Ollanta Humala es visto como un político con una posición ambigua y dual

id: 230714 date: 10/21/2009 20:13 refid: 09LIMA1561 origin: Embassy Lima classification: CONFIDENTIAL destination: 05LIMA4132|05LIMA4854|09LIMA637 header: VZCZCXYZ0000 PP RUEHWEB DE RUEHPE #1561/01 2942013 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 212013Z OCT 09 FM AMEMBASSY LIMA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1387 INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 0087 RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 0047 RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8600 RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 4170 RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1517 RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ OCT 5325 RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO PRIORITY 9840 RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 0080 RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 0075 RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL PRIORITY ----------------- header ends ---------------- C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 001561 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/21/2019 TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PINR, PTER, SNAR, PE SUBJECT: HUMALA: HEDGING BETS IN RUN UP TO ELECTIONS REF: A. LIMA 637 B. 05 LIMA 4132 C. 05 LIMA 4854 Classified By: Amb P. Michael McKinley for reasons 1.4(b) and (d). 1. (C) Summary: Opposition leader Ollanta Humala -- who nearly won the 2006 presidential elections on a populist platform -- heads a Peruvian Nationalist Party (PNP) pursuing an ambiguous dual-track political path. According to insiders, the party continues to have "one foot inside and the other foot outside" of the formal political system, and several factions have been fighting over which path to choose in the run up to regional and national elections. Humala's decision to create some level of association with radical groups has resulted in one recent high-level defection from the party so far. Whatever his final tack, Humala is likely to be in the presidential mix in 2011 -- unless Peru's latent mass of disenchanted voters find someone they believe better suited to bear the anti-system flag. End Summary. One Foot In, the Other Out -------------------------- 2. (C) Opposition leader Ollanta Humala -- who nearly won the 2006 presidential elections on a populist platform -- heads a Peruvian Nationalist Party (PNP) in search of its true identity. The party has swung between opposing approaches since its inception, seeking to make itself broadly palatable by assuming moderate positions and eschewing open talk of radical measures while also maintaining its credentials as an anti-system group dedicated to profound "nationalist" reform (refs B and C.) In a conversation with the Ambassador earlier this year, Humala suggested he was keeping his options open and quietly coordinating with radical groups (ref A). Nadine Heredia, Humala's wife and advisor and a key PNP leader, told us more recently that the party continues to have "one foot inside and the other foot outside" of the formal political system, describing the party's vigorous work within Congress and its willingness, as necessary, to assume more radical positions to oppose what she characterized as Peru's corrupt and unjust social and political order. Infighting Over Approach ------------------------ 3. (C) Several party factions have been fighting over which path to choose in the run up to the 2010 regional elections and the subsequent national elections in 2011. Publicly, this dispute has centered over the PNP's reported effort to forge a broad left-of-center coalition, and include radical fringe groups such as Patria Roja, (MRTA front organization) Patria Libre and others in it. Humala himself has made public statements indicating an interest in working with any group that "wants to change the country." According to some reports, Humala has made a political decision to maintain (at a minimum) some level of association with radical groups, reportedly opening a "frente amplio" office in a Lima suburb and holding periodic meetings, even though he recently publicly denied any intention to form an electoral agreement with these groups. Some PNP leaders, including Congressman Daniel Abugattas, have argued that bringing radical groups into the PNP tent gives them leverage they would otherwise lack, and undermines the party's authority and leadership. Abugattas' advisors told us recently that Humala had already been pressured into taking several controversial public positions as a result of this dynamic, which had damaged the party's image. 4. (C) Nadine Heredia told us the PNP talks to "everyone," and was open to alliances with other groups on the left. She underscored that one important exception to this rule was Sendero Luminoso, which the PNP rejected and against whom her husband had fought as an Army officer at the height of the terrorist insurgency. According to news and other reports, the return as a close advisor to the party of longtime leftist ideologue Carlos Tapia, who had reportedly distanced himself from Humala after the 2006 election loss, was one of the driving forces behind the PNP's move to forge alliances with all comers, including those on the radical fringe. That a former staffer to PNP Congresswoman and cocalero leader Nancy Obregon's was recently caught transporting 140 kilos of cocaine suggests the party's radical associations extend to drug-trafficking (vice mere coca growing) interests as well. 5. (C) Another factor in Humala's dual strategy relates to electoral strategy. According to party insiders, to avoid a collapse similar to that of the 2006 regional and municipal elections (in which the PNP fared poorly), Humala has chosen to field candidates in the 2010 regional elections that fly under a non-PNP banner as "regional fronts." At the same time, the party plans to maintain a loose association with these fronts, hence the reaching out. The reasoning behind this strategy, insiders say, is that the PNP will be able to claim victory if "its" candidates win, and thereby gain momentum in the approach to 2011, while avoiding too close an association with candidates who lose, which could hamper the PNP's national aspirations. High-Level Defection -------------------- 6. (C) Internal dissent over the PNP's approach has resulted in one recent high-level defection from the party so far, that of Congressman Isaac Mekler. After publicly questioning what he called the party's dangerous association with radical actors, Mekler formally bolted from the party in early October, declaring himself a political independent. Following the break, Mekler accused Humala of having been induced by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez into an association with such groups as the New Left (Nueva Izquierda), the Socialist Party, Patria Libre and other fringe groups. Mekler's follows the earlier defections of other former Humala allies, most of whom left the PNP fold immediately after the 2006 elections. Whether rooted in real ideological disagreements or simple personal interests, it could also presage more departures in the future. For example, we have heard that indigenous leaders within the PNP have also grown restive and some, chafing under the party's autocratic leadership and claiming Humala has sought to use them politically while giving them little in return, are considering breaking ties with the party and throwing their support to alternative candidates. Humala in the Mix ----------------- 7. (C) Internal tensions notwithstanding, Humala is likely to be in the presidential mix in 2011. More than any other prominent political figure, he continues most fully to embody the "political opposition" for most Peruvians; and, while notoriously fickle, poll numbers consistently place him among the top 5 candidates for president in 2011. In addition, the PNP is one of the