Peru: Rich economy, poor political leaders

By Eddy Montilla.

In Peru, people don’t think twice to show their discontent with presidents. These days, when President Humala’s approval rating sinks to all-time low (25 per cent), it is a good moment to reflect on what has happened to Peruvian political leaders and where the good ones have gone.

     Peru has one of the highest poverty reduction rates in Latin America. Thanks to its solid economic growth rate (estimated at around 6 per cent), poverty fell from 50% half-way during the last decade to 26% in 2012. However, since the first years of Alberto Fujimori as president (before turning into a dictator) until today, Peru has not seen a charismatic and good politician leader able to take advantage of the economic following winds that they have at present to narrow the gap between rich and poor. In each election, you find the same people with the same unfeasible ideas and promises.

     Sometimes, when you see countries like Brazil, Chile or Mexico, some people talk about how lucky people have been there with some presidents who did a decent or good job. But I don’t believe in luck and the only solution that I can see for Peru is to work harder and try to detect and educate new political and social leaders. It seems contradictory, but you have to find solutions to serious problems in small contexts. A new generation of Peruvian leaders could be in some cultural associations, for example. A better president might be a leader of some neighborhood, a member of some intellectual circle or one of those who lost faith in politics and refuses to participate again in these activities.

      Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank President, said once: “Leaders must improve their ability to deliver services to the poor…” I have not seen this vision in any Peruvian president in more than a decade and that could explain why, according to The Economist, citing the political scientist Steven Levitsky, since 1997 no Peruvian president has managed to sustain an approval rating of over 50 per cent. If Peru does not use its dynamic economy to grow now, it will be very difficult to do it in the future. Then, the country has to find good political leaders as soon as possible because with good players and a bad coach, you can win games, but not championships.

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion with Eddy Montilla.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved.


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