Peru is booming.
If one measures progress by traditional economic indicators, Peru shines brightly at the top of many economic forecasts for Latin America. Productivity is up, an increasing number of foreign companies want to invest in the Peruvian brand, and Peruvians are spending and buying more.
According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, Peru is now South America´s fastest growing economy. From February 2007-February 2008, Peru experienced a growth rate of 9.2 percent. In context, from 2000-2007, Latin America grew on average 3.5 percent annually. Peru, over the same time period, grew at an average rate of 5 percent.
But if one measures progress from a human rights perspective, you get a different answer. Who benefits from growth? If Peruvians are spending and buying more, who´s actually doing the spending? Do all Peruvians have the ability to access this newly created wealth? A few excerpts from a May 2008 article in The Economist shed some light on what some call Peru´s “progress” …
“Yet there are paradoxes at the heart of the boom. Despite the growth, poverty has fallen only slowly … The capital, the Pacific coastal strip and most of the north of the country are all thriving. The problem is the southern Andean region, where poverty reaches 70% of the population. Helped by tourism, mining and microcredit, some Andean cities, such as Cajamarca, Cusco, Huaraz and Huancayo, are prospering. The big divorce is with the surrounding, often mountainous, countryside, where many Andean Indians remain trapped in subsistence farming on small plots … Better roads, education and social policy are all needed.”
Peruse the 2007 Final Human Rights Report of the Coordinating Board of Human Rights in Peru released in June, and the picture becomes even murkier.
Five years after the release of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission´s final report, almost half of the cases sent by the commission to the Public Ministry for investigation are only in the preliminary investigation phase. The report also sharply criticizes the current administration of Peruvian President Alan Garcia for the enactment of decrees that have led to the aggravation of social conflicts, the criminalization of social protest, and the promotion of oil and mining projects despite concerns over their impact on the health of residents nearby. Approximately 85 percent of all social conflicts registered in 2007 occurred within rural areas that suffer from poverty or extreme poverty.
Both factual narratives paint very different pictures. Within this context, I share the second installment of my interview series exploring the Fujimori trial and its implications for human rights in Peru.
Meet Ronald Gamarra, the secretary general of the Coordinating Board of Human Rights in Peru. Gamarra, a lawyer by trade, formally represents civil society in the Fujimori trial. Years ago, Gamarra represented victims in the high-profile case against Alan Garcia before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
When Peruvian security forces stormed a prison that housed suspected leftist guerrillas on the island of El Frontón in July 1986 to quell a Shining Path uprising, approximately 100 prisoners were killed extrajudicially. Garcia, also president of Peru from 1985-1990, was cleared of any wrongdoing. His detractors, including Gamarra, maintain his guilt.[youtube]HwnHa_-XM2A[/youtube]
Posted By Ash Kosiewicz
Posted Jul 17th, 2008