Martín Tanaka: “Pedro Castillo has not put any specific initiative on the table in his six months in office”

| Photo: CNN

President peter castle He has just completed six months in power. This short time, however, has been characterized by a lack of transparency, scandals due to misappointments and the absence of a road map drawn up by the government to implement their campaign proposals. The political noise has moved to the confrontation with the opposition of the Congress of the republic.

Faced with this polarized panorama, inherited from the last electoral campaign, Infobae interviewed the renowned political scientist Martin Tanaka, who mentions that the political crisis has been generated, in part, by Castillo himself who does not dare to define what course they want to choose for their management. The consequence of that indecision is currently being observed: 60% disapprove of the president. And with the shadow of a vacancy that the opposition has not yet ruled out.

-You said, when you made a balance of the first hundred days of Pedro Castillo’s government, that your main problem was its lack of definition. Do you think that the president is subject to requests or pressure within the Peruvian left?

– Well, it is a continuation of that diagnosis, but with the aggravating circumstance that more time has passed. Lately he has been seen as president giving interviews when he was not as a candidate. Somewhat pressured by public opinion, he had to give interviews, but he did not come out of them well.

– What image did the president leave?

– A worrying lack of direction and a kind of disorientation, right? He himself admits in one of these interviews that no one trained him or trained him to govern. And that, in addition, he has indicated that governing has been much more difficult than he would have imagined. He has said it explicitly. Now, in the midst of this, I would also like to add that what saves the president is, paradoxically, the polarization that he arouses among the political elite.

– To what extent can this political polarization help you?

– In the sense that there is a very belligerent and maximalist right-wing opposition. Indeed, he is playing with the scenario of the declaration of the vacancy from day one of his government. And, clearly, they are looking for any pretext to materialize this. I think that this also generates in more moderate sectors a rejection of that most recalcitrant opposition. So, the president is navigating between these two extremes: an electorate that was willing to vote for him in the second round, which is surely in large part disappointed, and on the other with a very extreme and recalcitrant right. That is why it has managed to survive in the midst of these extremes for now. I think he should take definitions now. For example, an illustration of the definitions to be taken is the role played by the President of the Council of Ministers. The feeling that is left is that he does not have good communication with her, who seems to be tied up with no possibility of moving forward.

– By not relying on his political operators, does Castillo contribute to his own presidential isolation?

– The president is trying to look good with several groups. But the problem is that the practical consequence is that it doesn’t look good with any of them. He does not arouse the trust or full support of anyone and, therefore, all the support he receives is highly conditional. And since he also does not express support for the different groups, none can develop any initiative in any direction. That is why, beyond the president’s radical speech, in terms of specific policies, you don’t see that they are doing much, right? In other words, inertia prevails a lot. The ministers have been very restricted in their action.

– You pointed out, before Castillo took office, that you should draw up a government that works on sectoral and regional initiatives. This, moreover, had to be accompanied by constitutional reforms. Was none of this fulfilled due to the lack of transparency, questioned designations and without a roadmap to govern?

– Yes, I agree with that. The daily public political discussion is full of complaints, scandals, denials, requests for resignation and that is how the weeks of these six months have passed us by. We have not talked about agrarian development, about education reform, about support for the southern Andean regions. We are not talking about substantive issues because the president has also not put any specific initiative on the table. A few months ago he spoke about a second agrarian reform. That sounded interesting, but weeks have passed and nothing has materialized. In other words, it only remained in an announcement and in small, very low-profile initiatives. We need to recover a more substantive debate on how to reactivate the economy, develop or combat poverty.

– Could it be that the president does not propose a specific policy because, in part, he is very badly surrounded? Is it incapable of summoning professionals from other tendencies beyond the left?

– I think I could do it if I had the lucidity and the will to do it. He has around him a group that is very far left and against which he does not feel in a position to break. That is the group that tells him that we have to talk about the Constituent Assembly, about the new Constitution, about refounding the country, about denouncing neoliberalism. There is another group that tells you that you must preserve macroeconomic stability and promote investment. And you have another group that talks about a human rights agenda. The president does not decide to take a definite course in any direction. He listens to everyone and makes small concessions. That’s why the ship doesn’t move much. It moves very slowly because the rudder goes from one side to the other.

– Much was also said about “humalization” so that Castillo can get back on track. Do you see that you could do it?

