Peru has seen an unusual process of economic growth and political disintegration since the 1990s. The economic policies followed behind the backs of those repeatedly chosen by the electorate since 1990 are an expression of the Peruvian democratic deficit. The good part is that we are all clear about the fact that neoliberalism has nothing to do with democracy, whatever Hayek might say. In social terms, an additional problem in Peru is the installation of the trafa (Lima slang, short for “estafa” -swindle- and “fraud”) as the essence of national culture that accompanies the thinking (??) of the Ignorant and Vulgar[i]Right. To be a “trafero” in Peru today is something respected and desirable. Presidents, Supreme Court judges, members of Congress are part of it. In a word, it is chic to be a trafero. The affirmation “He steals but he gets things done” emerges from an electoral survey with many votes in favour. Castañeda[ii] will apparently win for this reason.
 
What will be subject to the vote this weekend is whether the people of Lima, at least, want to be free from the obscurantism that began with Fujimoro and Montesinos (delinquents), hand-in-hand with the Opus Dei (in politics) and the World Bank (in economics), or not. Therefore, the coming elections in the city are the run-up to the presidential election of 2016. The political inheritor of Fujimoro is Castañeda, who hides behind a wall of silence. He must be the only politician in the world whose campaign is led by silence and non-appearance. Everything else is marketing: music, messages, recordings and photos. Like the Venezuelan Right, he chooses not to appear. What is he hiding? Past trafas and those to come.
 
There exists an abstruse discussion about the left and the right in Peru. To put Susana Villarán and her team on the left is simply a topographical reference. There is no left. There is a homophobic, xenophobic, racist and extremely ignorant right that has turned the country into the most conservative and the most ignorant country in Latin America in recent decades, scarcely behind some Arab countries. It has more private universities than anywhere else and lower scores in the PISA (student assessment) test than any other Latin American country. The Peruvian extreme right has destroyed the country of Vallejo, Mariátegui, Luis Alberto Sánchez, Mario Vargas Llosa, José Watanabe, Toño Cisneros and Santiago Rocagliolo, even as it has reached an unstoppable level of economic growth. It has the most retrograde international policy on gender of Latin America. It has the only Cardinal from Opus Dei in the world and a near fascist clergy involved in the State and even in the National Commission of Human Rights. Not even Escrivá de Balguer, founder of the Opus along with Francisco Franco, dared to achieve such things.
 
There is no left/right discussion, but a discussion marked by transparency/opacity, truth/lies. We have been submerged in twenty-four years of opacity, where the winning politicians lie. Villarán is the inverse example, except for the slip-up when she said that she would not run and now runs for mayor. Is it that so serious? She is being punished for that and not for what she has done for Lima in terms of order, modernization and infrastructure. Lima, ugly, congested, slippery, smelling of urine, has always tried to appear modern even if it is not, but at least it is trying in the area of infrastructure. The traffic chaos, the chaos of markets that Castañeda left, with the thousands of pretty coloured stairways, was attacked directly by Villarán and her team against the mainstream press that is also against her, because she is a woman and not with Opus. The confrontation of Villarán and Opus dates from 1994, when the man who is now Cardinal made his famous statement “human rights are stupid”, paraphrasing the Francoist military man who cried out “Long Live Death!” during the Spanish Civil War. It was Villarán who was in favour of human rights. She was “the stupid one.” A very macho Cardinal! This is the subtext of the despicable campaign that only the people of Lima can understand. Recall that the mainstream Lima press is with the Opus, as was seen in the losing debate over the equality law. For the mainstream press there are no citizens, only souls and consumers.
 
In a city as retrograde as Lima, a woman as mayor is too much. In a retrograde city, honesty is penalized. Recall that the director of the school of governance in a private university, ex-President of the Republic, does not have a university degree, much less a doctorate, and has spent thirty years of public life publicizing an identity fraud – and signing university degrees. He directs the education of some of those who will eventually rule the country. This is our next president, a trafero hero, who even directs the school of the trafa. We can recall a rector of a very successful provincial university who said in a book fair that he had never read a book. Remember that Castañeda has never engaged in a debate with Villarán and has run a campaign without appearing in public. The trafa is a rule installed so we will buy a pig in a poke and above all, to have free hand. This is not the case with Villarán, a woman and an honest one.
 
Between trafa and modernity. This is certainly not an election between capitalism and socialism, as some of the Ignorant and VulgarRight and the mainstream press want to make us believe.
(Translated for ALAI by Jordan Bishop)
 
– Oscar Ugarteche, a Peruvian economist, is the Coordinator of the Observatorio Económico de América Latina (OBELA), Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, UNAM, Mexico – www.obela.org. Member of the SNI/Conacyt and president of ALAI www.alainet.org
 


[i] NdT: “Achorada” in Peruvian slang.
[ii] Luis Castañeda is a candidate for Mayor of Lima.