Sunday, April 02, 2006

Ollanta Humala's Peruvian Presidential Hopes

Latin Americans are finally beginning to react to decades of American occupation and dictatorship in the region. Led by Venezuelan Hugo Chavez, socialist candidates have democratically taken power in Chile, Bolivia, and Brazil. Thus far, these leaders have carried the torch of Chile's Salvador Allende and avoided devolving into Stalinist dictatorships like Castro's Cuba. Ollanta Humala is slated to be the newest addition to South America's revolutionary leader club in the upcoming Peruvian election.

Humala has never held public office before, but he has still managed to brand himself as a Guevera-esque hero of the oppressed in Peru. Taking cues from Bolivia's Evo Morales, Humala has promised to fight for the rights of the indigenous populations and redistribute land to the peasants Humala's opponent is Lourdes Flores, and arch-conservative freemarketeer who's longtime support of free trade has made her an enemy of the Peruvian masses.

Humala has also promised to follow in the steps of Hugo Chavez and nationalize some of Peru's gas and mining industries. As in Venezuela, these sectors have been traditionally dominated by foreign corporations who have no regard for the nations poor. By harnessing the profits of these lucrative natural resources, Chavez has managed to provide education, food, and land to the impoverished Venezuelan masses. Humala's nationalization of Peru's industries will provide similar social programs to Peru's poor.

Thus far, Ollanta Humala has managed to stay ahead of Flores in the polls. Many on the left and the right have concerns that Humala's family history may influence him into creating an authoritarian state. As socialists dedicated to democracy, we should ensure that Humala keeps his promises of democracy and progress to the Peruvian people.