2006.04.09: April 9, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Peru: Politics: Washington Post: Toledo fights for legacy

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Peru: Friend of the Peace Corps: Alejandro Toledo : Special Report: President Alejandro Toledo: 2006.04.09: April 9, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Peru: Politics: Washington Post: Toledo fights for legacy

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-234-53.balt.east.verizon.net - on Monday, April 10, 2006 - 4:18 pm: Edit Post

Toledo fights for legacy

Toledo fights for legacy

At stake is a legacy that many Peruvians seem ready to dismiss as a squandered opportunity. The former economist has crisscrossed the country in recent weeks touting steady economic growth, but raw numbers won't keep him from exiting the presidential palace as one of the least popular Latin American leaders in recent history. Toledo says impatience and unrealistic expectations have undercut his standing, but personal scandals and a reputation for incompetence have also hurt. President Alejandro Toledo of Peru was a language instructor for the Peace Corps in the 1960's. In 2002, Toledo invited the Peace Corps to return to Peru after a 27 year absence.

Toledo fights for legacy

Peru's Leader Fights for Legacy
Election Today May Alter Economic Path Followed by Toledo

By Monte Reel
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, April 9, 2006; Page A18

LIMA, Peru, April 8 -- Consecutive term limits prevent President Alejandro Toledo's name from appearing on Sunday's presidential ballot, but he is campaigning like a man with a lot to lose as the clock runs out on his five years in office.

At stake is a legacy that many Peruvians seem ready to dismiss as a squandered opportunity. The former economist has crisscrossed the country in recent weeks touting steady economic growth, but raw numbers won't keep him from exiting the presidential palace as one of the least popular Latin American leaders in recent history.

Toledo says impatience and unrealistic expectations have undercut his standing, but personal scandals and a reputation for incompetence have also hurt. The discontent has set the stage for an election that raises the type of questions being grappled with by voters throughout Latin America: Is it enough for a leader to settle for the economic gains available to those who play by the rules of the international marketplace, or are more radical measures needed in countries burdened by poverty on a scale unknown in developed countries?

"Peru cannot be refounded every five years," Toledo said from behind a lectern at the presidential palace this week, urging the next president to build on his government's market-based economic policies. "True revolutionaries are those that brandish pencils, notebooks and computers to narrow the gap between the haves and have-nots."

But the front-runner in Sunday's election is proposing more drastic measures. Ollanta Humala, a nationalistic ex-military commander, says wealth must be distributed more broadly -- even if that means defying some of the multinational corporations and foreign governments that have tried to draw Peru further into the international economy. Humala's supporters are unruffled by critics who compare him to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, another self-described revolutionary and his friend.

Polls show Humala, 43, with a slight lead over Lourdes Flores Nano, a former congresswoman who supports free markets, and former president Alan Garcia, who left office in 1990 at a time of runaway inflation and regular terrorist attacks by Maoist guerrilla groups. If none of the candidates gets a majority of the vote, the top two finishers will face off in a second round in May.

Toledo has avoided naming names in his increasingly agitated public announcements about the importance of democratic institutions and international markets, but his target is clear: Humala represents the flip side of some of his government's main priorities.

Toledo hopes to sign a free-trade deal with the United States before he leaves office, but Humala has vowed to scrap the plan if elected. Humala also regularly rails against one of the biggest investments of Toledo's term -- the multibillion-dollar Camisea gas pipeline, which has been plagued by a series of accidental explosions in recent months. He is calling for a redrafting of the contracts of the multinational companies that operate it.

Even if Peru, like Venezuela and Bolivia, elects a socialist firebrand promising deep social and economic restructuring, it won't necessarily reflect a clear shift to the ideological left in the neighborhoods and villages.

According to pollsters, many voters support Humala for the same reasons they chose Toledo in 2001 and authoritarian President Alberto Fujimori in the 1990s: He promises change and the possibility of increased government spending on projects that will directly reach them. Discourse on right-vs.-left, free trade and the importance of democratic institutions mean little to most Humala supporters, they suggest.

"This is why Toledo failed: because he didn't realize why voters elected him," said Alfredo Torres, director of Apoyo, Peru's main polling firm. "Toledo has cared more about his image outside of the country than taking care of the electorate."

In 2001, Toledo was seen as the antidote to Fujimori, an opposition leader who promised more jobs and a break from corruption. Like the Bolivian president, Evo Morales, Toledo was his country's first president of indigenous descent and was a rags-to-riches symbol for a majority that lives in poverty. He grew up with 15 siblings, worked as a shoeshine boy, landed scholarships to U.S. universities and eventually became an economist and professor.

But his approval ratings sank after several petty corruption scandals implicated members of his family. A reputation for dishonesty was reinforced when his repeated denials of fathering a child out of wedlock were proved false. Criticisms that he turned his back on the poor were illustrated in editorial cartoons that mocked his taste for Johnny Walker Blue Label scotch, which sells for about $175 a bottle here.

