The Peruvian Congress postponed until this Tuesday the debate and vote, initially scheduled for this Monday, of a bill to advance the general elections to October of this year, which includes presidential and legislative elections, in a new attempt to overcome the crisis that has been dragging on that country for almost two months.
(Read here: OAS asks the Peruvian government to call general elections promptly)
The decision to postpone the parliamentary session was announced six hours after the Chamber approved, with 66 votes in favor, 44 against and 6 abstentions, to reconsider the vote that last Friday rejected the electoral advance bill.
(See also: Peru: Congress approves reconsidering voting to advance elections to 2023)
The challenge is for the benches to find a consensus that allows them to reach the 87 votes necessary for the bill to advance. Thus, there are two possible scenarios.
In the first, if the congressmen endorse the advancement of the elections, for it to be a fact, they must ratify it in a second vote that will take place during the next legislature of the Congress, something that will only take place the third week of February, approximately. In the second scenario, the benches again reject the measure without reaching a political agreement, which maintains the current crisis.
I think they are playing with fire because the vision of the congressmen is a total denial of reality. They want to stay until 2026
Although the first scenario would be a first step to control political instability, the truth is that in both cases the country will remain on edge -at least in the medium term- until a solution is found to calm the protests and blockades, which They are already starting to take their toll on the pocket and macro economy. In this situation, the same Organization of American States (OAS), on Monday urged the Government to call new elections soon.
And it is that although the institutions demonstrated the balance of powers by stopping on December 7 the attempted self-coup of the former president Pedro Castillopolitical power has not found an answer to the demands of the population, especially those of the southern Andes with an indigenous majority, historically neglected, and who were the ones who brought Castillo -a rural teacher- to power democratically, betting on improve their living conditions.
Dina Boluartewho was vice president of the also union leader, took over the reins of the Government nearly two months ago with the challenge of diminishing some protests that seem to be content with less than the advancement of elections and a constituent process.
But, although the Executive wants to comply with the requests, the congressional benches -extremely fragmented and with an opposition majority- have not been able to agree to move forward, among other things because with the elections the current Parliament would also be dissolved.
According to a survey of Institute of Peruvian Studies (IEP), 73 percent of Peruvians request elections for this year and 89 percent disapprove of the performance of Congress.
Hence, the OAS itself urged Peru to call general elections soon and noted its concern about the excessive use of police force to repel protesters.
“I think they are playing with fire because the vision of the congressmen is a total denial of reality. They want to stay until 2026,” analyst Giovanna Peñaflor told AFP.
The truth is that Boluarte seems determined to make progress in the Congress assuring that he will promote constitutional reforms so that the advancement of elections is decreed. Decision that although it could increase uncertainty in the country, it seems to be the last way out if the legislature does not approve the advance.
Until now, the political and social crisis has already left more than 50 dead throughout the territory. In addition, the economic losses already reach 2,150 million soles (about 554 million dollars), as confirmed by the Minister of Economy, Álex Contreras.
For its part, a study by the Lima Chamber of Commerce warned that one million jobs, equivalent to 27.8 percent of formal employment in Peru, are at risk of being lost due to the protests.
The strikes and roadblocks mainly affect mining (52.6 percent), the agricultural sector (51 percent), manufacturing (32.3 percent), and construction (31 percent), among others.
Although this Monday there was relief after the authorities deployed a contingent of the Armed forces in the department of Ica (south of Lima) to reopen the Pan-American highway and allow the passage of vehicles.
However, the blockades have forced, even in areas like Puerto Maldonado, in the Peruvian jungle, some inhabitants resort to charcoal or firewood to cook in the absence of gas. But on the streets the atmosphere seems just as intense. On the outskirts of Lima, in the popular neighborhood of Huaycán, hundreds of people marched this Monday with a giant banner that read “Not one more death, Dina resigns now.”
“The mobilizations are going to continue because there are no signs that the Executive is resigning,” the union leader of the General Confederation of Work told AFP.
CARLOS JOSE REYES GARCIA
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