– The least I have seen in the president is to make a consistent and firm decision. Play it for something. One of those scenarios is that of “humalization”. In other words, I explicitly break my alliance with that group of the most radical left with which I came to power and seek to govern as a center-left option. I make a public break like what Ollanta Humala did. Well, that is a path with its advantages and disadvantages.

– What advantages could I get?

– It would give more stability to your government. Of course it also has a complicated side.

– Which one?

– That their voters feel cheated. That, let’s say, the discourse of change has been betrayed. So, this “humalization” should also be accompanied by specific initiatives for your electorate so that you don’t feel left out, right? I think that could be an option, but that is a path that should be followed consciously of its advantages and disadvantages. What’s worse is that he doesn’t make any decisions. And it is not that it is being “humalized” but that inertia is prevailing, simply. These six months, seen in retrospect, there has been no important initiative and the political debate has been filled with denunciations and confrontation with the most extreme right. One, for example, opens the newspaper in the morning and finds that the possibility slips that the president can be accused of treason for having said that Peru could give Bolivia an outlet to the sea. And this is partly because of the president’s statement and is taken by a representative of the opposition who says that he can be impeached for treason. It seems to me a tremendous exaggeration, but that is what stirs up the political debate.

– Quite apart from the president’s indecision, it is also that his allies are not very helpful. You said that the leftist coalition that supports Castillo will have more fissures in the coming months. Would this further weaken the government by not having a cohesive bloc in Congress that defends and supports its proposals?

– If one looks at the parliamentary stage, you say that the president is in a somewhat strange situation. Because, to try to understand why it is so difficult for him to make decisions, he needs the votes of Peru Libre in Congress. If Peru Libre ends up going into opposition, the president could be declared vacant. So, I imagine that the parliamentarians will tell the president that he needs them. Because, otherwise, he falls. I am telling you this to block vacancy initiatives. On the other hand, with Peru Libre it does not have a majority. To approve things, you need to build a majority that comes from the votes of the other parties like Popular Action and Alliance for Progress that we have seen in recent months. So that’s it the great challenge of the president to ensure the loyalty of that sector of the left, but at the same time to have the votes of these center-right groups that are essential to have a majority. Now how do you solve that? Putting forward a specific agenda to address issues such as education, agricultural development, taxation. That is to say, to leave the ideological debate to take it to the one of the concrete proposals. That is the way out that the president should seek.

– But it gets a little complicated if we have sectors of the government that also propose an anti-reformist agenda. In Congress, a part of his bench is against Sunedu, there has been no progress with the police reform and in Transport there is the questioned Minister Juan Silva.

– Yes, I totally agree. On one side I put ministers like Mirtha Vásquez and Pedro Francke, but on the other the example you just mentioned. The president tries to reward his closest political circle and opens up to other sectors of the left and center in a measured way. The problem is that he is realizing that this is not working for him. Because his most loyal ministers end up failing him through incompetence and conservatism. Many of them are forced to resign. That is a very worrying pattern in the appointments that are made for political retribution rather than for management objectives. A few days ago, Daniel Salaverry resigned from Peru-Petro. He is one more example of that kind of behavior. I am going to give an important position to a person who supported me in the campaign as a form of political retribution, but it turns out that he does not have the profile or a clear objective for the institution. The balance of this maneuver is discredit, criticism and loss of prestige.

– How much could Castillo’s administration affect the political future of the Peruvian left?

– Unfortunately, the last efforts of the left have been very disappointing. The last precedent was that of Susana Villarán in the municipality of Lima. And now with Castillo in the presidency it is very mediocre. But there is a deeper issue that is also worrying, which is the establishment of a right-wing extremist discourse that obviously affects the left and also the political culture of the country. When you have an opposition leader like Admiral Montoya, who says that paying homage to a monument to all the victims of violence is being an accomplice to terrorism, you put at stake the credibility of the left and the possibilities of civilized coexistence in the country. We have a right-wing discourse that is being accentuated through characters like Rafael López Aliaga, who is tremendously conservative and exclusionary.

– Could the mistakes of the left contribute to the extremist discourse of the right continuing to permeate?

– Unfortunately, the leadership of the opposition to the government in Parliament is in those extremist sectors. And that is his political bet to continue advancing. Rafael López Aliaga has said that he will be a candidate for mayor of Lima. This sector has a clear strategy and it is very worrying because its discourse is very exclusionary. They are still isolated, but within that group they have become more radicalized.


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