The traumatic departure of Peru’s president

Peru is a very tough country and he was a very weak president with a minimal presence in Congress.

El Comercio de Lima wisely titles its editorial on the resignation of Peru’s president “Historia sin héroes” (A Story Without Heroes). It is correct. There is not a hint of greatness. The tragedy became a farce.

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK to prevent the orthographic torture of spelling his name) resigned on March 21 before he was removed from power. On the 22nd, as former President Alan García warned, the Congress would have voted the vacancia, something similar to an impeachment. Peru is a very tough country and he was a very weak president with a minimal presence in Congress.

The crisis was inevitable. PPK spent 20 months in the presidency, he will be 80 years old in a few weeks, and, as a matter of fact, he did not look much like his countrymen. He is the son of a German Jewish doctor who escaped from Nazism and a wealthy Swiss-French woman whose last name is Godard and who managed to escape from the films of his nephew Jean-Luc, one of the geniuses of French cinema of the sixties.

The family of PPK is so atypical that if you delve briefly in the newspaper libraries you will discover an article in El País written by Luis Esteban Manrique, talking about important spies working for the Soviet Union, and confirming that PPK studied in England and Princeton, is married –his second marriage– with an American woman, Nancy Lange, cousin of the famous actress Jessica Lange, and worked at the World Bank before establishing his own investment banker firm.

PPK was crushed by its own lack of principles and by the Fujimori family, who resemble the leading characters of one of the Japanese tragedies directed by Akira Kurosawa, much more imposing than the Greek ones.

Several months ago, Keiko Fujimori –the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori– prepared a trap in Congress against PPK, although she was not a member of the legislative body. But his brother Kenji, a congressman wrongly considered as an ignorant, intervened. He convinced a dozen congressmen from the Fujimori’s bloc not to impeach PPK. Thus, the members of Congress against the president were not the majority anymore.

Keiko lost the gamble, but only momentarily. Three days after his victory, PPK signed a decree of pardon and Alberto Fujimori was released from jail. No one believes that it was not a quid pro quo. PPK took him out of prison in exchange for prolonging his political life. He’s a kind of Third World Faust who thought that the first rule of the one who holds the power is to keep it, even at the cost of selling his soul to the devil.

Then it happened again, and he tried to use the same means to escape unharmed, but he didn’t succeed. As it occurred with the former head of the intelligence service Vladimiro Montesinos, the attempts to bribe the legislators were filmed. Keiko, finally, could defeat PPK and take a definite revenge on Kenji, but at the cost of weakening the country’s institutional foundations.

The key question is not what PPK will do in the future, but what will happen with Fujimorism, now that Fujimori, an engineer, is free and his political force is split between his two children, Keiko and Kenji. Until today the Peruvian elections were defined against the populist left or against Fujimorism. That’s the way Alejandro Toledo, Alan García, Ollanta Humala and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski were elected. But the next elections may be different.

In the 1980s Spanish political scientist Juan José Linz, a professor at Yale, wrote an essay on the fragility of the presidential system and its inability to fight crises, compared to the strength shown by the nations that had adopted the (approximately) British model. The Caribbean islands colonized by the English, even mainland Guyana, although they were not an example of economic development, at least had a tradition of civilian governments and respect for freedoms.

Undoubtedly, a parliamentary system would have get rid of an uncomfortable Prime Minister without so much fuss. Or perhaps Peruvians should resort to an electoral mechanism such as the Greek one, which gives the heads of government a significant number of congressmen, so that the president is not left unprotected before the parliament. In any case, it is not convenient to throw them into the lions’ den because the evidence shows that they will be eaten.

Published in Spanish by El Blog de Montaner on Saturday March 24th, 2018

*The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author.*