A failed coup brings Peru to the precipice


A failed coup brings Peru to the precipice

Plus: Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan resolve a long-running border dispute, China signals a reopening, and fatigue over Ukraine funding is setting in

Hi there Intriguer. South Koreans are set to get younger when the country scraps its traditional age-counting system next June. Currently, South Koreans turn one at birth and add a new year every 1 January – so a baby born on 31 December would turn two the next day. We give the South Korean government a 10/10 for creativity in solving the country’s aging population problem. Next up, fixing the world’s lowest fertility rate… 

Today’s briefing is a ~5.5 min read:

  • 🇵🇪 Coup in Peru: Lawmakers rally to secure democracy.
  • ➕ Plus: Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan resolve border dispute, China signals a wider re-opening, and fatigue over Ukraine funding is setting in.
📰 GLOBAL HEADLINES
🤿 DEEP DIVE

A failed coup brings Peru to the precipice

In brief:

  • Peruvian President Pedro Castillo’s attempted coup on Wednesday was the most serious threat to Peruvian democracy in decades.
  • To some, the coup’s failure shows that Peru’s democracy remains resilient while the political futures of Latin American leftists may be in question.

It’s probably all a blur for former Peruvian President Pedro Castillo. Credits: Ernesto Benavides/Agence France-Presse.

Do the whirlwind

The following may seem like something out of a James Patterson novel, but it actually happened last Wednesday in Peru.

  • 11:58 PET: President Pedro Castillo dissolves Congress, imposes a nationwide curfew, and announces that he will rule by decree until new elections are held.
  • 13:51 PET: Peru’s Congress assembles and votes to impeach Castillo by a margin of 101-6.
  • 14:06 PET: Castillo is arrested by national police as he flees to the Mexican Embassy to seek asylum.
  • 15:53 PET: Vice President Dina Boluarte is sworn in as President.

“And you may ask yourself, ‘Well, how did I get here?’”

That question, first posed in 1980 by the Talking Heads, is probably top of mind for Castillo:

  • Castillo first gained political prominence as leader of a nationwide teachers’ strike in 2017.
  • In June 2021, he won Peru’s Presidential election, earning only 19% of the first-round vote, and narrowly defeating a right-wing rival in the second round.

Castillo campaigned as a socialist and political outsider. His party, ‘Free Peru’, argued in its 2020 policy platform document that “to be left, it is necessary to embrace Marxism”. 

While Castillo failed to fulfil his more ambitious campaign proposals (like nationalising the mining sector and re-writing the country’s constitution), he succeeded in shaking Peru’s political system…

… just not in the way he intended.

  • Private capital fled after his election, and Peru’s currency (the sol) plummeted.
  • Five cabinets were re-shuffled, and 81 ministers were either fired or resigned.
  • Peru’s top prosecutor accused Castillo of obstructing justice, taking kickbacks for infrastructure projects, and accepting bribes for government positions.

The governance failures and corruption charges led Congress to try and impeach him – not once, but twice.

Up to speed

Which brings us back to last Wednesday, when a third impeachment vote led Peru to the brink of a governance crisis. Here’s what the events tell us:

1. 🇵🇪 Peru prefers democracy

This isn’t the first time a sitting President has attempted to slide Peru towards autocracy. In 1992, two years after winning office, President Alberto Fujimori sent tanks to the steps of Peru’s legislature, fired tear gas into its chambers, and arrested opposition lawmakers.

  • Fujimori’s autogolpe (‘self-coup’) was successful, and he ruled Peru for eight years.

Though some Peruvians celebrate Fujimori’s legacy (his daughter, Keiko, has been runner-up in the last three presidential elections), the widespread public and Congressional anger over Castillo’s attempted autogolpe suggests that most Peruvians prefer democracy.

2. 💗 Latin America’s ‘pink tide’ is flat-lining

While on the campaign trail, pundits sometimes compared Castillo to Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro and other leftist politicians rising across Latin America.

But these leaders have struggled in recent months. Among other things:

Peru’s latest events might be another indication that Latin American will seek alternatives next time around.

What’s next

Peru is still not out of the woods. Thousands of Castillo’s supporters clashed with police on Friday, and the economic forces that propelled Castillo into office are still strong.

