National Strike, Day 68
March 7 marked three months of the congressional coup that ousted democratically elected President Pedro Castillo and claimed the lives of over 70 people during daily anti-government protests. Despite western media ’s attempt to whitewash the illegal ouster (which failed to reach the prerequisite 104 votes by three), a resounding majority of the Peruvian people blame either coup leader Dina Boluarte, Fujimorismo, or the coup Congress for the political crisis facing the Andean country rich in vast minerals and resources. Despite this week’s sentencing of Castillo to another 36 months of pre-trial detention, people on the ground plan to stay in the streets until their demands are met: restitution for Castillo, a popular constituent assembly to overturn the dictatorship era ‘93 constitution, closure of Congress, justice for the massacred, severely injured, and disappeared, and a full reversal of all laws imposed under the dictatorship.
On March 8, International Working Women’s Day, SOUTHCOM General Commander Laura Richardson, testified in front of the House Armed Services Committee on what she considered to be encroachment from China onto the Western Hemisphere:
The world is at an inflection point. Our partners in the Western Hemisphere with whom we are bonded by trade, shared values, democratic traditions, family ties, are feeling the impacts of external interference and coercion. The People’s Republic of China — our pacing challenge — continues to expand its economic, diplomatic, technological, informational and military influence in Latin America and the Caribbean. The PRC has the capability and intent to eschew international norms, advance its bearing, its brand of authoritarianism, and amass power and influence at the expense of these democracies. The PRC has expanded its ability to extract resources, establish ports, manipulate governments through predatory investment practices, and build potential dual-use space facilities, the most space facilities in any combatant command region.
Speaking unironically as the Commander in Chief of the US SOUTHCOM military invasion of Latin America, particularly in Colombia and Perú, Richardson goes on to state just how rich and luscious “our region” is and that China, being in most cases the # 1 trading partner to nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, should be more of a concern to Congress and the US as a whole. She goes on to state the importance of “integrated deterrence,” meaning working with sectors from the military to NGOs and the private (capitalist) sector, to “help build a hemisphere that’s free, secure and prosperous for our generation and generations to come. I call this Team Democracy, and we need to build and field a resource team.” If the violence the coup regime has unleashed in these past 3 months is any indication, this “Team Democracy” is the newest iteration of the 200-year-old Monroe Doctrine vis a vis a lawfare campaign .
If SOUTHCOM’s “Team Democracy” is so concerned with protecting democratic and human rights, why then did US Ambassador to Perú Lisa Kenna meet with Defense Minister Gustavo Bobbio Rosas the day before the coup happened and subsequently offer $8 million in aid to CORAH (that has already been proven to have committed mass human rights violations) supposedly to fight narcotrafficking? Perhaps NATO partner France’s role in training Peruvian Armed Forces to “study” can shed light on the insistence of military and financial aid to a bloody and violent coup regime coming from the US and West. The fact that European multinational corporations like REPSOL was forgiven for the multi million dollar fine it was ordered to pay for last year’s oil spill off the northern coast of Perú (which affected countless fishermen and coastal communities) may give us clues as to what financial interest lies behind this lawfare campaign.
According to Kawsachun News , “Perú’s de facto Minister of Foreign Affairs Ana Cecilia Gervasi, [was] the sole politician at a session which feature[d] an oil executive, the president of the Inter-American Development Bank, and a Globo network host (Brazil), among others.” Shortly after the coup, Canadian Ambassador to Perú and Bolivia Louis Marcotte met with de facto Mining Minister Oscar Vera Gargurevich to “promote investment.” Canadian companies are the largest investors in Perú’s mineral exploitation, with $9.9 billion in assets, and would have lost investments had Castillo followed through on ending the 30 year neoliberal contracts due to expire at the end of this year that privatized riches and imposed poverty on the Peruvian people.
Along with these repressive measures to train and finance the Peruvian Armed Forces and the plundering of natural resources for Western private interests, the coup regime has also declared a number of internal policies that bear naked its fascist core. There has been an onslaught of bills ramming through austerity and repression, like raising the age of retirement from 65 to 75 or decreeing the profession of journalism can only be carried out by those with specific accreditations and under the purview of Congress, severely limiting free speech .
But the more the coup regime digs its heels in with ongoing assassinations, political repression, unpopular policies and one of the lowest approval ratings in Latin America, the peoples of Perú continue their just struggle. They see this coup as having been a rough wakeup call that opened their eyes. They see the forces behind the international lawfare campaign that ousted the president, one of their own , and they see exactly the same contempt the oligarchy and right wing showed to the country’s first indigenous rural president that they show to the people’s movement for a real democracy. This is not the same as the “democracy” imposed by the US/ EU/ NATO axis of domination at the behest of the transnational corporations that are looting and pillaging these lands, while massacring the predominantly indigenous campesino and Amazonian peoples of Perú.