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“We cannot allow a sexist, racist, homophobic defender of the dictatorship like Bolsonaro to govern Brazil”

Translation: Eduardo Carniel

Source: http://www.theclinic.cl/2018/10/08/no-podemos-permitir-que-un-defensor-de-la-dictadura-machista-racista-y-homofobo-como-bolsonaro-gobierne-brasil/

 

Almost two years ago, Veronika Mendoza led a historic presidential campaign by the Peruvian Frente Amplio (Broad Front). At the occasion she narrowly missed moving to the elections’ second round, and had to give her support to PPK (Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, elected president), so as to avoid the return of what she herself calls “the Fujimorist dictatorship”. Now, in the face of a split in the Frente, Mendoza thinks the new Latin American left-wing organizations should “undoubtedly” distance themselves from Maduro and Ortega and, to avoid the appearance of far-right governments in the region – like a possible Bolsonaro mandate in Brazil – the progressive Left must abandon its “principled arrogance”. Veronika Mendoza will visit Chile on October 18th, at the occasion of the ¡A toda marcha! Festival, organized by the Revolución Democrática (Democratic Revolution) party.

 

Considering your country’s events in these past few months, do you believe the support for PPK on the presidential second round was a good decision by the Peruvian Frente Amplio?

We have always warned that PPK was an inveterate lobbyist and we have always been opposed to his government. Our call was to avoid the return of the Fujimorist dictatorship that flaunted gangster connections. Now, in the light of the posture taken by the Fujimorists during this time I believe it was a correct decision. Difficult, but correct. We have seen the Fujimorists reinstating the worst Montesinist practices: abusive exercise of power, co-optation of institutions for their own shielding, recording of audios and videos for extortion, etc. It may have been more convenient for us to remain at the margin, but Fujimorism in government with this great parliamentary majority would have been destructive for the country. That, we have been working arduously to not have to face something similar ever again, and to offer the country a government alternative for change.

 

Similarly to Peru, the Chilean Frente Amplio obtained a surprising ballot count in the presidential elections, going over 20% in the first round. How did the Peruvian Frente deal with this electoral “success”? Were there any “quakes” or separations on the inside of the Frente or of its parties?

Personally I had the expectation that the Frente Amplio would move from being an electoral coalition towards becoming a strategic political instrument. I had hoped the Frente could be even more open to citizenship and be constituted into a great diverse and dynamic movement that could reach even more organized spaces, as well as more citizens. But not all of us had the same expectations. I believe some of the Frente’s actors preferred to fall back into their traditional territories and sectors, while others were investing on building a popular and citizen movement which would be the power of a future government. I believe it was viable and even necessary to articulate both dimensions, but it was not possible. To open a Broad Front was risky, it would make us, on some measure, lose our share of control over its initial structures. I believed we had to take that risk, but not all were willing, we weren’t able to do it together. However, even if we are not in the same structure anymore, we coincide permanently in political action.

 

I understand there is an open debate on how to build the twentieth-first century Left. Are those “breaks” or reorganizations part of a natural process among new progressive movements in Latin America?

I believe it is legitimate and even necessary for there to be a diversity of left-wings, each with their own programmatic emphases, with more or less tradition or innovation, with more or less strength in territories, social organizations or institutions. The challenge is to articulate these processes to defend our rights and achieve more, more liberties, to beat the mafias and lobbies that take away our resources and opportunities. And to build upon this diversity the political instrument that allows us to be the government and the power.

 

Which sectors of the Left are grouped in Nuevo Perú? How are they characterized and what are their goals? What are their differences with the Peruvian Frente Amplio?

In Nuevo Perú, left-wing organizations with a long tradition of struggle are conjoined beside popular sectors, organizations, collectives and people who are socialist, nationalist, environmentalist, feminist, as well as citizens who have decided to engage with politics for the first time. The truth is that it is very eclectic, and coexistence is not always easy. In addition, it is a very young organization, our “foundational congress” took place in December 2017. But I believe this diversity is at the same time our greatest potential: we claim to and join the many struggles, on the streets, among people and in Parliament. It may sound ambitious, but we want to contribute to build popular power, we want to dispute the common directions and we want to be the government. Maybe that is one of the differences with the other left-wings which in some cases resigned themselves to ride the coattails of other electoral projects, at the cost of losing their own profile, and in other cases, simply have no vocation to govern and prefer to maintain their reference spaces. We want to go beyond.

 

What has been the strategy of the movement you lead, Nuevo Perú, considering the close presidential elections in your country? Do you think the new left-wings should wager on getting to government as soon as possible?

