WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
25 Sep 2020 | Podcast

Peru: “If we do not succeed against this plague, then anything can happen”

Peru may be getting overlooked in English-language media and policy discussions lately, but a great deal is happening there.

Despite adopting strict social distancing measures, the country has the world’s highest per-capita rate of deaths from COVID-19. Corruption and human rights crimes have sent the past five elected presidents to prison, to trial, or to the verge of extradition. The current president, Martín Vizcarra, who replaced a president brought down by corruption charges, just survived a mid-September congressional impeachment attempt, which came with a failed attempt to get the military involved.

Amid all of this, Peru is holding elections in seven months, with some likelihood that populist candidates could prosper. Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s latest drug policy certification document had some scolding language about Peru’s coca eradication efforts.

We talk about all of this with Gustavo Gorriti of IDL Reporteros, one of the best-known investigative journalists in Latin America. Gorriti broke the story about the congressional president’s failed attempt to get the military to support his impeachment effort. This is the latest of decades of high-profile investigations that have revealed corruption and human rights abuse.

“The paradoxical situation in Peru,” Gorriti explains in this episode, “is that institutions that should be the bulwarks of democracy have been conspiring against democracy, and institutions that traditionally have overthrown democracy have been supporting democracy.”

Gorriti is joined by Jo-Marie Burt, a senior fellow at WOLA and associate professor of political science at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. Dr. Burt is the author of Silencing Civil Society: Political Violence and the Authoritarian State in Peru (2007) and directed Rights Perú, a collaborative research project on human rights prosecutions in Peru.

Listen to WOLA’s Latin America Today podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, or wherever you subscribe to podcasts. The main feed is here.