Peru Recent History Part I

By | December 21, 2021

The elections for the Constituent Assembly in June 1978 represented the first step towards the return to power of civilians; the lack of participation, in controversy with the military government, of the center-right formation Acción Popular (AP) favored the victory of the Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana (APRA, with 35% of the votes and 37 seats out of 100) in the Partido Popular Cristiano (PPC, 27% of the votes and 25 seats). In July 1979 the Assembly drafted a new constitution according to which the executive power was entrusted to a president of the Republic, elected every five years by universal suffrage and not immediately re-eligible: if no candidate reached an absolute majority, a ballot was held between the two. most voted (only for the consultations of 1980 the percentage required for the election was 36%). Legislative power was vested in a bicameral National Congress, in office for 5 years, composed of a Senate of 60 members, elected with a proportional system, and a Chamber of Deputies of 180 members, elected with a proportional system on a regional scale.

General elections took place on May 18, 1980: F. Belaúnde Terry of AP won the presidential elections with 45.4% of the votes; APRA paid for the internal differences arising after the death of its founder, R. Haya de la Torre (August 1979), obtaining only 27.4% with its candidate. AP also won the consultations for Congress (98 seats in the House and 26 in the Senate), followed by APRA (58 deputies and 18 senators) and the PPC (10 deputies and 6 senators). Faced with a difficult economic situation (foreign debt had exceeded 7 billion dollars and inflation had reached 60%) the administration of Belaúnde opened up to foreign capital and privileged private investments in the oil and mining sectors. For Peru 2016, please check

From 1980 the internal stability of the Peru was threatened by the activities of Sendero Luminoso, a revolutionary formation of Maoist inspiration led by a former professor of philosophy, M. Abimael Guzmán. To the guerrillas in the countryside, opposed by the government by authorizing the intervention of the army and subjecting some Andean departments to exceptional security measures since July 1984, the militants of Sendero they soon joined an equally bloody strategy of urban terrorism. On the international level, Belaúnde normalized (April 1981) diplomatic relations with Chile, interrupted by a case of espionage in 1979. The long-standing dispute with Ecuador for the possession of the Cordillera del Condor (assigned to Peru by the Rio de Janeiro of 1942) instead degenerated into a brief armed conflict (January 1981); the border between the two countries was soon reopened, but new skirmishes took place in January 1982 and 1983. The worsening of the economic situation and the austerity measures adopted by the executive to obtain loans and deferrals in the payment of international debt (13.5 billions of dollars at the end of 1984) favored social protest and the growth of consensus for the left, united since 1980 in the coalition Izquierda Unida (IU), and for the APRA. The human rights violations perpetrated by the army in the fight against terrorism (torture, summary executions, massacres of peasants suspected of supporting the guerrillas) attracted further criticism on the government, exacerbated by the inability it demonstrated to prevent the spread of the phenomenon to the same capital, which since September 1984 was the scene of the bomb attacks signed by the Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amarú (MRTA).

The general elections (April 14, 1985) severely punished Belaúnde’s party. In the presidential elections, the general secretary of the APRA, A. García Pérez (45.7% of the votes) was established, followed by the candidate of the IU, A. Barrantes (21.3%), while the representative of AP had just 6, 3% of the votes. APRA became the largest party in both branches of Congress (107 deputies and 32 senators) ahead of IU (48 deputies and 15 senators), Convergencia Democrática, a coalition between PPC and former APRists (12 deputies and 7 senators), and AP (10 deputies and 5 senators). Despite not having obtained the 51% of the votes required by the constitution, García was proclaimed president by the national electoral council, which considered the ballot after Barrantes’ withdrawal superfluous.

In his inaugural speech (July 28) García announced that the Peru would allocate only 10% of the value of his exports to the payment of the foreign debt and that the government would renegotiate this debt directly with creditors and not with the International Monetary Fund. In early August, the new Peruvian administration froze dollar bank deposits, reduced interest rates, devalued the inti (the new currency, introduced in February 1985), and froze the prices of essential goods and services; at the end of the summer he terminated the contracts with some foreign oil companies that in 1980 had obtained tax exemptions in exchange for the commitment, not met, to search for new fields (the American Belco Petroleum Corporation was nationalized in December). In foreign policy García distanced himself from the USA, giving life, on the day of his inauguration, with the presidents of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay to the ” Lima Group ”, to support the ” Contadora Group ” in the search for a negotiated solution to the conflict in Central America.

The initial positive results in the economic field (at the end of 1986 inflation had fallen from 158 to 63% and gross domestic product increased by 8.5%) were not matched by successes in the fight against terrorism: in February 1986 the government extended to State of emergency 60 days for the entire nation, imposing a four-hour curfew on the capital and the port of Callao, while a “ peacemaking ” commission wanted by the president resigned to protest against the bloodbath (250 dead) with which had been suppressed by a revolt of inmates in Sendero Luminoso, which broke out in June in three prisons in Lima.

The delay in the payment of the external debt (which had risen to 14.4 billion dollars at the end of 1986) prevented the Peru from receiving new loans from the international financial community; the government had to impose new austerity measures, which caused a resumption of strikes, while a lively debate opened on the project to nationalize banks and private insurance and financial institutions, approved by Congress in September 1987. To contain inflation, which from 114.5% at the end of 1987 it had exceeded 1000% in mid-1988, in September 1988 a “gradual economic adjustment program” was launched based on successive devaluations of the inti, the progressive elimination of state subsidies to some basic products and the increase in the prices of oil ones; the purchasing power of workers dropped drastically, without inflation slowing down (2,775% at the end of 1989). As regards the fight against terrorism, from the summer of 1988 the military was authorized to make greater use of force to counter the close alliance between guerrillas and drug traffickers in the upper Huallaga valley, one of the main coca growing areas.

Terrorist violence experienced a surge on the occasion of the municipal elections in November 1989, which Sendero Luminoso attempted to sabotage by threatening to kill the candidates and those who went to the polls. The results of the elections highlighted the APRA’s loss of consensus in favor of the Frente Democrático (FREDEMO), a right-wing formation born in February 1988 from the union of AP, PPC and Movimiento Libertad (born in 1987 on the initiative of the writer M. Vargas Llosa to counter the credit nationalization project).

Peru Recent History