July 28, 2005 [LINK]

Independence Day in Peru

Peru flag Today Peru celebrates the anniversary of its independence from Spain, in 1823. The weary political climate of the country is well expressed by the tagline from a story in today's El Comercio (en español): "In spite of forecasts, we've arrived at the final year of the Toledo government." President Toledo's performance has been so poor that many expected an insurrection or coup d'etat against him, as has happened in neighboring Ecuador and Bolivia on multiple occasions in recent years. Thankfully, Peru has strong enough institutions to resist abrupt surges of political passions. Toledo has been a big disappointment to the liberal internationalists who believe that earnest good will can suffice to achieve cooperation, but I never held out much hope for him. He is a shallow, politically naive pretender, possessing neither strategic vision nor tactical cunning. Peru has basically been marking time since he was inaugurated four years ago. As the first-round presidential elections scheduled for next April approach, the big question is whether Peru's moderate political parties and leaders can forge an electoral alliance to hold off the challenge posed by Alan Garcia and his Apristas. The cataclysmic failure of his government in the late 1980s has been forgotten by many people, while the remarkable achievements of the disgraced Fujimori government are now too uncomfortable to acknowledge without calling into question the value of democracy.