few political parties with a national structure, and probably the only one (apart from theFujimoristas) with an active political network in Peru's impoverished rural communities -- a significant electoral advantage. Comment: Competing for Anti-System Vote --------------------------------------- 8. (C) Not alone in the anti-system wild, other candidates are likely to compete with Humala over Peru's overlapping nationalist, leftist, opposition political turf. These could include Congresswoman Keiko Fujimori (daughter of the former President), former Prime Minister Yehude Simon, and anti-mining activist and Catholic priest, Padre Marco Arana, who has already formed his "Tierra y Libertad" political party. In our recent conversation with her, Nadine Heredia's dismissive attitude toward Humala's potential political rivals struck us as thinly veiled concern about having to compete for the political space that became her husband's alone in 2006. Finally, if Peru's recent electoral past is precedent, the prospect of a previously little known, last-minute candidate surging to occupy the anti-system segment of Peru's political spectrum -- a la Fujimori in 1990, Toledo in 2001 and Humala himself in 2006 -- can hardly be ruled out. This historical pattern also explains Humala's strategy of keeping at least one foot outside a system in which a still significant percentage of Peru's voters have little faith. MCKINLEY =======================CABLE ENDS============================ id: 114649 date: 7/6/2007 23:31 refid: 07LIMA2323 origin: Embassy Lima classification: CONFIDENTIAL destination: 07LIMA2000|07LIMA2009|07LIMA2126|07LIMA2236 header: VZCZCXYZ0000 PP RUEHWEB DE RUEHPE #2323/01 1872331 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 062331Z JUL 07 FM AMEMBASSY LIMA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6086 INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 1709 RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4840 RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7443 RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 2964 RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0528 RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JUL LIMA RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 1326 RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 1371 RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC ----------------- header ends ---------------- C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 002323 SIPDIS SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/24/2016 TAGS: PE, PGOV, PHUM, PINR, PREL, SNAR SUBJECT: OLLANTA HUMALA - THE BENEFITS OF SOCIAL UNREST REF: A. LIMA 2000 B. LIMA 2009 C. LIMA 2126 D. LIMA 2236 Classified By: Classified By: A/DCM V. Wunder, for Reasons 1.4 (c,d) 1. (C) Summary: Ambassador Struble paid a cordial farewell call on Ollanta Humala, president of the Nationalist Party of Peru (PNP) on July 3. Humala said the Garcia administration's indifference to Peru's social problems was causing mounting unrest in the country. Humala noted his growing alliance with striking workers, protesting regional defense fronts and other frustrated Peruvians, predicting he would soon lead a broad-based political movement in favor of his goal of radical change. The nationalist leader said it would be bad for the country if Garcia were pushed out of office early, but the President was risking such an outcome by turning his back on electoral promises. Humala admitted his party had experienced growing pains. He lamented the coalition with the UPP and said his nationalists had no interest in proposals by the center-right Unidad Nacional for opposition control of the Congress. Reflecting a continued anti-systemic outlook, Humala said he would not hesitate to walk away from the nationalist Congressional bloc if they discredit his movement. He expressed concern that his reputation had become entangled with the fate of Puno regional President Fuentes because of the latter's strong embrace of Hugo Chavez. Humala said he was trying to rally leftist support for Fuentes and to advise the regional president, but was uncertain whether he would succeed. (Ambassador's comment: Humala exuded an excited belief that things are moving his way. Many of the movements now flocking to him, however, are opportunists angling for a deal. I expect many of them will be peeled off by the GOP in coming weeks. Humala retains most of the advantages he brought to last year's strong electoral showing -- confidence, conviction, charm, credibility with the poor and a handsome dark face in a country where most national leaders look unmistakably European. He also, however, is still burdened with the same disadvantages. Those include a military-molded personality that demands complete obedience and eschews compromise, association with the locally unpopular Hugo Chavez, and a certain naivet, about the motives of some who rally to his banner. End Comment.) End Summary. -------------------------- The Cause of Social Unrest -------------------------- 2. (C) Ambassador Struble met with Ollanta Humala and his wife Nadine Heredia, the PNP's head of international relations, for one hour on July 3. The tone of the meeting was cordial and open. Humala said social tensions in Peru's interior are rising, prompted by the recognition that the GOP is unable -- or perhaps unwilling -- to fulfill campaign promises to address the social crisis in the countryside. Little had been done, for example, to fix crumbling roads, reform corrupt courts, or address Peru's twin problems of discrimination and exclusion. According to Humala, the GOP had focused instead on advancing the narrow self-interests of the ruling elite; in the words of Heredia, the governing party "was not Aprista but Alanista." Ollanta said that it would not be good for Peru if Garcia were forced out of the Presidency short of term. However, Humala seemed to believe that Garcia was doomed to fall unless he changed his ways. 3. (C) Humala cited congressional approval of the PTPA as an example of how the GOP pandered to the rich. Free trade, he argued, benefited only a portion of Peruvian society and created hardships for small agricultural producers. The treaty, moreover, lacked legitimacy in Peru because it was passed without public debate and was the creation of a party -- former president Toledo's Peru Possible -- that had practically ceased to exist. 4. (C) Humala saw public frustration at the gap between governmental rhetoric and reality as the fuel for a growing number of protests throughout Peru, with historically inarticulate groups -- workers, campesinos, and indigenous communities -- forming for the first time coalitions across regional, ethnic, and economic lines. In the midst of this ferment, PNP party members were working at the district level to shape a common agenda that would unite protesters into a broad-based political movement. For Humala, GOP dithering in addressing social problems in the mountains and in the jungles was creating an army of potential recruits for the PNP. Nadine Heredia noted that political observers had made much of Humala's failure to win regional presidencies in the November 2006 regional/municipal elections. She suggested that the various regional "defense fronts" leading strikes and protests now underway in the jungle and highlands represented popular power. They were seeking out Humala, as were some regional Presidents, the striking miners in Casaplaca and other aggrieved groups. She predicted that they would coalesce into a new national opposition led by Humala. Both Ollanta and Nadine were visibly excited by these strikes and protests ------------------------- The Problem of Governance ------------------------- 5. (C) Humala admitted that organizing and administering a national political party was hard work, and he said that "criticizing is one thing, managing another," as evidenced by the fate of fellow radical Hernan Fuentes, regional president of Puno. Humala said Fuentes faced stiff challenges in delivering good government in Puno -- a lack of talented technocrats, regional infighting, and a restive and extremist Aymara community -- but Fuentes had made the situation worse. Though Fuentes was not elected on the PNP banner, Humala admitted that nationalists would be tarnished by the Puno President's failure; Fuentes strong embrace of Bolivarianism (reftels A and D) and Hugo Chavez led many people to identify him with Ollanta. (Humala said that his own identification with Chavez was exaggerated, though he added that he admires the Venezuelan leader and considers him a friend.) Humala said that he would soon meet with Fuentes to advise that he spend more time fixing broken public services. Humala had also called Jose Quintana, who lost to Fuentes by only one percentage point, to urge that he help Fuentes in the name of leftist solidarity; there was too much bad blood between the men, though, and a rapprochement seemed impossible. 