For most of his term, his approval ratings were stuck at about 10 percent, though they have recently inched into the teens.

"I voted for Toledo, but unfortunately I was mistaken," said Jose Antonio Ordoñez, 25, a taxi driver attending a political rally for Garcia on Thursday night. "He promised a lot, especially more jobs, but it didn't really happen."

All three of the front-running candidates have tried to distance themselves from Toledo, and Flores has had the hardest time doing it. She is the only of the three who unequivocally supports free trade with the United States. But she has emphasized that she would do more than Toledo to make sure the macroeconomic growth reaches the poor.

Garcia, who ran in 2001, has also tried to step clear of Toledo's shadow, portraying himself as a moderate who has learned from the past and deserves a second chance.

"Because Toledo has become known as just another politician, it has led to a rejection of all traditional politicians, of which Garcia is one," said Michael Shifter, an analyst for the Inter-American Dialogue, a policy forum based in Washington.

The thought of another Chavez ally taking the helm in Latin America and a turn away from international markets clearly is not a pleasant one in Washington. The lack of recognition among voters for the economic benefits Peru has experienced during Toledo's term -- including a 5 percent annual growth rate, a doubling of exports and reduced foreign debt -- troubles those who believe his performance compares favorably with other presidents elected since Peru reinstituted its electoral democracy in 1980.

"The sad thing is that only in the past two years have the per capita income figures reached the levels they were in 1980," said a U.S. Embassy official in Lima. If voters "get this wrong again, they could be set back from a pretty nice base that they have right now."

Without being able to comment directly on his possible successors, Toledo can only wait to see how the country responds on Sunday to his presidency: "May God enlighten the voters," he said Friday.

Special correspondent Lucien Chauvin contributed to this report.

When this story was posted in April 2006, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Contact PCOLBulletin BoardRegisterSearch PCOLWhat's New?

Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
The Peace Corps Library Date: February 24 2006 No: 798 The Peace Corps Library
The Peace Corps Library is now available online with over 40,000 index entries in 500 categories. Looking for a Returned Volunteer? Check our RPCV Directory. New: Sign up to receive PCOL Magazine, our free Monthly Magazine by email. Like to keep up with Peace Corps news as it happens? Sign up to recieve a daily summary of Peace Corps stories from around the world.

Top Stories and Breaking News PCOL Magazine Peace Corps Library RPCV Directory Sign Up

PCOL readership increases 100% Date: April 3 2006 No: 853 PCOL readership increases 100%
Monthly readership on "Peace Corps Online" has increased in the past twelve months to 350,000 visitors - over eleven thousand every day - a 100% increase since this time last year. Thanks again, RPCVs and Friends of the Peace Corps, for making PCOL your source of information for the Peace Corps community. And thanks for supporting the Peace Corps Library and History of the Peace Corps. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

History of the Peace Corps Date: March 18 2006 No: 834 History of the Peace Corps
PCOL is proud to announce that Phase One of the "History of the Peace Corps" is now available online. This installment includes over 5,000 pages of primary source documents from the archives of the Peace Corps including every issue of "Peace Corps News," "Peace Corps Times," "Peace Corps Volunteer," "Action Update," and every annual report of the Peace Corps to Congress since 1961. "Ask Not" is an ongoing project. Read how you can help.

PC announces new program in Cambodia Date: March 29 2006 No: 849 PC announces new program in Cambodia
Director Vasquez and Cambodia's Deputy Chief of Mission Meng Eang Nay announced a historic new partnership between the Peace Corps and the Kingdom of Cambodia that will bring volunteers to this Southeast Asian country for the first time. Under King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen, Cambodia has welcomed new partnerships with the U.S. government and other U.S. organizations.

Top Stories: March 23, 2006 Date: March 23 2006 No: 846 Top Stories: March 23, 2006
Peace Corps celebrates 45th Anniversary 9 Mar
Celeste joins Stonebridge International 21 Mar
Spain plans Peace Corps 20 Mar
Rita Botts learns about living in layers in Ukraine 18 Mar
Melanie Boyer writes "About Last Night" 17 Mar
Pat Waak files campaign complaint 15 Mar
Tom Bissell is a 'Yooper' 15 Mar
Toledo keeps Peru's dispute with Yale in the public eye 14 Mar
Lack of teachers for 'Critical Languages' 14 Mar
Keith and Jenny Gelber met as PCVs in Zambia 10 Mar
Bush presents award to Amber Davis-Collins 9 Mar
Brian Singer founded Project Zawadi 9 Mar
Christopher R. Hill speaks on East Asia in Transition 9 Mar
Edmund Hull says patience will win war on terrorism 7 Mar
Miriam Gray reconnects with Brazil RPCV after 40 years 5 Mar
Ashley Tsongas keynotes Women's Week Breakfast 5 Mar
Sari Long says PC has much to teach us 3 Mar
Dana Priest calls for Peace Corps for the 21st Century 4 Mar
Vasquez says PC needs to be more racially diverse 4 Mar
Peace Corps Fund ready for first round of grants 2 Mar
Shriver Peaceworkers Celebrate 12 Years 1 Mar
White House plans to close Americorps NCCC Program 1 Mar

