PERU: Vizcarra Dissolves Congress, Consolidates Power

Photo: Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra delivers a national message from the government palace in Lima

By Mike Talavera

On Monday, Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra declared the country’s congress dissolved, a move that puts Peru’s crisis of bureaucratic capitalism on full display. As a countermeasure, congress voted to suspend Vizcarra from office and elected one of his vice presidents, Mercedes Aráoz, to replace him, but by late Tuesday night she had resigned.

The precedence for this autogolpe (in English, “self-coup”) was set in April 1992, when fascist president Alberto Fujimori dissolved congress in order to consolidate power and fully pursue his genocidal policies in an attempt to crush the people’s war led by the Communist Party of Peru (PCP).

Tanks and government soldiers line the streets of Lima after Fujimori’s 1992 autogolpe

Vizcarra’s autogolpe this week was prompted by disputes over new appointees to the constitutional tribunal, Peru’s highest court. The stakes surrounding who will administer justice are high as many public officials are embroiled in various scandals like the Odebrecht corruption ring. Those implicated in the construction company’s massive bribery scheme include fascist former president Alan Garcia, who committed suicide in April to avoid prosecution, and former president Alejandro Toledo, who was arrested in July in California under corruption charges.

Control over the constitutional tribunal will also give Vizcarra more leeway to make decrees, which essentially function as laws that the legislature cannot challenge. The reason Vizcarra felt capable of making this grab for the court in the first place was the backing of the military and the national police.

An unofficial spokesperson for the military said that there would not be a repeat of Fujimori’s coup, when tanks patrolled the streets, Fujimori’s political opponents were arbitrarily detained, and death squads killed with impunity. It was Fujimori’s unfettered crackdown of the PCP post-coup that helped win the support of US imperialism (who had recently launched its own media campaign against the Maoists), despite the rest of the international community condemning the autogolpe.

Despite the military’s current assurances, the threat of increased state violence could turn into a reality at any time.

The split in the government is a result of Peru’s bureaucratic capitalism, which is capitalism born sick on the foundation of semi-feudalism and under the domination of imperialism, in this case US imperialism. Under this system, the comprador bourgeoisie (private monopoly capital) contend with the bureaucratic bourgeoisie (state monopoly capital) for state power, and their squabbling inevitably produces state monopoly capitalism.

Neither Vizcarra nor his opponents in congress act in service of the people. Both are primarily interested in the centralization of power in the state.

In his interview with El Diario in 1988, Chairman Gonzalo predicted the future crises of bureaucratic capitalism in Peru, crediting Mao’s theory of the system as being of the utmost importance to avoid tailing either side of the big bourgeoisie.

“We can see that each new crisis is worse than the previous one,” Gonzalo said. “Because of all this we think the prospects for [the big bourgeoisie] are extremely bleak. Is this favorable for the revolution, for the people’s war, for the Party? Yes, it is. First and foremost for our class and the people, because all our work is for them, so that our class can rule, lead, so that the people can exercise their freedom and satisfy their centuries-old hunger. We see no prospects whatever for revisionism and reaction.”