6. (C) Humala said that the PNP erred by aligning with the Union for Peru (UPP) after the 2006 elections. The UPP was better organized and more experienced than the PNP and represented both groups in the Congress' governing body. UPP used those advantages to mislead and betray the PNP, pushing the nationalist agenda to the side. Relations were much better now that the parties had ended their formal coalition. As a result of the earlier experience, Humala said, he was completely disinterested in proposals by the center-right Unidad Nacional that the opposition form a joint slate to take the Presidency of Congress. What do we have in common with Unidad Nacional?, he asked rhetorically. Humala recognized that the PNP could fall prey to the same public discontent directed at the traditional parties and said he would not hesitate to walk away from his deputies if they discredit the movement. All the same, he argued that only the PNP offered a genuine ideological choice within the Peruvian Congress and predicted that the PNP's focus on grass- roots organization would prevent his party from ignoring broad sectors of the society. ------------------------ Radicalism not Extremism ------------------------ 7. (SBU) Humala characterized himself as a radical, but not an extremist, defining the two terms as follows: A radical believes the status quo is unjust but offers concrete proposals to remedy the situation. An extremist likewise believes society is unjust, but only tears down and does not seek to build up. Ollanta reiterated his support for free elections and democracy. He said he had a positive political program that sought, for example, to redefine the relationship between the state and foreign capital and to promote economic development -- as long as regulations protecting the environment and the rights of workers were enforced. In his view, the GOP's counter-narcotics program needed to be redesigned to find markets for legal coca, a solution that would undercut the appeal of both the Shining Path and narco- traffickers. If those kinds of reforms were not made, extremist groups -- who oppose any kind of economic development -- would grow stronger. Humala maintained that he was not anti-US -- though he opposed aspects of US policy -- and that he recognized the preeminent role the US plays in Latin America. 8. (SBU) Comment: Humala's sweeping analysis of Peruvian politics sometimes stumbled over facts. The Ambassador pointed out, for example, that the PTPA had been debated extensively in congressional committees. Humala's claim that regional protests are coalescing also is suspect and ignores both the wide difference over goals in disparate social movements and the government's success in addressing local complaints (see septel). Humala's endorsement of electoral democracy was welcome, but there may be more than a little opportunism in his stance: many observes suspect he has already been eclipsed in the nationalist movement by his brother Antuaro, whose political platform is racist, violent, and anti-democratic (reftels B and C). The Humala family remains an important force within Peru's radical left, and the Humalas have shown a willingness to talk to Embassy officials. Post plans to continue to take advantage of their garrulousness. End Comment. STRUBLE =======================CABLE ENDS============================ id: 65100 date: 5/23/2006 13:25 refid: 06LIMA2017 origin: Embassy Lima classification: CONFIDENTIAL destination: header: VZCZCXYZ0000 RR RUEHWEB DE RUEHPE #2017/01 1431325 ZNY CCCCC ZZH R 231325Z MAY 06 FM AMEMBASSY LIMA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0593 INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 3412 RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 6754 RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 9468 RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAY QUITO 0353 RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0536 RUMIAAA/CDR USCINCSO MIAMI FL RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC ----------------- header ends ---------------- C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 002017 SIPDIS SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/19/2016 TAGS: PGOV, PINR, PHUM, PE SUBJECT: PDAS SHAPIRO/AMBASSADOR MEET WITH HUMALA Classified By: Ambassador Curt Struble for Reasons 1.4 (b,d) 1. (U) Visiting PDAS Charles Shapiro and Ambassador Struble met for one hour on May 17 with nationalist Presidential candidate Ollanta Humala. The latter was accompanied for part of the meeting by his candidate for First Vice President, Gonzalo Garcia. 2. (C) Humala, who assumed a low key and friendly manner throughout, opened by saying that he wanted to have good relations with the United States, which he considered an important partner on issues like coca and biodiversity. Saying he would speak frankly, Humala voiced concern about the revelation last week that his U.S. visa had been revoked -- both because it was news to him and because the timing appeared aimed at influencing the election. Ambassador Struble reminded the candidate that one of his spokesmen had publicized the revocation -- something that the Embassy would not have done. The Ambassador gave Humala a copy of the revocation certificate and explained that we had only recently become aware Humala did not previously receive the notice, but reminded the candidate that the Embassy had repeatedly tried to speak with him about his visa since learning this January that he might travel to the U.S. The Ambassador explained that the revocation was prudenial based upon statements from the time indicating that Ollanta was involved with his brother,s uprising in Andahuayas during which several policemen were killed. Simply declaring that the old visa was valid again, as Humala had insisted, was not possible; U.S. immigration systems show the old visa as void and a new one would have to be applied for. Humala observed that he had never been charged in connection with the Andahuayas uprising and said that he had only called upon Peruvians to employ their constitutional right to rebel. While showing no rancor, he said that he did not plan to apply for another visa. 3. (C) Ambassador Shapiro said that the United States intended to work constructively with whoever was elected President in Peru. The key issue for us was not whether governments were of the left or the right but rather poverty. Peru appeared close to making an economic and development breakthrough; the U.S. sought to promote inclusion of the poor in economic opportunity. Humala responded that he likewise did not believe in left/right axis, agreeing the problem was the poor; he was not part of any bloc, was not anti-Chilean and was not anti-American. Shifting to new ground, he said he did believe in the need to revise Peru,s anti-narcotics approach. Peru should cut off diversion of precursor chemicals, give priority to interdiction, and resume its aerial interdiction program. 