Peru- My Story of My Home

I am only a simple citizen of a small country that I love known as Peru. My name is Humberto de la Cruz. Perhaps some would say that I have little to distribute to the worldwide conversation and maybe some would ask, “Where is Peru”. I believe that Peru is a land of great potential although things can be a little saddening at times. Each country has had its time where it must make mistakes and grow little by little. I wanted to tell my story of my country from my point of view- the point of view of a small business owner in Trujillo. I got into the Internet café business when I was 26. I had the luck to have parents with a little bit of money and they had bought a small number of computers to put into the bottom floor of our home. I was put in charge, as I was the oldest of 4 children.
I am sorry. I forget. This is not the story of me. This is story of my country. But my story could not have been told without my country. Here, everyone is free to use the Internet without regulation. My business could not have prospered so much if it had not been for the freedom here in Peru to start my business and allow people to come and communicate through the world-wide-web. As people come to these larger towns from out of the hills of places such as Cajamarca and become educated they are able to come to my Internet café (for only 1 sol per hour) and communicate with people throughout the world and read anything available to them on the web.
I’ve been able to learn much from the Internet. I find it interesting to find information concerning my own country. It is funny how we can live in a place and so many can know so little about that place where they live. For example, I feel that my country can be corrupt at times. I had told you before we grow and we learn. I’ve learned that I’m not alone and 90 per cent of the citizens here also feel that the country is corrupt. It turns out, according to one website that I found we rank 72 out of 180 nations in corruption. That means that we are less corrupt than 108 countries. The glass is more than half full.
The corruption is one of the only things that affect our civil and political liberties. To tell the truth the situation has improved a great amount just in my lifetime. Our current president, Alan Garcia, was president when I was born back in the 80’s. It is a funny story. When he was elected recently he had campaigned focusing much of his time on people my age. I guess it is because he wanted people who couldn’t remember his presidency. Under his reign, Peru suffered from hyperinflation and he would look at the United States as an overbearing power. His Presidency wasn’t as bad as those that would follow him. President Fujimori was over the country for much of my youth and it is a miracle that we survived him. He had changed much of our government and had rigged elections. I am so proud of the Peruvian people because they would not stand for this man any longer. We were upset. So in 2001 he was forced to resign. Alan Garcia quickly came back from hiding that year and started running for president. Garcia was in hiding because Fujimori had wanted to put him in jail during Fujimori’s presidency. This is another good example of how our corruption restricted some of our political and civil freedoms.
In 2001 Garcia lost the election to another bad President. A president that would be the least popular in all of Latin America named Toledo. I cannot complain too much about him because it was while he was president that I was able to start my Internet business. He did not restrict me very much. I, however, am only one of millions here in Peru. Poverty is very bad in many parts and Toledo has done very little to spread the wealth. He knows what it is like being poor. He had overcome his class to be President. The poor here complain that he did not remember the poor. He lived in his nice home and spent all the government money but did little to help the poor of our country. Peru is very rich in minerals and other products but this wealth is held only for a few and is exported to the many European and American companies who excavate those products.
When Alan finally gained the Presidency again in 2006 he was a new man. He ran on the stance that he would tax those companies that were taking our countries natural resources. He was more intelligent about it too. He was said to be taking advice from economist Hernando de Soto, known for arguing that free trade is the best way for developing nations to move out of poverty. Because of economic globalization, he said, he realized that reassuring international investors would be an important part of his job. So although he taxed the companies in order to keep more of our countries riches, he did not kick out these companies like his opponent Ollanta might have done. With the extra tax money in hand he cut many government programs and wages, including his own. This gave our country a surplus. He had studied the economic rise of Chili while he was in hiding and he was prepared this time as president to succeed.
Of course we can’t always succeed in everything and some would say that Alan Garcia could still do more to help the poor of Peru. He has still kept the social program of Toledo where families get paid if their children go to school and get immunized, but the schools oftentimes do little for our children because there are few well prepared teachers. It is hard on families to have children go to school and learn little when they could be making money for the family. These types of circumstances can be hard on families and they create a dangerous atmosphere. Domestic violence has become epidemic where over half of Peruvian women say there have been instances of physical or mental abuse of them within the home. At least Alan Garcia has put an even amount of Men and Women into his Cabinet to set an example of equality, but our countries still have strides to make in civil rights especially at the base level. I still see friends my age that treat women wrongly and there are not enough of us who realize that it is wrong.
It is also hard to make the case for Garcia that his run for presidency was completely clean. There are cases that say campaign finance may have had a good portion of drug money for candidates, especially in the local races for congress. I know our congressman doesn’t belong in his office. Although I do see many problems in my country I am optimistic. We are a young country and we are in a great time where we have had many democratic leaders. Who knows? I may emerge one day from my small business here to be President of Peru. I have a lot to learn still, but I have the internet in front of me almost 10 hours a day and the passion for my country to change it for the better.