For now, Peru’s first female president Boluarte is in power, and Peru’s democracy seems to be holding.

In the fitting words of Karl Marx, whose ideology shaped Castillo’s:

 “History repeats itself. First as tragedy, and next as farce.” 

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🔦 REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT

North & Central Asia

🇦🇿 Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan and Turkey held joint military exercises (aka the ultimate military flex) on the Iranian border in a show of force against Iran.

  • Tensions between Azerbaijan and Iran has escalated again recently, with both sides accusing the other of provocations.

🇨🇳 China

China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang sought to reassure the international community that China’s doors will be opened wider from now on.

  • Li’s remarks come as China shifts away from its strict Zero-Covid policy and works to rejuvenate its economy.

🇯🇵 Japan

Top Gun fans, get pumped: Japan, Italy, and the UK have agreed to collaborate on building a highly-advanced fighter jet by 2035.

  • The joint project will rival a Franco-German-Spanish enterprise, which has reportedly been plagued by tensions between the three partners.

🇰🇬 Kyrgyzstan

The leaders of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have signed an agreement to settle a series of contentious border issues, which is a welcome bit of good news for diplomacy.

  • The deal includes a land swap and a set of rules for managing a shared water reservoir.

🇵🇰 Pakistan

Pakistan will buy Russian oil at a discounted rate starting next year, a senior Pakistani minister announced this week.

  • The decision will likely irk the US but will help Pakistan secure energy supplies while its economy is struggling.
🗞 IN OTHER NEWS…

Ukraine fatigue might be setting in

Credits: Chicago Council of Foreign Affairs.

The news: The US electorate’s support for unconditional aid to Ukraine is flagging, according to a new poll by the Chicago Council of Foreign Affairs.

  • Most Americans still back defence and economic aid to Ukraine, but respondents were split over whether Washington should lead in negotiating an end to the war.

The key findings: 

  1. 47% of respondents said the US should urge Ukraine to settle for peace ASAP, up nearly ten percentage points from July.
  2. Half believe neither Russia nor Ukraine has the upper hand.
  3. Most support accepting Ukrainian refugees while sanctioning Russia.

Why it matters: The US is by far the largest military aid donor to Ukraine, and a key ally in the pushback against Russia.

  • Declining public support and a split Congress could make it harder for the White House to maintain its current military and economic aid levels.

Zooming out, support for Ukraine is still high in other Western countries. They see a Ukrainian victory as not just a moral imperative but a necessary strategic objective.

“the only lasting peace has to be a just peace. If the aggressor wins, that will not give us a lasting peace. So the paradox is that the more we want a peaceful negotiated solution ensuring that Ukraine prevails, the more urgent it is that we provide military support”. 

While there’s no imminent split between Kyiv and its Western supporters, Ukraine fatigue is real and growing.

🤏  STORIES WE ALMOST COVERED

Here’s how you voted last week…

🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🇹🇷 Turkey is mulling another military offensive in northern Syria (13.1%)

🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🇨🇳 Qatar and China sign one of the biggest LNG deals ever (17.5%)

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 🇨🇦 Canada’s new Indo-Pacific strategy (35.4%)

🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🇿🇦 South Africa’s President is hanging on by a buffalo hair (10.9%)

🟨🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️ 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿The UK Supreme Court rejects plans for a second Scottish independence vote (23.1%)

In brief: 

  • The Canadian government recently released its new Indo-Pacific strategy, which promises to spend $1.7B over the next five years to deepen Canada’s security, economic, and diplomatic ties in the region.
  • The new strategy pledges to be more “clear-eyed about the threats and risks” posed by countries Canada “fundamentally disagrees with”.

The bottom line: Canada has reassessed its foreign policy positioning and found shortcomings in the Indo-Pacific. We expect a more outspoken Canada – especially in regards to China’s regional ambitions – and a higher degree of coordination between Ottawa and its allies in the region.

Some things to think about:

*Eligible for US-based subscribers only. Panoramic Wines sadly do not ship to the following states: AL, AK, HI, IL, KS, MI, MS, NH, ND, OK, TN, UT, WS. But if you do live in these states – you can always ship it to a friend for a holiday surprise! The giveaway closes on 14 December! 

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