4. (C) Ambassador Struble said that the principal concern of the United States was that Peru's anti-narcotics policy be viable, meaning that it result in reduced illegal drug production rather than increases, despite great effort and expenditure. The Ambassador noted that the situation Peru faced with coca was not static. Colombia recognized that coca fed violence in the country and was committed on national security grounds to eradicate all it could. That was driving up prices in Peru and Bolivia, and cultivation was increasing. Ambassador Shapiro observed that experience showed voluntary eradication did not work without the incentive of a credible forced eradication program. Humala said that he would permit forced eradication if alternative development were offered but refused. He added the significant condition that the alternative products had to offer farmers a level of income similar to coca. Humala repeated the "zero cocaine, not zero coca" slogan his campaign has borrowed from Bolivia,s Morales. Coca should be part of the agricultural agenda, he said, saying he would move the issue from the Ministry of Interior/police to the Ministry of Agriculture. (Comment: Humala's understanding of narcotics trafficking in Peru is very shallow. He was clearly unaware that only a small portion of cocaine now moves out of Peru by air and that no licit product grown in the coca zone commands prices as high as what narcotraffickers will pay for coca. He did not give the impression, however, of someone whose policy towards the coca/cocaine problem would be altered by exposure to the facts.) 5. (C) Humala next reiterated his concern that the United States was intervening in Peru,s election. Apart from the visa issue, he cited the Ambassador's April meetings with Lourdes Flores and her campaign team. Ambassador Struble replied that he had simultaneously requested meetings with Flores and Humala after the first round of elections; Flores accepted while Humala had not. Such meetings were customary diplomatic practice, Struble said, noting that Humala had himself met with a number of foreign Ambassadors. The alleged meeting with Flores' campaign team would likewise have been quite normal, the Ambassador observed, but in fact that was not what happened * it was a lunch with an old Peruvian friend and his colleagues, one of whom was a prominent advisor to Flores. Humala said he wanted all foreign countries -- Venezuela, Argentina and the U.S. -- to avoid actions that could be deemed interference in Peru,s electoral process. Ambassador Struble replied, "We have our first agreement * we want the same thing," holding out his hand to shake on it -- a hand Humala accepted. 6. (C) Asked for his views on Colombia, Humala said that he recognized the legitimacy of President Uribe and did not want the Colombian conflict to enter Peru. He was ready to cooperate with the United States on the matter though he would always be respectful of Colombian sovereignty. Humala said that he would reinforce the border; he did not want Peru to be an R&R zone or logistics base for the FARC. 7. (C) Humala asked whether the US Embassy had a financial relationship with Human Social Capital (CHS), a consulting firm headed up by former Minister of Interior Rospigliosi. The Ambassador said that the Embassy valued the analyses produced by CHS and was among its clients. Anticipating the reason for Humala,s question (Rospigliosi is also a columnist and has been very critical of Humala), the Ambassador noted that questions sometimes arise as to whether groups that receive funds from the US Embassy are expressing our viewpoint. In fact, our assistance partners receive funds from various sources and usually have broader agendas than the issue on which we work together. NGOs that receive US funding have at times publicly criticized U.S. policies. Humala asked whether he could have a list of NGOs the Embassy worked with. The Ambassador said that the information was available on the web. When Humala reiterated that he would like a list, the Ambassador said he would send something over. 8. (C) Gonzalo Garcia, in the only intervention he made during the meeting, said he would like to organize a meeting between Humala,s economic team and Embassy counterparts. The Ambassador agreed and promised to follow up. 9. (C) Concluding the meeting, Humala said that his speech struck many as radical, but that was just because he reveals how many Peruvians see their situation. He spoke of the concern many Peruvians have that they do not benefit from their natural resources, citing the Camisea project, and that they have been disadvantaged by corrupt deals, citing Yanacocha. He recalled that the U.S. Congress had recently blocked an Arab-owned firm from controlling U.S. ports and said that his concerns about Chilean control of Peruvian ports was similar -- not directed against Chile, but by a concern that a Chilean operator of Peruvian ports would not work hard to compete against facilities in Chile. -------- COMMENT: -------- 10. (C) This meeting was positive in that it opened a line of communication and defanged the visa issue, which has now passed entirely from view. It served to confirm, however, what we have heard from some of the people within Humala,s organization who are friendlier towards us -- the candidate looks at us through a very paranoid lens. END COMMENT. STRUBLE =======================CABLE ENDS============================ id: 205404 date: 5/4/2009 16:16 refid: 09LIMA637 origin: Embassy Lima classification: CONFIDENTIAL destination: header: VZCZCXYZ0006 PP RUEHWEB DE RUEHPE #0637/01 1241616 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 041616Z MAY 09 FM AMEMBASSY LIMA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0500 INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 2333 RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 6534 RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8270 RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 3833 RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1380 RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAY 5160 RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO PRIORITY 9715 RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 2515 RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 2355 RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL PRIORITY ----------------- header ends ---------------- C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 000637 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/01/2019 TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PINR, PE SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH OLLANTA HUMALA Classified By: Amb. P Michael McKinley for reasons 1.4b and d. 1. (C) Summary: I met one-on-one with Nationalist Party leader Ollanta Humala April 16 at his request. Across two-and-a-half hours of discussion, Humala revealed perhaps more than he intended of his electoral strategy for regional and congressional elections in 2010 and for presidential elections in 2011. He is clearly working closely with some of the most radical groups in Peru, even as he continues to project a moderate nationalist line on economic, international, and political issues. Ollanta has also successfully raised his media profile in recent weeks, in part by joining a growing national consensus on what should be done about the VRAE region, where Sendero and drug traffickers hold sway. I was struck by a growing self-confidence, a view echoed by at least one other veteran observer of the political scene. I was also left with the impression that Ollanta remains ambivalent about fully abandoning radical alternatives. He is open to suggestions on international travel and, for at least the third time in as many discussions over the past ten months, indicated his interest in visiting the US. We should consider our options on supporting his travel should he formally make a request. End Summary. 