Appendix
• Leader attitudes:
Alan Garcia
Rising to Power
· Born middle-class
· Studied Law in Lima and Madrid
· Studied Sociology in Paris
· Under his rule there was hyper inflation
· In 1990 he left office.
· Fled the country in 1992 facing corruption charges (accused of embezzling millions)
· Hid in Germany, France and Colombia. (Became an author of many books)
· In 2001, Peru’s Supreme Court ruled the statute of limitations on the corruption charges facing Mr. Garcia – which he had always denied – had run out.
· He returned to Peru to stand in presidential elections.
· He lost to Alejandro Toledo – but only by a slender margin
· And in 2006, to the astonishment of many onlookers, Mr. Garcia triumphantly regained the presidency.
· He focused heavily on attracting the youth vote, many of whom had only vague memories of his time as president.
· He launched a bid to woo female voters, promising to appoint an equal number of women and men in his Cabinet, and to achieve equal pay for both sexes
· He promised to create thousands of jobs and to divert more of the country’s mineral wealth to the poor by taxing mining firms’ profits. At the same time, he assured investors he would maintain fiscal prudence.
· “My desire is not to repeat any of the errors I may have made,” he said recently. “Do you think I want my tombstone to read: ‘He was so stupid that he made the same mistakes twice’?
· “There will be no inflation. I am going to make absolutely sure of that, because the name my children will inherit depends on it.”
· During the presidential campaign, he argued the need for changes in the text agreed by Toledo, but these doubts seem to have dissipated in the face of real politic. Although ratified by the outgoing Peruvian congress, it now seems unlikely that the FTA will be considered by the United States congress before the US’s mid-term elections in November 2006.
· The pattern of Garcia’s pre-inauguration travels – which have included trips to Brasilia, Santiago and Bogotá – suggest the flavor of likely alliances within Latin America. Peru will seek to align itself with governments that are moderate in their economic policies and prepared to do business with Washington.
· Alan Garcia has promised to maintain Toledo’s flagship social program, called Juntos. Like Bolsa Familiar in Brazil and Oportunidades in Mexico, this is a scheme for making direct payments to poor households where families accept the conditions attached by sending their children to school and having the stipulated health injections. The main problem here is that the program (if implemented throughout the country) is fiscally expensive and is dependent on the highly deficient educational and health provision offered by the relevant ministries. Many families complain, for example, that there is little point in sending their children to school when there are not adequate numbers of qualified teachers and when children can earn money for the family by going to work.
• Political rights and civil rights
Country political rights civil rights status
Peru 2 3 Free

Chalenges to Civil and Political rights include :
Remnants of the Shining Path, in league with drug traffickers, carried out a series of well-organized attacks against police that left over a dozen officers dead or wounded in 2007. The attacks, which increased toward the end of the year, caused consternation regarding the lack of progress in controlling cocaine production and distribution. Despite the capture of several important Shining Path figures, many analysts perceived increasing pressure from drug trafficking on Peruvian institutions.

