Monday, July 22, 2013

Protest downtown

Tonight I joined thousands of others downtown in a protest against the recent actions of the Peruvian Congress.   On the 18th, the nation watched via a live TV feed as the four parties with the largest share of representatives in Congress, which included the party of former president and dictator, Alberto Fujimori (who is serving prison time for graft, corruption, and human rights abuses), and that of the current president, Ollanta Humala- consumated a political deal between them to get their members elected to head the Central Reserve Bank, the Constitutional Court, and the Public Defender's Office.

The four parties -Gana Perú, Fuerza Popular, Perú Posible, and Alianza Por el Gran Cambio- pushed through a vote for the candidates in a block, instead of on a one-by-one basis, as required by the Congressional regulations in place since 1975.   As a result, the candidates were selected based, not on personal and professional qualifications, but on quotas set in backroom partisan wheeling and dealing.  In fact when one Congresswoman tried to abstain, she was browbeaten into voting in favor, on the grounds that she "had to agree" as her party had a "political agreement" to which she was supposedly bound.   To make things worse -with the exception of those elected to the Central Reserve Bank- the elected were perhaps among the worst candidates, lacking in relevant experience, having conflicts of interest, and having been connected to or defended human rights abuses and corrupt practices.

The people's rejection was immediate and loud.   Almost every newspaper, magazine, newsprogram, NGO, labor union, political movement, student group, and others spoke out against the repartija - the divvying up- in Congress.  That very night there were spontaneous protests in Lima.

There was another demo called for tonight as a show of rejection and a means of pressuring those elected into stepping aside, and Congress into approving an extraordinary session for Wednesday to anul the election and hold another, clean one.

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