2. (C) Ollanta was supposed to visit with his wife Nadine Herrera, international secretary of his party, and reputedly the radical political brains behind Humala. Her father, however, is on his deathbed (and died April 24), and the meeting was one-on-one at the residence. Humala, dressed in jeans and a polo shirt, was extremely relaxed, and without the coaxing we have seen previously from his wife, remarkably open on a number of topics. Bases, VRAE, and Drugs ---------------------- 3. (C) An April 9 Sendero Luminoso attack had left 14 soldiers dead in the VRAE. Despite several attacks over the previous twelve months, this incident sparked a level of sustained national media and Congressional attention on the VRAE not seen for years. Ollanta reflected that preoccupation, and said he saw his opening to speak with some degree of authority with both myself and the media because of his past as a military officer fighting Sendero in the Huancavelica area in the late 1980s. 4. (C) Ollanta first raised his usual concerns about an American base in Pichari, a report he claimed to have seen of upcoming joint exercises involving 3,000 Colombians and Americans in Peru, and the numerous US naval ship visits planned for 2009. I rebutted Ollanta's claims in greater detail than on previous occasions. I did acknowledge the problems in perception we had encountered during the New Horizons humanitarian assistance exercises, and Ollanta pointed out it was difficult for the local population of Ayacucho (formerly the heart of Sendero) to see military forces as benign. Locals saw the humanitarian projects as preparations for establishing a more permanent US presence in the area. I told Ollanta what he should already should know: that USG support for infrastructure improvement in Peru was part of a decades-long tradition of American cooperation with Peruvian security forces, and that this assistance would continue. 5. (C) Ollanta dropped the subject, and instead discussed his efforts to play a constructive role during the week following the April 9 Sendero attack in Sanabamba. By way of background, he noted that the VRAE would remain a near impossible area to control. Virtually all the population (of 200,000) was in some way tied to the drug trade. Efforts to develop alternative crops would not work given the challenges of the terrain and the poor infrastructure. The police and army personnel stationed there were completely corrupted, and unwilling to engage. Ollanta reprised his call for creating a $200 million fund to buy the annual coca crop as alternatives were developed and the government provided social services and infrastructure. He estimated that this would be a fraction of the cost of continuing to prosecute a war in the VRAE. He stated that any efforts to prematurely eradicate coca production (at almost half Peru's total) would not only fail, but radicalize the population. When Ollanta pressed on his proposal to buy out the coca farmers, I suggested that this was an idea which had little support, and presumably for good reasons. I strongly urged Humala to travel to Vienna and other capitals to develop a firmer appreciation of how the scourge of trafficking worldwide was tackled. Humala was receptive, but asked how he could go about doing so. 6. (C) In recent days, Ollanta had reached out to the government. He had spoken twice with Prime Minister Yehude Simon and communicated a proposal to establish a multi-party commission to oversee development in the VRAE. Ollanta had proposed one of his supporters to chair the commission, someone who knew the region and the issues. Ollanta rationalized that it was he, and not the government, who had most to lose from this national unity response to the crisis. If the commission failed to deliver in the VRAE, Humala's Nationalist Party image would be damaged nationally. Simon had expressed interest, but then spoken to President Garcia. The answer back was "interesting idea", which Humala interpreted as a no. He reiterated that he had made the offer as a patriot: the situation in the VRAE was serious. 7. (C) In explaining his concern, Ollanta noted that recent human rights abuses claims against him were politically motivated, and as unlikely to prosper as previous accusations that he had supported his radical brother Antauro's coup attempt a few years ago. The new incident had a woman claiming that an army commander code-named "Carlos" had cold-bloodedly killed her son during the first war against Sendero. The murder had in fact taken place when Ollanta was no longer assigned to the region as an officer. He discussed his days as an officer in the field, the importance of winning hearts and minds, and of Sendero violations he had witnessed. (In a subsequent appearance on a television news show, Ollanta expounded at length on the situation in the VRAE. Much of the time, he sounded remarkably moderate and concerned.) Politics -------- 8. (C) I asked Humala about the current political scene. Ollanta indicated his desire to be constructive, but grew more pointed in his remarks when I asked him about electoral prospects. He thought the Fujimori trial had hurt Keiko, the former president's daughter and standard-bearer. Ollanta stated he remained a strong candidate for the future, and the tactics of his opponents and specifically President Garcia were to ensure Ollanta did not reach the second round of a presidential election, as he successfully did in 2006. 9. (C) Ollanta had carefully studied the polling on why he had lost in 2006 (in quite some detail), calculating that the proliferation of candidates weakened his candidacy. The emergence of the recently retired (and controversial) army commander Edwin Donayre as a potential presidential candidate was a perfect example. "Someone is behind him", because Donayre would never be a serious candidate. Ollanta did testily acknowledge Donayre could draw off votes that would otherwise go to the Nationalist candidate. When I ventured to suggest, on the basis of my numerous contacts with Donayre over the previous year, that the general had the common touch, Humala was dismissive. He said that the apparent affection soldiers exhibited for Donayre, was very much a product of military hierarchy. Enlisted men took their cue from the behavior of their commanders, and responded accordingly. Donayre was in fact a "clown," with little to offer, and a simplistic populist message. (Note: Donayre is virulently anti-Chilean, a Quechua speaker, and rails against privilege. End Note.) Humala also mentioned that on the left, NGOs and others had sought to encourage the leftist activist priest Father Marco Arana to run, convincing the latter he could have national appeal, but this was a forlorn exercise. (Note: Arana is based in Cajamarca in the north, and his primary platform is fighting mining investments, especially foreign companies, in the name of impoverished local populations and the environment. In a May 4 interview, he answered questions likening him to Paraguayan President Lugo. End Note.) 10. (C) I spoke about the global economic crisis, the impact on Peru, and suggested there seemed to be a general international consensus on how to respond. I added that Presidents Chavez and Morales were rather isolated in railing against measures that even Russia and China were prepared to support. Humala said that just because he saw himself in the leftist international bloc did not mean he agreed with everything his regional allies said or did. 11. (C) This led to a discussion about how Humala interacted with his party and Congress. Humala noted that he had only gone to Congress two or three times since losing the presidential election. He managed his Nationalist Party congresspersons directly, however. When they were first elected in 2006, he had had to be a "military general" in order to forge a common voice. He met with the caucus weekly, and it was not a simple task: mixing professional lawyers with indigenous representatives was a challenge. They would sit at different ends of the table. As things gelled, he relied on more informal mechanisms, but he stayed on top of whatever was happening in Congress. 