Peru is an electoral democracy. Elections in 2006 were conducted in a generally free and fair atmosphere, according to international observers. Complaints focused on poor logistics and information distribution in rural areas, as well as the disenfranchisement of the roughly one million Peruvians lacking official identification papers.
The president and the 120-member, unicameral Congress are elected for five-year terms. Congressional balloting employs an open-list, region-based system of proportional representation. A measure introduced in 2006 required parties to garner at least 4 percent of the total vote to win seats. Checks on campaign financing were weak, however, and allegations surfaced that drug money played a role in multiple campaigns, particularly during local elections.
A lack of programmatic coherence and occasional party-switching by politicians have discredited political parties in the eyes of Peruvians, which reinforces a broader trend toward political fragmentation.
Indigenous groups, which account for nearly half of the Peruvian population by some measures, have generally sought political expression through nationalism or class-based ideologies rather than ethnic solidarity. However, several political parties have attempted to capture the support of both jungle- and mountain-dwelling indigenous groups.
Corruption is a serious problem. According to a November 2007 survey, over 90 percent of Peruvians characterized the public sector as “corrupt” or “very corrupt.” A number of corruption scandals made headlines in 2007, particularly the attempted purchase of overpriced police cars, which cost Interior Minister Pilar Mazzetti her job. A new National Anticorruption Office was established in October, although some analysts questioned its autonomy. Peru was ranked 72 out of 180 countries surveyed in Transparency International’s 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index.
The press is for the most part privately owned and lively, but journalists face significant limitations. They are frequently intimidated and even attacked by local officials and private interests. In March 2007, journalist Miguel Perez was assassinated in Cajamarca region after reporting on local corruption. In a controversial decision, a court in November found the mayor of Pucallpa not guilty of planning the 2004 killing of journalist Alberto Rivera. Low pay leaves journalists susceptible to bribery, while media outlets remain dependent on advertising by large retailers. The government does not limit access to the internet.
The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the government generally respects it in practice. However, the Roman Catholic Church receives preferential treatment from the state. The government does not restrict academic freedom.
The constitution provides for the right of peaceful assembly, and the authorities uphold this right for the most part. However, in the wake of protests that convulsed the country and left three people dead in July 2007, the executive branch issued several decrees that were viewed as impinging on the right to protest, particularly by threatening to strip government officials of their posts if they participated in protests. Freedom of association is also generally respected. The government of former president Alejandro Toledo permitted the unhindered operation of human rights NGOs. However, shortly after entering office, President Alan Garcia and other APRA leaders criticized NGOs for hindering economic development and for a perceived lack of transparency. Congress in November 2006 passed restrictive legislation, but in September 2007, the Constitutional Court struck down a number of the law’s more contentious clauses, pleasing local and international NGOs.
Peruvian law recognizes the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively. Although workers exercise the right to strike, strikers are required to notify the Ministry of Labor in advance, with the result that nearly all strikes are categorized as illegal. Less than 5 percent of the formal-sector workforce is unionized, reflecting a legacy of hostility by the Alberto Fujimori regime, cuts to public sector jobs, more flexible labor policies, and other free-market reforms.
The judiciary is the single most distrusted Peruvian institution. After Toledo took office in 2001, the Ministry of Justice worked to undo some of the damage wrought by Fujimori, implementing a broad anticorruption campaign and reducing the number of provisional judges. Current Supreme Court president Francisco Tavara has demonstrated considerable will to confront entrenched interests, and investigations of judicial misdeeds have soared, but resources for an overhaul remain scarce. Popular perceptions of the justice system—that it is an inefficient, overloaded bureaucracy riddled with political influence and greed—have changed little. In addition, the election by Congress of four new Constitutional Court members in June 2007 generated controversy due to a lack of transparency in the process.
Although crime is not high by regional standards, it continues to increase in much of the country. An estimated 70 percent of inmates are in pretrial detention, and many prisons are severely overcrowded. In July 2006, an adversarial justice system was introduced in the district of Huaura with the hope that it would speed up and ensure greater fairness in judicial proceedings. Torture and ill-treatment by the security forces remain concerns.
Toledo’s government retained control of the military but did not address the serious professional deformations promoted during Fujimori’s rule. Under Allan Wagner, who served as defense minister until December 2007, the military attempted to clarify its rules of engagement when acting in a law enforcement capacity. In 2007, Congress passed a law recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that obliges military members to disobey orders that are contrary to human rights standards. However, Congress continues to ignore an April 2006 Constitutional Court ruling that active military officers cannot serve as military justices.
The election of Toledo, who boasted of his indigenous heritage, was considered a watershed given the prevalent racism among the middle and upper classes. However, the government’s failure to strengthen community justice mechanisms has been accompanied by recent incidents of vigilante violence, including lynchings, in the predominantly indigenous highlands. In addition, Garcia’s calls to increase exploitation of natural resources have increased tensions with indigenous groups concerned about the environmental effects of mining, logging, and hydrocarbons exploration.
In recent years, women have advanced into leadership roles in various companies and government agencies. In March 2007, Garcia signed the Law of Opportunities, which is intended to combat employment discrimination. Domestic violence is epidemic, with over half of Peruvian women reporting instances of physical or emotional violence. Penalties for abuse of domestic workers, who are often exploited, were increased in 2007. Forced labor, including child labor, exists in the gold-mining region of the Amazon.

