It has been more than a year since the Government of Hugo Chavez attempted to sway the Peruvian election in his favour by providing support to his candidate Ollanta Humala. At a time when foreign investment in the mining industry was and still is carrying almost 50% of the economy the idea was to kick out these investors and nationalise the industry. When Chavez resorted to insulting Humala’s opponents on his marathon TV show this led Peru to cut diplomatic ties in protest. After some months, Chavez came close to apologising when he met with President Alan Garcia and ties were restored.
In recent weeks the Peruvian Government have again found themselves protesting at Venezuelan influence in the country. To counteract and provide an alternative to the free trade agreement between some Latin American nations, including Peru, and the United States, Chavez along with his allies in Cuba, Bolivia and Ecuador are proposing a different non-capitalist way to develop the South American continent. This involves Venezuela using its unlimited supply of oil to fund health and education projects via ALBA, a non-profit organisation. The help provided to the poorest of the poor by ALBA is not limited to member nations, those mentioned, but also has an office in Puno in Peru. Such organisations are legal and publicly welcomed by Peru – despite restrictive laws being placed on them last year to force them to focus on Government targets. Peru’s protest focuses on ALBA’s political influence.
In Peru, Non-Profit Organisations are not allowed to involve themselves in political activity or promote or favour politicians whether domestic and foreign. Peru accuses ALBA of doing just that. If you were to walk into the ALBA office in Puno, as various Peruvian news networks did in the past weeks, you will see a room adorned with Venezuelan flags and portraits of Hugo Chavez. The poor given help by the organisation are told exactly who is to thank for their hospital treatment.
The politicising of the organisations work led to protests by Peru’s Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo who harshly criticised the Regional President Hernán Fuentes, who announced the creation of a second office in Juliaca, for allowing the office to be based there.
The newspaper Correo showed images some days ago from the jungle province of Loreto that they claim proves there is a political agenda behind all of the social help the ALBA offices and the Venezuelan government are giving. 105 people were flowed to Venezuela for eye-surgery, carrying red pro-Chavez banners and his photos. Locals alleged that carrying the banners was the price the patients had to pay the foreign surgery.