12. (C) I asked about how the Nationalist Party dealt with more radical political groupings in Peru. Ollanta, without hesitating, responded that he dealt with them directly. In fact, two days previously he had met in Lima with far-left labor leader (Mario Huaman), and the leaders of Patria Roja (Alberto Moreno) and the MNI. They had discussed the strategy for the 2010 regional and local elections. I expressed surprise, and asked how this coalition-building squared with the more moderate image Ollanta was trying to project. After correcting me by noting he was moderate on national political and economic issues, Humala said he was the one in the driver's seat. He was the one with political legitimacy; he was the one with leadership capability; he was the one with a national program. The other actors had none of the above. Moreno had won less than a quarter of one percent of the national vote in 2006. Moreover, these groupings were riven by internal dissent and looking to use political power to secure positions. (Note: The implication was that they had lost their way. End Note.) Most critically, they did not understand that the key raison d'etre for a political party was winning power. Everything else flowed from winning elections. 13. (C) I asked what this motley coalition of radicals did for a coherent national message, and mobilization of support. Humala indicated that these groups were already active in radicalizing populations, and it was, in effect, better to have them inside the tent rather than outside. He discussed their potential role in places like Pasco, Junin, Cajamarca, and in the south. He also sought to help them where appropriate: a group representing workers in the sierra had been in touch asking for money to help their members stay afloat in a deteriorating economic situation. When it came to the national platform, however, it was he and the Nationalist Party that would decide what policies were. Humala had no doubt he could control the messaging of the coaition. 14. (C) I closed by noting that working with radicals nonetheless had implications, and would not be appealing to the wider political spectrum Humala sought to attract. Humala surprisingly took this on board and said he would take a closer look at what Patria Roja was doing in Lima. (Note: Our indications are that Patria Roja and Sendero are looking to work in universities again. End Note.) International and Travel ------------------------ 15. (C) Humala asked me what he thought about recent changes in Cuba. I responded that it appeared that Raul Castro was tightening his grip, possibly for change in the future. Humala commented that Cuba's was an "extremely hermetic" government. He thought the dismissal of Perez Roque and Lage had been handled in a rough fashion. He added that there were a number of people below their level who had also been dismissed summarily, and regretted it. (Note: It was hard to read where Ollanta was taking this point. End Note.) 16. (C) In addition to asking about how to go about arranging travel to UN offices and Europe (I suggested Ollanta talk to relevant diplomatic missions), Humala made a strong pitch for travel to the US. He did not have a date in mind but wanted to be sure that if and when he applied for a visa he would not be embarrassed (by a turndown, presumably). I promised to look into the possibility at the right time. Ollanta also asked how he could be in touch with the Democratic Party. His request was inchoate but repeated: he wanted to have contact with the party in the context of developing transparent relations with the United States. He also repeated previous assurances that he wanted to maintain open channels with the mission in Lima. MCKINLEY =======================CABLE ENDS============================ id: 159839 date: 6/26/2008 21:33 refid: 08LIMA1107 origin: Embassy Lima classification: CONFIDENTIAL destination: 08LIMA1081 header: VZCZCXYZ0000 PP RUEHWEB DE RUEHPE #1107/01 1782133 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 262133Z JUN 08 FM AMEMBASSY LIMA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8906 INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 1998 RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 5825 RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7889 RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 3412 RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1184 RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JUN 4903 RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO PRIORITY 9538 RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 1955 RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 1933 RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL PRIORITY ----------------- header ends ---------------- C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 001107 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/27/2018 TAGS:PGOV, PREL, PINR, PE SUBJECT: OLLANTA HUMALA CLAIMS HE CAN SAVE PERU FROM EXTREMISTS REF: LIMA 1081 Classified By: Amb. P Michael McKinley for reasons 1.b and d. 1. (C) Summary: Ambassador McKinley met with opposition Peruvian Nationalist Party (PNP) leader Ollanta Humala and his wife (and advisor) Nadine Heredia June 18 for a cordial two-hour discussion. Humala argued that the Garcia government is neglecting Peru's mounting social concerns and needs to find pragmatic solutions to prevent the spread of conflict. He said the recent protests in Moquegua over the allocation of mining royalties (canon) broke out after the government first ignored the problem and then lost control. Humala called for "pragmatic" solutions to mounting social conflicts in the mining sector and proposed to increase taxes on mining profits and to improve mining canon distribution among regions. Asked about the possible impact on juridical security and investment, Ollanta said companies have no security if social conflicts can shut down production. Humala claimed to favor free trade but lamented the irony that the US Congress had done more to protect Peru's labor and environmental norms in the FTA framework than had Peru's own Congress. Turning to constitutional reform, Ollanta said the 1993 Constitution was illegitimate and called for the return of the 1979 Constitution. Ambassador McKinley closed the conversation by addressing Humala's concerns about the New Horizons military-humanitarian mission currently in progress in Ayacucho. On June 25th, the Ambassador saw Humala again at a diplomatic function, and Humala endorsed the Ambassador's upcoming trip to Ayacucho to explain New Horizons to a skeptical audience, although he made clear that he stuck to his concerns. End Summary. Cordial Atmospherics -------------------- 2. (C) Ambassador McKinley received opposition Peruvian Nationalist Party (PNP) leader Ollanta Humala and his wife Nadine Heredia at his residence on June 18th for a cordial and broad-ranging two-hour conversation. Ollanta sat relaxed and attentive throughout, making his points in a calm, non-confrontational tone. Nadine -- the PNP's Secretary for International Relations and effectively Ollanta's "Chief of Staff" and principal political advisor -- sat on the edge of her seat with a serious and guarded facial expression at first, intermittently joining the discussion to clarify Ollanta's comments. She let down her guard and warmed as the discussion drew to a close. Humala: I Can Save Peru From Radicalism --------------------------------------- 3. (C) Humala argued throughout the conversation that Alan Garcia's government is neglecting Peru's mounting social concerns and that, absent pragmatic solutions, regional conflicts like the recent violent protests in Moquegua region would spread. Ollanta expressed concern about this prospect and warned that dangerous, anti-systemic radicals could ultimately threaten the stability