Peru and the People's Defenses
by J.B. Gerald
Following the January mobilization to protest the removal from office of Peru’s Indigenous President Pedro Castillo, unofficial reports indicate continuing resistance to the Dina Boluarte assumed Presidency.
The Boluarte government is backed by an extreme right Parliament and the country’s military. As well as the U.S. and Canada alone among countries of the Americas. It represents the multinational corporate resource stripping interests (in Peru this includes China's copper mining and U.S. gold mining) - of an elite. The Boluarte government has murdered over sixty protesters, placed roadblocks throughout the country and regions under emergency law. Castillo is in prison without habeas corpus or trial. Large protests fueled by Indigenous groups from the countryside have gathered repeatedly in Lima and other cities. Demands of the people are largely ignored. The basic problem is that Parliament has consistently fought elected President Pedro Castillo’s attempts to nationalize portions of the country’s resources and protect the environment itself from destruction by corporate resource interests.
Boluarte's attempts to increase government control of the press and her willingness to use the military and martial law against nonviolent protest, are normalized by the authorities and international press. Trade unions have backed the protests. 80% percent of the people are now said to be against the Boluarte government. While the protest movement has remained clearly nonviolent, its protesters are labeled “terrorists;” resistance is increasingly cast as moving toward a civil war. As financial news assures us roads to the mines are opening again, a genocide warning continues.
Meanwhile Democracy Now ! reports that in Guatemala the Indigenous movement’s candidates for Presidency, Thelma Cabrera and running mate Jordán Rojas, have been barred from running. The likely winner of the election will be Zury Ríos, daughter of Ríos Montt, former dictator convicted of genocide against Indigenous villagers. His conviction was overturned by a court of the privileged.
One remembers as well the illegal removal from office of Indigenous President Evo Morales in Bolivia. Is it that democratically elected Indigenous leaders will not be allowed by the elites ? Or is this a problem for the North American corporate boardrooms? Or the U.S. State Department?
Pedro Castillo is an Indigenous leader who won a very narrow election victory over Keiko Fujimori. He now sits in prison under threat of a 31 year sentence for corruption, which gives her right wing political machinery (often charged with corruption) an immense victory, quite outside the parameters of any democracy. Her father, Alberto Fujimori, the convicted war criminal, was considered groomed for political office and supported by the U.S.. Now with U.S. and Canadian approval, Dina Boluarte and the right wing Parliament are proceeding without popular mandate. They represent the foreign interests which sustain Peru’s elite. Under Fujimori the war criminal, authorities remained in power through military atrocities.
The mechanism of a genocide could be considered inherent in Alberto Fujimori’s militarization of the country to contain Shining Path. The army and police were largely Indigenous or mestizo, often trained out of a brutal poverty to survival. The Shining Path which continued a generational struggle for the peoples of Peru, was largely Indigenous, mestizo, trade unionist, socialist, and Maoist. The smaller allied movement of Tupac Amaru was Marxist-Leninist. The U.S. still lists Shining Path as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization,” while Canada lists it in Spanish, Sendero Luminoso, as a terrorist entity. At least 70,000 conflict deaths occurred under Alberto Fujimori; these were accompanied by government programs of birth control which included the sterilization often without informed consent of as many as 300,000 Indigenous women and over 20,000 Indigenous men. The programs were applications of birth prevention programs initiated by the U.N. and groups within the U.S..
The instigation of a civil war by government oppression of a victim group until it’s forced to fight to survive, becomes a tactic of genocide. There is some risk that this is the purpose of Boluarte and the Parliament’s takeover of the democracy. The people’s protests were met with military force when there were no reports of Peru’s protest movement defending itself with arms.
What defenses do the people have against international financial interests supported by countries of origin such as Canada and the U.S. ? The peoples of North America have no desire to see the Indigenous peoples of the Americas enslaved or wiped out. Unless we aspire to join the elite, what happens to the Indigenous peoples simply precedes what happens to the rest of us.
The colonial controls once applied by overt military actions are now covert. In the Guatemala genocide trial of Ríos Montt responsibility for atrocities by U.S. trained and advised troops was limited to Guatemalans. In El Salvador responsibility for the murder of five Jesuits and their house keeper was limited to El Salvador’s army despite training and support by the U.S.. Tracing the training of atrocity units throughout the Americas has often led to the U.S. misnamed School of the Americas (now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation). Occasionally there is a slip in the blood trail, as in Honduras where a U.S. West Point graduate was in 2021 convicted in the death squad murder of the environmental activist Berta Isabel Cáceras. What defenses do the people have?
The viability of the U.N. Convention on Genocide is in question due to the long lasting, intensifying evidence of genocide by the government of Israel against Palestinians and Gazans: faced with ongoing atrocities the powerful nations have done nothing. Under the alchemy of corporate perception management, Russia's stated attempt to protect its minorities in several regions of the Ukraine, and to counter the neo-Nazi ideology which threatened their survival, became “Putin's war of aggression." Despite global condemnation of Myanmar the Rohingya remain alive mostly in refugee camps while the issue of genocide is argued by paid attorneys in court. And to mention again Guatemala's army which provably inflicted a genocide on a portion of Guatemala's Indigenous population under Ríos Montt, Ríos Montt avoided punishment. With impunity the elite would offer the world his daughter as the country's next president.
Despite several attempts Peru has not yet been able to call former President Fujimori to account for genocide. This weakens the people’s defenses against genocide. Internationally the covenants and conventions of international law are politicized and undermined by corporate agendas which advance their own interests. The U.N. has avoided forming an international peace keeping force to assure peoples of the world some protection against atrocities.
The best remaining protection against genocide may be the uncompromised outrage of people in all countries, and the commitment of “never again” made as real as possible by each.
In this instance the most helpful protector for the Peruvian people may be President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico who stands by Pedro Castillo, finds Dina Boluarte spurious, and lambastes the stripping of Peru's resources by Peru’s elite and foreign interests. He publicly recognizes the mechanism of resource stripping as an agenda of liberal governments. Mexico holds relatively approachable laws against genocide. State signatories to the Genocide Convention might gather and record each crime against the victim people. Genocide has no statute of limitations. Because resource stripping destroys the land’s ability to sustain its people, and results ultimately in displacement and death of the people, those profiting from resource stripping should be registered by the U.N., tracked, and eventually prosecuted. Under an objective application of the law governments and individual politicians allowing profits from the attempted genocide of a people would be complicit and should be sanctioned and eventually prosecuted.
"Peru and the People's Defenses"
by John Bart Gerald
graphic by Julie Maas
Posted: nightslantern.ca, March 4, 2023
john bart gerald and julie maas
posted March 4, 2023