuco, Ucayali, Pasco, Junín, Huancavelica, Cusco, Ayacucho, Iquitos, Pucusana and Apurímac, regions which saw incredible violence on the part of the coup regime during protests the past five months. Some of these regions are also active protest areas against extractive mining corporations, like the Las Bambas copper mine in Apurímac, where there are active blockades and protests by communities affected by extractive mining that has poisoned their waters and lands.
With only a 6% approval rating , Congress has rammed through some of the most authoritarian laws in recent Peruvian history, rivaling that of the dictatorship of the 1990s, including a raise of the retirement age to 75 and approving projects that continue deforestation of the Peruvian Amazon . Of course, it should be noted that this Congress is dominated by the Fujimori controlled Fuerza Popular political party and its various satellite parties. This is why the people on the ground have for years demanded the closure of the coup Congress which they see as being the institutional continuation of the Fujimori dictatorship, along with the 1993 constitution inherited from Washington, DC . It is precisely this document that privatizes the country’s natural resources, which the mostly indigenous campesino populations of those regions rich in resources see as theft and a violation of their sovereignty for the profits of transnational corporations. Perhaps the most important demand of this current uprising is exactly that, the self determination and sovereignty of the peoples of Perú.
Since the start of the coup, US interference and western interests were evident, from the nakedly imperialist remarks by SOUTHCOM Commander General Laura Richardson to the US Ambassador Lisa Kenna meeting with the Minister of Defense Gustavo Bobbias the day before the coup against Pedro Castillo. As Richardson has previously stated on numerous occasions, “US Southern Command is our neighborhood ” that is “off the charts in natural resources and rare earth elements… but the PRC (People’s Republic of China) in a lot of our countries in this region is the number one trade partner.” This modern day Monroe Doctrine declaration was picked up by former CIA aide to Mike Pompeo Lisa Kenna as she quickly met with key figures in the coup regime and declared her approval of the Boluarte regime. The very day Castillo was ousted.
Now with the explicit participation of US military personnel in the training of the Peruvian armed forces that have already been investigated by human rights organizations and found to have committed acts of extrajudicial killings, massacres, and brutal political repression, the struggle for a country governed by the people at the service of the people intensifies. The ex-president of Bolivia Evo Morales aptly stated in a tweet on Sunday, “Peru is governed from Washington. With this authorization from the Peruvian right, we warn that the criminalization of the protest and the occupation of US military forces is consolidating a repressive state that will affect sovereignty and regional peace in Latin America.” As Congress continues to block commissions to investigate the killings, the masses of Peruvian people continue to organize and plan for the Third Takeover of Lima for July 19th while also organizing regional strikes and continuing the blockades in the south of the country. This new decree by the widely unpopular Congress will not deter the popular will of the Peruvian peoples eager for their sovereignty and self-determination.
Clau O’Brien Moscoso is an organizer with the Black Alliance for Peace in the Haiti/Americas Team. Originally from Barrios Altos, Lima, she grew up in New Jersey and now lives between both countries.