Yes, I believe we must and can be the government in this next period, but not at any cost or in any condition. We must prepare for it as of now.

 

POLITICAL MOMENT IN LATIN AMERICA

In the Chilean Frente, liberal and left-wing parties and movements coexist. Among the latter, much is talked about building a twentieth-first century Left, that would distance itself from the past century’s processes, including the progressive governments of the beginning of the century in South America. Is it feasible to raise a new Left distinct from the ones who came before? Is it feasible to break with the Left’s historical tradition in this attempt to build new referents?

I believe it will concern us to be continuity, rupture and innovation. We can’t deny the audacity and the transformations that the progressivisms meant in Latin America, nor the hope and popular empowerment they awakened. I believe that, even if they are different processes, in general terms it was a period of claim for our sovereignties, for wealth distribution and for the expansion of rights. Unfortunately, extractive dependency was exacerbated, economies were not diversified, and, in some cases, the relation to social movements was co-opted or broken. I believe it is time to regain and strengthen the rooting in social movements, deepen our democracies, diversify the economy, the leaderships, the struggles. We can’t talk about equality, emancipation or transformation today without incorporating the women’s struggle of the LGBTQI community’s, for example, or the environmentalist agenda, since climate change affects us and we should be able to build a harmonious development with nature.

 

The situations in Venezuela and Nicaragua have been qualified as “critical” by the international press. What is your position – and Nuevo Perú’s – in relation to the Maduro and Ortega governments?

In both cases, even if we recognize the advances that I mentioned just now, we have always been very critical, for example, of the economic policy in Venezuela that exacerbated oil dependency, abandoning other productive sectors and leaving the Venezuelan people to the crisis they now suffer in, or of the exacerbated Ortegaist conservatism which implied in a grave setback in women’s rights. Today, the authoritarianism and criminalization of dissidence distance us totally from these processes. Violence and human rights violations are inexcusable. However, neither will we validate interventionist and militarist postures from other sectors, who instead of demanding dialogue, cause further conflict. There crises are to be resolved with dialogue and more democracy.

 

Should the Latin American Left distance itself from figures like Maduro and Ortega?

Yes, undoubtedly. Yet still marking, though, the multiple responsibilities and factors of the crises that cut across these countries.

 

Further south, we have two presidents being investigated for corruption, Lula and Cristina Fernandéz. Rafael Correa is in asylum in Belgium. What is your evaluation of the progressive period in great part of the Latin American governments this past decade?

I marked it just now, I believe that despite the important advances in terms of sovereignty, wealth distribution and expansion of rights, unfortunately they could not break the perverse logic of a system where the power of money and great corporations rule. This is the pending task. And, however, it is evident that there is a particular level of media persecution with the ones who embodied these processes. Macri and Temer aren’t saints either, quite the opposite, but the powers-that-be and the international press treat them with silk gloves. Every sign of corruption deserves investigation, but every one must be held to the same standard. And also there must separation between the people and the processes.

 

The advance of the far-right in Europe and the USA is an accomplishment. In Brazil the candidate from this sector has the possibilities to become the president. How should the Left face this advance, or prevent its growth in Latin America?

We cannot allow a conservative fanatic, a defender of the dictatorship, a sexist, racist, homophobic authoritarian like Bolsonaro to govern Brazil. His first round ballot count is a warning sign for Latin America. The democratic, progressive and left-wing sectors must leave our principled arrogance behind us and listen to the people. There is a legitimate demand for order, for peace, for security, that characters like Bolsonaro channel towards authoritarian and conservative answers, appealing to hate and fear. We must listen and meet these demands, not disdain them as we often do, and channel them towards democratic and transformative answers, appealing to love and hope.

 

FUJIMORI’S PARDON

Last week the pardon to Alberto Fujimori was revoked. What reflection does this decision leave us with, considering the administration of former president PPK? To what point the distinct Peruvian political parties must answer for what Fujimori and “Fujimorism” accomplished?

With the failure of the IACHR (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights) and this final court decision, it was confirmed that the pardon was not humanitarian, but the result of an illegal and unconstitutional impunity pact below the covers. The most important, however, is that it was established, by the massive and consecutive citizen demonstrations against the pardon, that there is no negotiation with justice, that justice must be equal to all and that there can only be reconciliation in this country over the foundation of memory and justice.

The reversal of the pardon, along with the ongoing investigations against Keiko Fujimori and her surroundings, as well as the general discredit of the citizenship are defeating Fujimorism. I refer to the party and its referents, but this authoritarian and conservative common sense and their gangster networks will probably find another space to lodge, so the struggle goes on.

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