Sunday, April 09, 2006

"I am one of those from below and my idea is to govern with them and with everyone": • From Lima, presidential candidate Ollanta Humala

• "We shall respect foreign investment although it must meet certain requisites: the generation of employment – direct or indirect – the transfer of technology for the country, respect its fiscal obligations and protect the environment" • From Lima, presidential candidate Ollanta Humala talks to Granma International

MEDIUM height, an athletic constitution, close-cut black hair and a measured way of speaking characterize this man of 44, who spent 23 of those years in the Peruvian Army. When he was discharged, after an argument with his superiors for exposing shady dealings and fraud within the force, he was a commander and had been the chief of a military unit, in which he won the respect of officers, NCO’s and soldiers.

Now he is aspiring to the Peruvian presidency and his government program has provoked panic in the ranks of those who openly or from the wings control this immensely rich country but in which the majority of its 27 million inhabitants live in poverty or bordering on it.

Ollanta rejects labels: “I am a nationalist because I support my nation and my people. I am not a leftist or a rightist: I am one of those from below and I propose to govern with them – and with everyone.”

Granma International approached Ollante in a Lima hotel where he had met with the foreign press, eager to meet one of the most vilified men in Peruvian national history, but who is leading the opinion polls for the elections this April 9.

“I come from a family of bankrupted farmers who had to leave the country for the city in a desperate search for survival,” he affirms. “Agriculture, Peru’s principal economic and social base, has been remorselessly attacked. In many cases the huge latifundia conceded on false premises include entire villages of native peoples who have been inhumanly enslaved.”

A nationalist government will reactivate agriculture, will give value to the land, protect its cultivators, offer them financial credits, promote their cultural, scientific and technical development, create a sound agrarian sector, care for and develop sources of water and conditions so that rural people do not have to emigrate and live in slum conditions in the cities or cross the border in search of sustenance in other lands. Agriculture is the pillar of the country’s development,” he affirms, adding: “We shall begin by respecting the rights of the poorest.”

The nationalist candidate emphasizes the protection of the environment and adds: “We support the Kyoto Protocol and will give special attention to the precarious situation of the environment in line with the agreements and efforts of the United Nations.

“Education is another sector that demands particular attention from a nationalist government. The situation of 20,000 schools in the Altiplano region is tragic. We shall make an effort to give education to everyone, to eliminate illiteracy and guarantee the country’s present and future.

“I am going to construct the dignity of the people and their pride at being the owners of their country. The Peruvian people are the owners of their homeland: workers have the right to receive a decent wage that will allow them to maintain their families and with respect for the 8-hour working day, which has been criminally abolished,” he states.

Ollanta Humala advises that, through the country’s legal mechanisms, a nationalist government will carefully review all the concessions granted to national and foreign investors, will take action against corruption and oblige those who have been evading the payment of taxes to cover them.

“We will respect foreign investment although it must meet certain requisites: the generation of employment – direct or indirect – the transfer of technology to the country, respect for its fiscal obligations and protection of the environment.

“Those that meet these requisites are not going to have any problems,” stated the Peruvian nationalist candidate, adding: “We are going to consolidate democracy, affirm the institutions and reaffirm the concept of citizenship.

“I am against the neoliberal economic model. We want an economy at the service of the people and have a sense of solidarity with other Latin American countries that are trying to build a regional economic, social, energetic agenda and one that protects the environment, all in function of the well being of our peoples, without exception.”

In this context, Ollanta Humala notes: “I am not going to accept pressure from any country to discriminate against another country. We are not anti: we are pro, and we want good relations with all nations, including Chile and Ecuador, our neighbors, based on respect for our rights and theirs. We will have a politics of agreement and dialogue.

“The Peruvian people are sick of corruption, of seeing how the law is selectively applied, in favor of those who already have everything. Moreover,” he emphasizes, “there is currently a discrimination based on language. Many indigenous people do not speak Spanish and can see how their rights are being violated without even having the possibility of defending themselves, because their culture belongs to another of the seven languages spoken in the country.”