of the state. Declaring himself "a nationalist, not a leftist", Humala said that he represents the pragmatic change that Peru needs. (Comment: Humala did not mention credible reports that he often seeks to stir up, for political gain, the very social conflict he told us he wants to prevent. End Comment.) Conflict in Moquegua Region --------------------------- 4. (C) Humala cited the recent conflict in Moquegua over regional mining canon allocations to underscore his general thesis on the government's neglect of social problems. Moquegua's leadership, he said, had repeatedly presented their complaints to the government during the previous year but received no response. The government finally paid attention after the first week of protests when roadblocks began to cause shortages in neighboring Tacna region. He warned that Moquegua's elected leaders had lost credibility with the local populace because of their inability to win concessions from Lima, leading to the emergence of more radical "informal" leaders. This complicated negotiating a definitive end to the conflict because it was unclear with whom the GOP could successfully negotiate, creating a messy situation that could replicate itself in other regions. (Note: The GOP eventually resolved the Moquegua conflict by offering concessions to the protestors. End Note) Raise Mining Profit Taxes ------------------------- 5. (C) Humala said the best way to avert conflict was to increase mandatory profit sharing (utilidades) by mining companies that are making bundles right now with mineral prices sky high and to spread the benefits of the windfall widely -- to workers, communities, the regions and the whole country. Recent congressional negotiations on a bill that would raise the cap on mining profits taken by mine workers did not resolve the underlying structural problem, he said. It rewarded only a narrow band of full-time formal mining workers, not the majority subcontracted workers and others, and therefore exacerbated the differences between them. Moreover, in rewarding full-time mining employees, it took money away from the regions. Mining companies agreed with this solution because they care narrowly about their own workers, he said, but the government needed to concern itself with the broader interests of all. In this sense, the government would need to mediate among the competing interests of the workers, the mining regions, and the Peruvian people, which he repeated would require raising the profit taxes on these companies. (Comment: In this and other instances, Humala cast himself in the role of impartial statesman rather than rabble-rousing opposition leader. End Comment.) Juridical Security, Foreign Investment, Free Trade --------------------------------------------- ----- 6. (C) The Ambassador responded to Ollanta's mining sector proposals by emphasizing the importance of juridical security to attract foreign investment. Humala acknowledged the importance of juridical security and foreign investment, and raised the example of the Melia Hotel chain in Cuba. He said he once asked the chain's Cuba manager why they had so many hotels on the island, and the manager responded that they felt safe because they knew that Cuba's laws never change. (Note: We shared a laugh at the irony. End Note.) Humala then argued that companies in Peru today only enjoy juridical security on paper. What good are legal norms if social conflicts halt production? He insisted that if the government followed his model, juridical security would in fact be more sustainable. 7. (C) Ambassador McKinley raised the importance of free trade to Peru's future. Countries throughout the world are competing for investment and markets in a process that cannot be stopped and that far transcends commercial relations between Peru and the U.S., he said. Peru can either stand aside and watch or jump in and benefit. Arguing that he is not a leftist, Humala accepted the importance of trade but said it more important that it be "equitable" than free. As far as the bilateral free trade agreement went, he said that Peru would never be able compete with the U.S. in a host of areas and feared that Peru's potential to develop critical national industries would be undermined as a result. Both agreed to disagree on this issue. Humala continued by pointing out that FTA conventions on labor and the environment, which were generally positive, had been inserted thanks to pressure by the US Congress. It was ironic, he noted, that the U.S. congress had done more to represent the interests of Peruvian workers and the environment in this case than had Peru's own congress or government. Constitutional Reform --------------------- 8. (C) Turning to constitutional reform -- a topic recently debated in Congress (Ref A) -- Ollanta claimed that the 1993 Constitution lacked legitimacy because it was written by Fujimori-era criminals and approved in a referendum marked by fraud. Humala said the piecemeal reforms proposed and rejected in Congress last week will not suffice and that his party proposed returning to the 1979 Constitution. He said he was calling for a referendum on the 1979 Constitution because the public supports such a change, and observed that the debate over the constitution had caused serious fractures in Congress and within the ruling APRA party itself. Humala said he will continue pushing the issue and accused the President of reneging on his campaign promise to return to the 1979 document. (Note: According the recent polls, fewer than 20% of Peruvians favor a return to the 1979 Constitution. End Note.) New Horizons ------------ 9. (C) The Ambassador and Humala closed with an in depth discussion of the New Horizons bilateral military-humanitarian mission currently underway in Ayacucho region. (Note: The Humala-funded La Primera newpaper and several PNP Congresspeople have been harshly critical of the project and have accused the USG of planning to establish a military base to replace the Manta FOL. End Note) The Ambassador explained that the three-month mission would has primarily humanitarian goals -- performing surgeries, building schools, digging wells -- and that at the end, US troops will all return home. He emphasized that it was a bilateral exercise, that everything had been closely coordinated with and vetted by the GOP, and that the Peruvian military and police had lead responsibility for force protection and security. Contrary to some inflammatory media reports, he said, US weapons were being warehoused under lock and key. 10. (C) Humala then asked a series of pointed questions about the exercise: Why did participating doctors and engineers have to be uniformed military rather than civilians? The Ambassador responded that the mission was also intended to support the training of Peruvian and U.S. military personnel to deal with natural and other disasters, a capability which other organizations lacked. Why was the mission located on the edge of a narcotics-producing region in a sensitive zone of historical conflict -- and what would the US do if an American soldier or a Peruvian civilian was accidentally injured or killed? The Ambassador responded that we believed in the Peruvian government's ability to provide security and were working carefully to ensure the safety of Americans and Peruvians alike. Humala then noted the imminent closing of the Manta FOL in Ecuador (claiming that President Correa had told him the decision was definitive), and asked about U.S. intentions to establish a successor to Manta somewhere in Peru. Citing historical examples, the Ambassador noted that the potential closing of the Manta FOL does not mean we necessarily must open a new base in some other country, and reiterated that the U.S. has no intention to establish a base in Peru. Comment: A Positive Meeting --------------------------- 11. (C) Although we probably did not change Humala's opinions on the key issues, the dialogue was cordial and a level of trust was