Peace Corps suspends program in Bangladesh Date: March 16 2006 No: 827 Peace Corps suspends program in Bangladesh
Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez announced the suspension of the Peace Corps program in Bangladesh on March 15. The safety and security of volunteers is the number one priority of the Peace Corps. Therefore, all Peace Corps volunteers serving in Bangladesh have safely left the country. More than 280 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Bangladesh since the program opened in November 1998. Latest: What other newspapers say.

Invitee re-assigned after inflammatory remarks Date: March 21 2006 No: 839 Invitee re-assigned after inflammatory remarks
The Peace Corps has pulled the invitation to Derek Volkart to join the Morocco Training Program and offered him a position in the Pacific instead after officials read an article in which he stated that his decision to join the Peace Corps was in "response to our current fascist government." RPCV Lew Nash says that "If Derek Volkart spoke his mind as freely in Morocco about the Moroccan monarchy it could cause major problems for himself and other Peace Corps volunteers." Latest: Volkart reverses stance, takes new assignment in Paraguay.

March 1, 1961: Keeping Kennedy's Promise Date: February 27 2006 No: 800 March 1, 1961: Keeping Kennedy's Promise
On March 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy issues Executive Order #10924, establishing the Peace Corps as a new agency: "Life in the Peace Corps will not be easy. There will be no salary and allowances will be at a level sufficient only to maintain health and meet basic needs. Men and women will be expected to work and live alongside the nationals of the country in which they are stationed--doing the same work, eating the same food, talking the same language. But if the life will not be easy, it will be rich and satisfying. For every young American who participates in the Peace Corps--who works in a foreign land--will know that he or she is sharing in the great common task of bringing to man that decent way of life which is the foundation of freedom and a condition of peace. "

Paid Vacations in the Third World? Date: February 20 2006 No: 787 Paid Vacations in the Third World?
Retired diplomat Peter Rice has written a letter to the Wall Street Journal stating that Peace Corps "is really just a U.S. government program for paid vacations in the Third World." Director Vasquez has responded that "the small stipend volunteers receive during their two years of service is more than returned in the understanding fostered in communities throughout the world and here at home." What do RPCVs think?

RPCV admits to abuse while in Peace Corps Date: February 3 2006 No: 780 RPCV admits to abuse while in Peace Corps
Timothy Ronald Obert has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a minor in Costa Rica while serving there as a Peace Corps volunteer. "The Peace Corps has a zero tolerance policy for misconduct that violates the law or standards of conduct established by the Peace Corps," said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. Could inadequate screening have been partly to blame? Mr. Obert's resume, which he had submitted to the Peace Corps in support of his application to become a Peace Corps Volunteer, showed that he had repeatedly sought and obtained positions working with underprivileged children. Read what RPCVs have to say about this case.

Military Option sparks concerns Date: January 3 2006 No: 773 Military Option sparks concerns
The U.S. military, struggling to fill its voluntary ranks, is allowing recruits to meet part of their reserve military obligations after active duty by serving in the Peace Corps. Read why there is opposition to the program among RPCVs. Director Vasquez says the agency has a long history of accepting qualified applicants who are in inactive military status. John Coyne says "Not only no, but hell no!" and RPCV Chris Matthews leads the debate on "Hardball." Avi Spiegel says Peace Corps is not the place for soldiers while Coleman McCarthy says to Welcome Soldiers to the Peace Corps. Read our poll results. Latest: Congress passed a bill on December 22 including language to remove Peace Corps from the National Call to Service (NCS) military recruitment program

Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger Date: October 22 2005 No: 738 Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger
When the National Call to Service legislation was amended to include Peace Corps in December of 2002, this country had not yet invaded Iraq and was not in prolonged military engagement in the Middle East, as it is now. Read the story of how one volunteer spent three years in captivity from 1976 to 1980 as the hostage of a insurrection group in Colombia in Joanne Marie Roll's op-ed on why this legislation may put soldier/PCVs in the same kind of danger. Latest: Read the ongoing dialog on the subject.

Friends of the Peace Corps 170,000  strong Date: April 2 2005 No: 543 Friends of the Peace Corps 170,000 strong
170,000 is a very special number for the RPCV community - it's the number of Volunteers who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961. It's also a number that is very special to us because March is the first month since our founding in January, 2001 that our readership has exceeded 170,000. And while we know that not everyone who comes to this site is an RPCV, they are all "Friends of the Peace Corps." Thanks everybody for making PCOL your source of news for the Returned Volunteer community.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Washington Post

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Figures; COS - Peru; Politics


Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.