Posted by: mw23 | January 21, 2010

Notoriously curmudgeonly Peruvians

I agree with The Economist.

Crumudgeonly –noun
a bad-tempered, difficult, cantankerous person.

The Politics:

The Economist has a great article about Latin America’s slow but gradual movement up the democratic ladder. The main grab here is that democracy is on the up and up and corruption is supposedly on the decline. Barak Obama made a big impact on geopolitics in the region but Brazil’s influence is steadily rising.

Uruguay is apparently happiest with its current government and Peru least. As far as Peru goes, it has a lot to do with re-electing one Alan Garcia, only the president from the late 80’s who brought Peru to its lowest point in recent history. The man single-handedly destroyed the economy, stole millions, killed thousands, gave rise to terrorism and then fled the country.

As Wikipedia puts it:

“Despite his initial popularity among Peruvian voters, García’s term in office was marked by bouts of hyperinflation, which reached 7,649% in 1990 and had a cumulative total of 2,200,200% over the five years, thereby profoundly destabilizing the Peruvian economy. Owing to such chronic inflation, the Peruvian currency, the sol, was replaced by the Inti in mid-1985, which itself was replaced by the nuevo sol (“new sun”) in July 1991, at which time the new sol had a cumulative value of one billion (1,000,000,000) old soles. During García’s administration, the per capita annual income of Peruvians fell to $720 (below the level of 1960) and Peru’s GDP dropped 20%. By the end of his term, national reserves were a negative $900 million.

García’s presidency left the country with hyperinflation, isolated from the international financial community, with negative reserves of US$900 million, continuous subversive activities by the Shining Path, great increase in poverty levels and an electric train multi-million investment in Lima that was never finished. His critics claim the many poor decisions he took while in office created an environment that led to the rise of an authoritarian leader like Alberto Fujimori. Some suspect García and APRA cut a deal with Fujimori during the 1990 election, backing him in return for immunity, so as to prevent Mario Vargas Llosa and his FREDEMO party, then leading in the polls, from coming to power. During the campaign, Vargas Llosa had promised to investigate corruption in the García administration.

García was accused of multiple charges of corruption during his term. Investigations were archived without verdict.”

What are my thoughts?

There is a nice trend in the slow decline of the Church's influence and an equally slow rise of the confidence in society's more grounded institutions.

Brazil and Chile are perhaps the continent’s best hope for achieving a modernized society, at least within our lifetime. As for the rest, well… a snail could slug across the whole world, but who has that kind of patience when you have guys like Alan Garcia and Hugo Chavez playing puppet-games at the top?

I’m certainly not going to wait and find out… there are bigger fish in the sea!

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