An interview with Ivan Valcarcel, Peruvian Communist Party spokesman in Madrid on the keys to the political crisis in Peru.
By Guadalupe Barahona
December 8, 2022
“The Peruvian Communist Party denounces the right-wing assault on the government, without ignoring the errors of Pedro Castillo.”
Since the arrival of Pedro Castillo to the presidency of Peru, on July 28, 2021, until his removal by the Congress of the Republic on December 7, 2022, Peru has suffered a permanent political crisis, with all the levers of the State and of economic and media power controlled by the neo-liberal right wing, imbued also with a deep-rooted racism and elitism in Peru, which never accepted a “cholo”, a rural teacher of humble origin, as head of State.
Mundo Obrero was able to speak with Iván Valcárcel in Madrid, spokesman for the Peruvian Communist Party, who in this interview provides context and keys to understanding how and why the events that have led to the removal of Pedro Castillo have been unleashed, and what they mean for the great impoverished majorities of Peru.
What is the Peruvian Communist Party’s reading of the events?
The position of the Peruvian Communist Party has been, from the beginning, to prevent the right wing from taking control of the government, to corner the right wing and to try to make the president lean towards popular proposals. There was the hope of winning over this president, but the power of imperialism and the national oligarchy prevailed.
What has finally happened is an expression of the class struggle. The elites of Peru, who control all the levers of state and de facto power, are deeply racist and classist. Messages have appeared in Whatsapp groups in which the right wing clearly says: “we are going to take over the government and remove the Indian”.
Pedro Castillo tried to stay in power by bowing to imperialism and making concessions to the right wing. Knowing that there was a strategy of destabilization by devaluing the currency against the dollar, he ratified the neo-liberal Julio Valverde as the head of the Reserve Bank of Peru, who has been in office for 25 years. He handed over very important levers of power to the neoliberal right wing, and finally, precipitated his own downfall.
How can we characterize the Peru Libre party and what has been its relationship with the PCP?
The Peru Libre party is of recent formation, it has shown immaturity, which has not helped its ability to govern, and it has enormous internal contradictions. It considered the social-democratic sector (which they call “caviar”) its main enemy, and there was a strong confrontation between the two sectors. The Peruvian Communist Party has called on both sectors to align with the people, to prevent the right wing from controlling the Government.
Peru Libre is a party founded by Dr. Vladimir Cerron, whose father was assassinated by State terrorism, was trained in Cuba as a neurosurgeon and gained prestige in the highlands of Peru for his work with the people. He became president of the Junin region, but the oligarchy began to look for mistakes and prosecuted him in order to get him out of politics.
When Pedro Castillo entered the second round in the presidential elections, Peru Libre was infiltrated by opportunists from the APRA and Fujimori parties. It began to grow like weeds, swollen with right-wing elements. It is known as the “party of the sacred family”, because it is controlled by the Cerrón family.
Our perspective is that Peru Libre has no chance of continuing to be an option for Peru and will never again have the influence it has had in the country. In fact, already in the last regional and municipal elections of October 2 it experienced a tremendous setback. It is on its way to becoming an unimportant organization in the country; its future is one of decline. The Peru Libre Party has been totally discredited; it is on its way over the cliff.
How can Pedro Castillo’s performance be judged?
Pedro Castillo has taken desperate measures and has ended up precipitating his dismissal. What is certain is that Castillo has strengthened Peru’s dependence on imperialism: he has strengthened USAID and we have gone from having 7 U.S. military bases to 10. At the OAS meeting, Castillo did not align himself with the Latin American countries that denounced the blockade against Cuba and the sanctions against Venezuela and Nicaragua, but rather applauded Biden and went so far as to say: “America for the Americans”, which is inconceivable for a Latin American president. Castillo sought the support of the United States, trying to distance himself from the commonwealth of Latin American leftist governments that has been formed, and has strengthened Peru’s dependence on the empire, as well as favoring relations with the Zionist government of Israel. He even dismissed the first foreign minister of his government, Héctor Béjar, for affirming that Peru would leave the Lima Group, and appointed a replacement foreign minister friendly to imperialism.
Pedro Castillo wasn’t any guarantee. He had tried to be mayor for a right-wing party, had little political training and had made blunders. The Peruvian Communist Party called to support the program presented by Peru Libre, not the person of Pedro Castillo as such. Since the 1960s, since the government of General Juan Velasco Alvarado (1968-1975), Peru had not had a national program, until the elections of 2021.
