Peru’s reaction to Venezuelan intervention

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On July 26 2007 "The Americas Report" ran an article entitled: "Chávez’s dangerous intervention in Perú" which described the massive protests that were occurring in different regions of Peru that reached extreme violence due to the infiltration of terrorist groups such as "Shining Path," "Patria Roja" and others.

Although some of the demands of the population are legitimate, analysts are convinced that the demonstrations are being promoted by Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez. Peru’s Prime minister, Jorge del Castillo, even declared that followers of President Chávez, especially in Puno, are internally interfering with Peru’s government in an attempt to weaken the Garcia regime.

In addition, we described Chavez’s intent on pressuring Peru into joining an alliance with Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua called the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), which Chavez bills as an alternative to U.S. free trade agreements. "ALBA is an organization made up of four countries (Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia). I don’t think they can make an NGO work. I think that it’s not ethical for them to just come in here and tomorrow say we are going to open an office in Perú boosted by Caracas. " del Castillo said, [1] adding that Venezuela is actually meddling in Peruvian affairs. Chávez has branded the office as "something merely symbolic, for the time being." To this, the Peruvian Prime Minister responded: "Whether symbolic or not, it is meddling. In this way, with a little bit of sand, a beach is being formed. Afterwards they will get the beachhead and then will enter the country." [2]

We, at "The Americas Report" decided to talk to specialists in this subject to see what legal measures could be used against this overt intervention of Hugo Chavez in Peruvian internal affairs. A prominent Peruvian lawyer, who prefers to stay in anonymity, gave us an insight of what the Garc í a regime is doing in this regard.  

In recent days, the Central government has learnt that local organized groups favoring the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez opened six offices of ALBA both in Lima and several provinces . Newspaper "La República" noted that the agencies started operations in the urban districts of Callao, Santa Rosa and Los Olivos, as well as in the Andean regions of Junín, Huancavelica and Puno. The ALBA representative in Santa Rosa, Fernando Alvarado, told the daily that the office was established one month and a half ago, to take care of extremely poor people with vision disorders and provide training on leadership for small businesses. Alvarado, also a district leader for the "Partido Nacionalista Peruano" (PNP) of Ollanta Humala, explained that the Santa Rosa office was aimed at "improving the friendship ties with Venezuela and getting access to the humanitarian people’s network "Mission Miracle," an initiative of Cuba and Venezuela. "We do not receive money or have political purposes," Alvaro said, and explained that the office is set to act as liaison between the patients and the Venezuelan embassy for health care. [3]

On a radio show hosted by journalist César Hildebrandt, Del Castillo accurately pointed out the following: "Exact evidence of interference in Peruvian internal affairs by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez can be hardly found, but there is meddling indeed as part of "a whole strategic hemispheric move,"…"It is very difficult. One cannot say, ‘here the evidence goes.’ However, something really is going on, particularly strong suspicion of funding some people or political parties." [4]

According to Peru’s Chancellor, José Antonio García Belaúnde, the appearance of the ALBA offices and the help they are providing, will be investigated by the Peruvian International Cooperation Agency (APCI).

The importance of APCI

On December 8, 2006, members of the governing Aprista party passed a law that gave the Peruvian state more control over non-governmental organizations. Of the 2,100 registered NGOs in Peru, some 900 are active. Less than 1/3 receive "state aid" (are reimbursed for sales tax). However, between 2004 and 2005, NGO’s received nearly $500 million from international aid organizations. While their development can often go hand in hand with neo-liberal policies in poor countries, replacing public services and support mechanisms formerly provided by State Owned Enterprises, they can also support popular social movements. [5] 

The new law modifies and amplifies the activities and powers of the governmental Peruvian Agency for International Cooperation (APCI). According to the law, NGO’s have to register with the APCI, and "their work plans should be in line with the development guidelines and priorities established by the state." NGO’s have to report their projects, donors and funds spent and the ones that cause public disturbances, damage public or private property or contravene proper behavior will be penalized. [6] In this case, the Peruvian government is considering ALBA as a non-governmental organization and will have to comply with the laws created for NGOs.

The Government’s response

"The installation of the ALBA offices has not been authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, therefore, is unacceptable and plagued with illegality," said Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo adding that the Peruvian government "is assessing this issue to make the relevant moves." Meanwhile, in an interview with the newspaper "El Comercio", Hernán Fuentes, regional president of Puno, said that ALBA is spreading to 13 provinces in the department of his jurisdiction. [7]

Genaro Matute, Peru’s General Controller declared that all regional governments must report all donations received by ALBA offices in their respective regions. They must give detailed information to the APCI and the Controller’s office. In addition Mr. Matute stated that the regional governments must provide information on the exact amount of donations received and how are these funds being managed. If they don’t comply, they would be acting against the law and would be denounced by the Public Ministry. The General Controller went on to say that according to the law, all foreign contributions must be monitored by the Ministry of Foreign Relations and not by a regional government. [8]              

On Monday 23 July, the Executive passed a law that prohibits any regional president, mayor, congressman or any other civil employee to participate in manifestations or strikes under penalty of jail. They will also be dismissed from their jobs for a period of time . The referred legislative decree, of a total of 11 which they were published in the official newspaper "El Peruano," was elaborated within the framework of the faculties granted to the Executive by the Parliament in the matter of citizen security, drug trafficking and terrorism. Although many agree with this initiative, others are labeling it as undemocratic. In fact, some analysts believe that this law was approved in a state of emergency and could jeopardize Alan García’s democratic commitment, hurting his political party in the nest presidential elections while benefiting Ollanta Humala, which could be catastrophic. [9]

In addition, Puno’s National Council has decided to investigate and denounce Hernán Fuentes to the authorities for establishing an ALBA office in Puno and for his close ties with Hugo Chavez. The presence of this agency has been questioned by many, including Regional President of Lambayeque, Yehude Simon who stated that he would "never" allow such an office to be placed in the region without having first sought the approval of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Regional Government itself. Simon said that Fuentes has made a mistake in placing another country’s office on Peruvian soil without having first requested the Chancellery’s permission.