• Corruption index
The CPI should be interpreted as a ranking of countries with scores ranging from 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (highly clean).
Country rank 2007 CPI score confidence range
72 3.5 3.4-3.7

• Election Guide

The President is elected by popular vote to serve a 5-year term.
In the Congress of the Republic (Congreso de la Republica del Peru) 120 members are elected by popular vote to serve 5-year terms.
The elections are every 5 yrs and will not happen until 2011.

At stake in this election:
The office of President of Peru
Description of government structure:
Chief of State: President Alejandro TOLEDO Manrique
Head of Government: President Alejandro TOLEDO Manrique
Assembly: Peru has a unicameral Congress of the Republic (Congreso de la Republica) with 120 seats.
Description of electoral system:
The President is elected by popular vote to serve a 5-year term.
In the Congress of the Republic (Congreso de la Republica), 120 members are elected through a party-list proportional representation system to serve 5-year terms.
Candidates in the Second Round of the Presidential race:
Alan GARCIA Pérez**
Party: Peruvian Aprista Party / Partido Aprista Peruano (PAP)
Ollanta HUMALA Tasso*
Party: Union for Peru / Unión por el Perú
Main Candidates in the First Round of the Presidential race:
Ollanta HUMALA Tasso*
Party: Union for Peru / Unión por el Perú
Alan GARCIA Pérez**
Party: Peruvian Aprista Party / Partido Aprista Peruano (PAP)
Lourdes FLORES Nano***
Coalition: National Unity / Unidad Nacional (UN)
Martha CHAVEZ****
Alliance: Alliance for the Future / Alianza por el Futuro (AF 2006)
Valentín PANIAGUA*****
Alliance: Center Front / Frente de Centro (AFC)
* Ollanta Humala is the leader of the Peruvian Nationalist Party (Partido Nacionalista Peruano PNP), but is running under the Union for Peru (Unión por el Perú) banner.
** PAP is also known by its original name the American Revolutionary People’s Alliance (Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana -APRA).
*** In 2000, Lourdes Flores led the Christian People’s Party (PPC) in joining with the Renewal Party (Partido Renovación) and the Party of National Solidarity (Partido Solidaridad Nacional) to form the National Unity (Unidad Nacional) electoral alliance.
**** AF 2006 is made up of an alliance between Change ’90 (Cambio ’90- C’90) and the New Majority party (Nueva Mayoría – NM). 
***** AFC is a coalition formed by the Popular Action party (Acción Popular – AP), We are Peru (Somos Peru – SP), and the National Coordination of Independents (Coordinadora Nacional de Independientes – CNI).
Last Presidential election:
The last presidential election was held on April 8, 2001, with a runoff election held on June 3, 2001. In the runoff, Alejandro TOLEDO Manrique was elected president with 53.1% of the vote against Alan GARCIA with 46.9%. These elections took place four years ahead of schedule.
Population and number of registered voters:
Population: 27,925,628 (July 2005 est.)
Registered Voters: 16,494,906 (April 2006 )
Population: 27,925,628 (July 2005 est.)

How Alan Gracia feels about globalizm
Source: http://www.notablebiographies.com/newsmakers2/2007-Co-Lh/Garcia-Alan.html
He was said to be taking advice from economist Hernando de Soto, known for arguing that free trade is the best way for developing nations to move out of poverty.
Because of economic globalization, he said, he realized that reassuring international investors would be an important part of his job.

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