Today is Peru’s independence day, ordinarily an occasion for great celebrations in one of Latin America’s most important nations.
Tragically, this year’s anniversary may be the last to be celebrated by Peruvians in a democratic, increasingly prosperous and sovereign country.
Think of it as a farewell party to the Free World.
An election in June alleged to have been riddled with fraud resulted last week in a narrow victory for Pedro Castillo, a Marxist schoolteacher accused of having ties to the Shining Path terrorist group. He has declared his intention to rewrite the country’s constitution so as to, among other things, enable him to serve more than a single term. Other communists have parlayed such latitude into protracted holds on power.
Despite a victory margin of only 40,000, his Leninist Free Peru party claims a mandate for radical policies that would threaten to fundamentally transform Peru. It would also further traumatize a region already reeling from the cumulative effects of totalitarian misrule, endemic corruption, narco-trafficking, mass illegal migration and the Chinese Communist Party virus. And we in the United States will not be immune to the ripple effects of what’s seemingly in store for the Peruvian people.
Precisely what Castillo will do and when remains to be seen. He has tried to distance himself from his own party, Free Peru, after the public text of the party’s political platform alarmed the continent. Notably, Castillo has refused to condemn the text or leave the party, insisting merely that he is not a communist.
The party itself makes no secret of its admiration for the hemisphere’s most revolutionary leftist leaders, including the Castros of Cuba and Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, who have destroyed once-promising economies and countries. A number of them came to Lima to witness the new president’s inauguration today.
Typically, such leaders’ playbooks involve a combination of: nationalizing key industries and running them into the ground; imposing a centrally planned economy which inevitably fails to provide the promised growth and prosperity; the seizure and redistribution of land and other property, with all the attendant social as well as economic turmoil; government involvement with criminal enterprises that prosper from the cultivation, movement and/or sale of drugs; corrupt officials, judges, and law enforcement; and, not least, the prominent presence and enormous influence of Cuban, Iranian/Hezbollah, Russian and Chinese intelligence, security and/or “business” personnel.
Should Castillo in fact implement such policies in Peru, the likely repercussions are not hard to predict. Look no further than Venezuela under Messrs. Chávez and Maduro. That once-prosperous nation with its vast oil reserves has been reduced to its present status as one of the most oppressive, crime-wracked, and bankrupt countries in the world. Its government is, as a practical matter, a narco-regime. And many millions of its people have fled the political repression and starvation, seeking refuge in Peru and elsewhere, including the United States.
Some experts believe that – unlike Venezuela’s Chávez, who took his time boiling the proverbial frog by instituting communist changes incrementally – Castillo (or more to the point, the radicals around him for whom he is but a front-man) are determined to effect their Marxist makeover of Peru quickly.
The consequences of such a transformation will, of course, be felt most dramatically by the Peruvian people. The instability that could ensue from a potential nationalization of Peru’s mines, or Lima terminating cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, redistribution of assets in the name of “land reform,” and intensifying collaboration with the likes of the regimes in Havana, Tehran, Moscow, and Beijing would, however, be a blight on the region, as well. Thanks especially to the Chinese coronavirus, Chile, Colombia, and Brazil are already on the ropes and upcoming elections could produce similar results to Peru’s in at least two of the three.
It is, moreover, predictable that a destabilized Peru will be harmful to U.S. interests, including here at home. Losing a friendly, generally aligned nation to narco-traffickers, Marxists, and foreign adversaries will prove costly in a variety of ways. For example, a disruption of Peruvian supplies of copper, other minerals, and raw materials would prove harmful to our economy. A surge in cocaine smuggling would intensify America’s already serious narcotics-driven public health crisis. And the Biden-induced invasion of our southern border will be greatly exacerbated by the emigration of potentially millions of Peruvians.
For all these reasons, one might have expected that the U.S. government would have sought to ensure that the allegedly widespread election fraud that enabled Castillo to lay claim to Peru’s presidency would be forensically investigated. Instead, for weeks after the election in June, it did essentially nothing. Perhaps such passivity was due to an unwillingness to dignify forensic investigations of electoral integrity at a moment when the Biden-Harris administration’s legitimacy is itself under scrutiny. Alternatively, it may simply have been prompted by sympathy for Marxist revolutions much in evidence these days in the Democratic Party and parts of the federal government’s executive and legislative branches.
Whatever the reason, we are likely to look back at the present moment with great regret for our having interposed no objection to the Marxists’ lopping off of yet another chunk of the Free World – an action that will be disastrous in its own right, but surely will also encourage freedom’s enemies to redouble their efforts to force the submission of still more countries, including our own.
Frank J. Gaffney is the founder and Executive Chairman of the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C.