Furthermore, the Vice President of Puno’s Regional Government, Mauro Justo Vilca has stated that Fuentes should reconsider his position on the issue or he could face being removed from his post. Vilca considers that Fuentes’ behavior has negatively affected Puno’s regional government and paralyzed work in the area. Vilca added that Fuentes did not let any of his 13 advisors know of his plans. "This was a personal issue for Fuentes, he didn’t let anyone know. I’m going to speak to the other advisors and hold a meeting so we can make a decision about the problems that are affecting the region," stated Vilca. [10]

Humala’s reaction

Former Peruvian presidential candidate Ollanta Humala rejected claims that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is meddling in Peruvian domestic affairs, and rather advocated an office of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) in Puno, over the border with Bolivia. "ALBA should not be rejected, and I do believe the Peruvian government should ponder joining this space of international cooperation," Humala said. According to Humala, the ALBA is good economic choice, as Peru is engaged with the United States in a Free Trade Agreement. "Having spaces to make people in our country know the ALBA would be positive," said Humala, personal friend of Hugo Chavez and allegedly behind the protests that nearly paralyzed Peru few weeks ago. [11]


Problem with ALBA offices in Peru

The APCI visited the ALBA offices in Puno to collect information on its activities and stated that it did not meet with the registration requirements stated by law. Even more, the "House of ALBA" has not even initiated the necessary proceedings as an international cooperation entity, a necessary prerequisite to send patients to hospitals abroad. The APCI declared that indeed an organization with the name of "House of ALBA" was registered in Puno on March 28, 2007, as non-profit civil association which is dedicated to send patients with eye problems to be treated in "Bolivarian hospitals". However, the APCI states that the House of ALBA has not registered any non-reimbursable international cooperation project in the Budget Planning and Territorial Organization of Puno’s Regional Government, entity that should have approved the project to be able to be registered in the APCI. [12]


It is crucially important that the Peruvian government dispose of the legal means to effectively neutralize Chavez’s influence in the region. The laws pertaining NGO seem to be a good tool to counterbalance Chavez influence via the presence of the ALBA offices in Peru.  Accountability by organizations operating within the Peruvian national territory is vital. If the Government finds that the organization is provoking social unrest, the proper measures should be adopted. The fact that ALBA offices were not authorized seems to be in open violation with Peruvian laws and these laws should be properly applied.

In addition, the Garcia regime should secure an adequate monitoring of regional activities by the national government without undermining regional autonomies. If indeed what Peru’s general controller says that all foreign donations to regional governments must be reported to the national government, the question that ensues is to what extend the national government has the legal power to block donations that come from Hugo Chavez aimed at interfering in Peru’s internal affairs. If there is such legal power it should be applied. If there is no such legal power, adequate laws aimed at curbing such damaging activities should be legislated following proper process and legislative-executive power cooperation.

It is also critically important that the government does not engage in non-democratic or unconstitutional practices. For example the executive decree that penalizes public employees and public officials to participate in demonstrations could be perceived as an authoritarian measure aimed at silencing civil protest or even the opposition. If such perception exists, this could be used by pro-Chavez groups and dangerous individuals like Humala as a tool of propaganda and mobilization against the constitutional regime of Peru in general and against the Alan Garcia government in particular. Therefore, it is crucial that the Peruvian government refrain from non-democratic practices.

We will continue to explore the legal possibilities of counterbalancing the influence of Hugo Chavez in the next issues of the "America’s Report".  This is a problem that Perú is now confronting but other countries will no doubt follow suit.

Meanwhile, it is of utmost importance that the U.S. should help its allies in the region against the "Chavista" influence. An interest initiative would be the ratification of the Free Trade Agreements with Panama, Perú, and Colombia. Colombia and Peru are at the brink of falling into Hugo Chavez’s hands and it is difficult to understand why the US or the Democrats in this case are postponing the signing of these agreements.

  1. Del Castillo: El chavismo pretende desestabilizar el país. July 5, 2007. Diario Expreso, Perú.
  2. Perú acusó a Chávez de injerencia extranjera. July 6, 2007. Radio LV12, Argentina.
  3. Venezuela ya tiene 6 oficinas de Alba en Lima y en el interior del país. August 1, 2007. Diario La República.
  4. Primer ministro peruano: No hay pruebas de injerencia venezolana, pero existe. July 20, 2007. El Universal, Venezuela.
  5. Presidente regional debe reportar donaciones del ALBA en Puno o será denunciado. July 20, 2007. 24 Horas, Perú.
  6. 24 Horas – Ibid.
  7. Chávez: Oficina del ALBA en Perú es ”simbólica’ ‘ y no representa ninguna "injerencia." July 16, 2007. RPP, Perú.
  8. Región Puno debe reportar donaciones de ALBA ante APCI y Contraloría. July 20, 2007. Diario Correo, Perú.
  9. Presidentes regionales que se sumen a huelgas serán inhabilitados. July 23, 2007. Diario Correo, Perú.
  10. Peru: Regional President could Lose Position after ALBA Decision. July 10, 2007. Living in Perú.
  11. Chávez dice que ALBA en Puno es "simbólica". July 17, 2007. Perú 21, Perú.
  12. Casa de ALBA en Puno obvió requisitos de inscripción. July 31, 2007. 24 Horas, Perú.
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