Pedro Castillo’s government has been marked by twists and turns. None of his cabinets has lasted a month. He has had in the council of ministers from the ultra-right to the ultra-left. As we say in Peru, the government of Pedro Castillo is an “arroz con mango” [rice with mango], a chaotic mixture.
How do the Peruvian communists position themselves?
There have been left-wing parties that have turned their backs on the Castillo government from the beginning, like the Communist Party of Peru Patria Roja [Red Fatherland], a Maoist tendency. The PCP Patria Roja resented Pedro Castillo because he caused the division of the trade union organization in the Peruvian teachers’ union, which historically had been organized in SUTEP, led by Patria Roja. In the teachers’ strike that Pedro Castillo led, he did not achieve any benefits for the teachers, but they made him famous, showing him on all the television channels of Fujimorism, in order to weaken SUTEP.
It is also true that the Peru Libre party showed a certain aversion towards the communist parties, the CGTP, SUTEP and the civil construction union.
The position of the Peruvian Communist Party is to denounce the maneuvers of the neo-liberal right wing, without ignoring the errors committed by Pedro Castillo and Peru Libre, in defense of popular democracy, of the interests of the great majorities. That is why we are participating in the mobilizations, which so far are not being widely followed.
How are the people of Peru reacting to the events?
The General Confederation of Peruvian Workers (CGTP) had called for mobilizations for yesterday, in rejection of the move of Congress, but they have been weak, there is no great reaction.
The Peruvian Communist Party has cadres and influence in the CGTP, but it is true that we have followed a more economist line and we have lacked mass ideological work and the popular movement is weak. There is great confusion among the people, and it must be considered that our people have suffered the onslaught of neo-liberalism for decades, which has led to an informal economy of 90%, and the proliferation of “service” companies, equivalent to the ETTs. The degree of unionization and organization is very low, although the CGTP still has the capacity to mobilize and has played a very important role in the struggle against neoliberalism. Deindustrialization under the neoliberal governments of Fujimori and Alán García was very intense: more than 60 state enterprises were handed over to foreign capital (Aero Perú, for example, valued at 2 billion, was sold for 120 million). All this has been accompanied by gigantic corruption. And, paradoxically, there are popular sectors that defend this neoliberal model and end up voting for their exploiters.
This weakness of the popular movement has been dragging on since the time of Shining Path terrorism and State terrorism. Both targeted the militants and cadres of the CGTP, the United Left and the Peruvian Communist Party. They assassinated many militants and destroyed the popular organizations. This, added to the fall of the USSR, hurt us and weakened us. We have suffered several blows since the strike of July 19, 1977, in response to the neoliberal package, which resulted in the dismissal of 5,000 workers, most of them communist militants.
Anything proposed with a popular character is branded as “terrorism”, and the Peruvian people are sensitive to this mental manipulation, they feel fear, a product of the terror deployed by Sendero Luminoso and the State.
What can we expect from the new President, Dina Boluarte?
The divorce between Dina Boluarte and Pedro Castillo has been going on for some time. It is significant that in her first speech as President she said that in her government there will be no “blocked telephone policy”. The interlocution with Pedro Castillo was already broken, and she turned her back on former President Castillo a long time ago.
She was one of the candidates of the Peruvian right wing that conspired from Congress to replace Castillo. They knew that the military coup was not going to happen, because it did not have the support of the United States, which knew that Castillo did not challenge their rule. The coup has taken place through the Parliament, and finally Pedro Castillo himself has brought about these outcomes.
It must be said that the appointment of Dina Boluarte is constitutional, she was to succeed Pedro Castillo. Boluarte has more political training, but she is neither “chicha ni limonada” [corn based alcoholic drink nor lemonade], she is characterized by inconsistent behavior, with popular vocabulary yet at the service of the right. Yesterday she made a sentimental speech towards the popular sectors, but she is going to be a part of the right wing, she will not go beyond a welfare policy and of course she will not talk about changing the Constitution.
Boluarte will be inconsequential, and we do not know how long she will last. The situation is uncertain, because the plan of the right wing is to remove Boluarte and put in her place the president of the Congress, Jose Williams Zapata, who is a radical and talks about “sweeping away” the popular sectors
-This article appeared in Mundo Obrero, a publication of the Communist Party of Spain. This is a machine translation of the original Spanish with edits. Thanks to Mark Burton for calling the article to our attention.