Peru: Grey Days

The Andean nation of Peru, like much of Latin America, is trapped in a web of contradictions. With one of the fastest growing economies in the region, President Alejandro Toledo’s approval rating has dropped from fifty nine percent to less than twelve percent – an unprecedented level. The murderous Shining Path guerrillas, soundly defeated in the 1990s, are enjoying a resurgence, kidnapping seventy one pipeline workers in early June, then ambushing an army patrol and killing seven people in July. Experiencing a democratic renaissance after a decade of authoritarian rule, popular disgust with political parties and old-style political leaders has seldom been higher.

The World Today Updated 21 October 2020 Published 1 August 2003 3 minute READ

Ronald Bruce St John

Author of more than fifty books and articles on Latin America

Mounting discontent in Peru escalated into widespread strikes and social disorder in May. Long-haul drivers parked their trucks, demanding lower petrol prices, and farmers blocked roads, calling for tax cuts and protection from imports. Teachers, government health workers and judiciary employees soon joined in, seeking higher wages.

To restore order, President Alejandro Toledo eventually had to declare a thirty-day nationwide state of emergency, placing Lima and almost half of the regions under military control. The state of siege was lifted at the end of June, except in three regions and a province, and Toledo ended a cabinet crisis the same week by appointing a new prime minister and cabinet.

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