Peru’s Far-Right Crusade against a Constitutional Assembly

By Andres Kogan Valderrama

HAVANA TIMES – Given everything that is happening in Peru at this time of mass protests, street violence, human rights violations committed by Dina Boluarte’s de facto government and Congress’ ultra-conservativism, the debate about holding a referendum on drafting a new constitution or not, is becoming more and more urgent.

This is where different Leftist groups and social movements in Peru have come into the picture, pushing the idea of consulting the Peruvian people about a new constitution, while right-wing and conservative groups are moving mountains to keep Fujimori’s illegitimate 1993 Constitution, and are even promoting completely anti-democratic measures.

Such is the case of far-right lawyer Lucas Ghersi, the son of Enrique Ghersi, who couldn’t think of anything better to do apart from begin a petition against the Constituent Assembly, which allows him to put pressure on Congress to get them to ban this explicitly in the constitution.

Ghersi’s arguments to champion this idea is that the Constituent Assembly would have absolute power and, as a result, would automatically lead to a dictatorship without any counterweight, which would be an attack on democracy.

In other words, it would allegedly give way to a totalitarian Leftist project, led by Pedro Castillo, more like what happened in Venezuela, transforming the Constituent Assembly into a body that would only serve to establish a centralized regime that will destroy Rule of Law, like congresswoman Adriana Tudela has also said.

Honestly, it’s very hard to understand how you can say something like this and try and ban it, considering the vast number of different countries in Europe, the Americas and the rest of the world that have had constituent assemblies and have decentralized power and given citizens a voice in the decision-making process, rather than becoming dictatorships.

As a result, giving the constituent assembly a Venezuelan spin – because of the tyranny that stemmed from the government there -, is acting in bad faith and only seeks to fearmonger Peruvians into keeping the Fujimori Constitution that is in force today, and make a few half-hearted amendments in the best-case scenario.

Meanwhile, this anti-constituent assembly crusade, spearheaded by Ghersi and Tudela isn’t naive at all, as it forms part of the far-Right’s global conservative discourse, which is gaining more and more ground in Latin America and the Caribbean, where conspiracies, neoliberal fundamentalism and political incorrectness have a completely discriminatory and anti-democratic view of the world.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that Ghersi and Tudela are sounding the battle cry of this cultural war with this new Right in Peru, which has people like Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, Javier Milei, Agustin Laje, Jose Antonio Kast and Axel Kaiser (who they have a close relationship with) as political and intellectual models.

In the case of Peru, it’s impossible not to name the Mayor of Lima, Rafael Lopez Aliaga, the far-Right’s likely future presidential candidate who has no problem in disseminating openly racist, machista, homophobic hate speech, that even went against COVID restrictions, making it a clear attack on Peruvians’ rights and Peruvian democracy.

Failing to see how serious this is, is to underestimate a far-right that has come to stay in the region and fabricates any kind of lie, like the Constituent Assembly being a totalitarian thing, to gain coverage in mass media and reach groups that have been politically isolated.

As a result, it’s not enough to simply report this narrative by the far-right, which treats traditional law as a cowardly and in the case of Peru, only seeks to misinform and fearmonger about a Constituent Assembly. They are also blaming us for the blunders, mistakes and atrocities committed by different Leftist governments that ruled in the region.

I’m talking about different autocratic leaderships, patronage and human rights violations by authoritarian left-wing governments, that have been used by the regional far-right to easily establish their anti-rights discourse, which should make us reflect upon our own hand in allowing this.

Lastly, let’s not forget that Pedro Castillo attempted a coup d’etat in Peru, before he was going to be dismissed by Congress, but we still have to ask ourselves what would have happened if he had the Armed Forces’ support. It would have turned the Constituent Assembly into a space that it controls, proving the far-right discourse and denying the Peruvian people the chance to have a new democratic social agreement.

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