Skip to content

Culture War: How and Why Did Peru Fall Under Communism?

Culture War: ¿cómo y por qué se abrió paso Perú hacia el comunismo?


Esta entrada también está disponible en: Español

[Leer en español]

Culture War returns with its second season. In this installment, Emmanuel Rincón, editor-at-large at El American, talks about the road to communism that Peru is traveling down due to the advance of the populist and communist measures of the newly elected government of Pedro Castillo.

To begin with, we recall the decades of the 70s-80s and the early 90s, when Chairman Gonzalo, as Abimael Guzman was called by his followers, started a revolution in Peru that promised to end inequality and the rich.

“To achieve their goal they killed hundreds of thousands of peasants, planted bombs in downtown Lima, indoctrinated and armed children to turn them into a militia, even hung dogs on poles with protest messages,” Emmanuel tells us.

"*" indicates required fields

Should Joe Biden resign?*
This poll gives you free access to our premium politics newsletter. Unsubscribe at any time.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

He explained that at that time Peru lived the worst years of its history due to the war initiated by extreme leftist terrorist groups, since not only Abimael Guzman’s Sendero Luminoso had started a war against the State, but also the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA), which promoted an asymmetrical war against the forces of law and order.

“All this political instability brought to power a man remembered by many as a hero and by others as a villain. He is Alberto Fujimori. Fujimori came to power by defeating writer and Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa in the presidential elections. His triumph at that time bears many similarities with the process Peru is going through today,” says Rincón.

He also said that at the beginning of the 90’s nobody gave a penny for Alberto Fujimori’s victory. In fact, in the first electoral round, perhaps half of the population did not know him. However, he managed to take second place and move on to the final round with Vargas Llosa.

“Fujimori’s government really surprised not only Peruvian society, but also the whole world. Far from governing like the peasant who rode on a tractor giving poor and populist speeches, he took on the role of an authoritarian leader to combat terrorism in Peru.”

By 1992, after decades of terrorizing the country, Abimael Guzman was arrested in Lima, and little by little the extreme leftist movements were dismantled, which meant that for the first time in decades Peruvians could return to the streets without the threat of terrorism.

“Despite the aberrations committed by Fujimori in the past, thanks to the fight against terrorism and the economic policies promoted by his government, Peru achieved remarkable progress from the 1990s onwards. Exports increased from US$3 billion in the 1990s to US$36 billion in 2010 and poverty was also reduced by more than 50 % in just 10 years,” says Rincón.

Culture War on Pedro Castillo

Emmanuel also spoke about the election of Pedro Castillo as president. He pointed out that the fact that he was elected was already starting to generate turbulence in the economy.

The Peruvian currency has undergone the largest devaluation in decades; there is already open talk of nationalizing private companies, of intervening the economy and of openly attacking wealth through discourse.

Culture War analiza el triunfo de Pedro Castillo FLICKR
Culture War analyzes the triumph of Pedro Castillo. (Flickr)

Finally, he recalled that supporters of Peru Libre, Castillo’s movement, have said in the past that if they come to power they do not intend to hand it over. They have indicated that they have to see themselves in the mirror of Chavismo and never again give up the governability of the country.

“Surely, if Castillo’s plans materialize, in less than a decade Peruvians will begin to migrate by the millions to Ecuador and Chile, fleeing hunger, trying to survive and seeking the refuge that many denied to Venezuelans, repeating the chain of political mistakes in hispanic America, giving power to a man notably unfit to manage public resources.”