built. In comments to the press while traveling in Ayacucho later that week that faithfully reflected the spirit and content of the exchange, Humala stated that, although there was reason for concern about New Horizons, the U.S. Ambassador had promised him that US troops were in Ayacucho temporarily and would return to the U.S. when the exercise ended. Ambassador McKinley saw Humala again at a diplomatic function on June 25th, and in a friendly conversation Humala endorsed the Ambassador's upcoming trip to Ayacucho to explain New Horizons to a skeptical public. Humala also mentioned that he had met and posed for photographs with an independent American missionary/medical team in the area. Humala added that one focus of protests in Ayacucho on July 8th - 9th --part of a broader national strike -- would be the presence of US troops. (Note: We have asked New Horizons to stand down on July 8-9 as a precaution. End Note.) MCKINLEY =======================CABLE ENDS============================ id: 144228 date: 3/4/2008 17:59 refid: 08LIMA389 origin: Embassy Lima classification: CONFIDENTIAL destination: header: VZCZCXYZ0950 PP RUEHWEB DE RUEHPE #0389/01 0641759 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 041759Z MAR 08 FM AMEMBASSY LIMA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8088 INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 1932 RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 5556 RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7786 RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 3301 RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1081 RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR 4766 RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO PRIORITY 9463 RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 1783 RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 1775 RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL PRIORITY ----------------- header ends ---------------- C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 000389 SIPDIS SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/04/2018 TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PINR, PE SUBJECT: RADICALS HIJACK CUSCO PROTESTS; CITY LOSES APEC EVENT Classified By: POL/C ALEXIS LUDWIG FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) 1. (C) Summary: Radical union and student leaders recently led a strike to protest a law that would facilitate private investment in tourist services at archeological sites, effectively shutting down the city of Cusco February 21-22. Residents of Cusco broadly rejected the law and said it favored deep-pocketed investors and tourists over poorer local residents, but accepted changes made by Congress to give Regional Presidents flexibility in implementation. Radicals who sought to exploit public sentiments for political gain have clear ties to Peruvian Nationalist Party (PNP) leader Ollanta Humala, the communist Patria Roja party, and (in some cases) Venezuela-sponsored ALBA houses. Humala's own role was indirect (via proxies), and most local analysts said Venezuela was not behind the protests (the GOP disagrees). The intensity of the strike and the prospect of another one soon -- part of a larger dynamic of radical actions seeking to incite instability during Peru's year of summits -- led the government to move the scheduled April APEC event from Cusco to another location. End Summary. A Month of Protests: Timeline of Events --------------------------------------- 2. (C) The February 21 to 22 general strike that shut down commerce and movement in Cusco was the culmination of a series of protests launched to oppose a law passed by Congress in December 2007 (Law 29164) to facilitate private investment in tourist services for archeological sites. About five thousand university students on January 16 led the first protest, which was reportedly handled poorly by local police. Regional government and civic leaders saw the political value of the first protest and called a general march on January 23 that attracted some 20-50 thousand locals to a peaceful rally and series of speeches. Regional leaders followed these marches with a general strike on February 7th that attracted fewer people but slowed activity in the city; local observers described that strike as peaceful and festive. To preempt further protest, Congress agreed to modify Law 29164 to allow Regional Presidents to decide, at their discretion, whether or how to implement the law in their regions. Cusco's Regional President welcomed this change and called for dialogue with the central government. Several local contacts argued that the modifications were not perfect but hat no further strikes could be justified. 3. (C) Just as it seemed the protest would fade, a group of radical union and student leaders hijacked the movement and called for a two-day stoppage of commerce and traffic in the region on February 21-22. Radical leaders had been planning this strike for at least two weeks and had discussed attempting to storm the airport on February 9, according to internet documents. Although local sources say only about 3,000 people participated in this strike -- some reportedly under threat of fine by union leaders -- observers described a surprisingly intense and effective shutdown of the city and surrounding region. Taxis and shops that tried to do business were attacked with rocks; roads were blocked with boulders; trains from Cusco to Machu Picchu were cancelled; and a minor assault on the airport was turned back. Local observers added that while one-day strikes are common in Cusco, two-day strikes are unprecedented. Cusco Residents Reject Law for Discriminating against Locals --------------------------------------------- --------------- 4. (C) Cusco residents rejected the archeological law for a variety of reasons. Many locals say they fear the law would exacerbate the over-commercialization of the region's historical patrimony that is creating a society that is deeply stratified between tourists and locals. Several pointed out to poloff that, while tourists have access to the best services the city offers, dark-skinned locals are turned away at the door; archeological sites that locals once entered freely are now off limits to everyone but the wealthy. Several embassy contacts argued that the real purpose of the law was to enrich people tied to former President Toledo -- whose party proposed the bill -- including his wife and vice president, who have purchased tracts of land near a significant yet underdeveloped Cusco archeological site. Many others opposed the law based on misinformation: embassy contacts reported that local journalists interviewed protestors who said they were fighting to prevent America from buying Machu Picchu. More rationally, the Regional President's General Manager told poloff that Cusco's grievances would have surely been addressed if Congress had followed the normal process of consultation with the regions before passing the bill. Radicals Co-opt and Manipulate Grievances ----------------------------------------- 5. (C) Just as it seemed the wind would go from the sails of the protests, a variety of radical local leaders effectively manipulated Cusco's grievances for political gain. The following is a brief sketch of key protest leaders and their established links to groups such as the communist Patria Roja party, nationalist opposition leader Ollanta Humala and his Peruvian Nationalist Party (PNP), and (in at least one case) Venezuela-sponsored ALBA houses: a) Efrain Yepez: The most visible leader of the two-day strike, Yepez is coordinator of Cusco's Regional Assembly -- a grouping of syndical and civic leaders -- and secretary general of the Departmental Federation of Cusco Workers (FDTC). Linked to the Nationalist Party, Yepez openly campaigned for Ollanta Humala in the 2006 presidential election and invited Humala to speak at the February 7 protest as well as at another protest in November. (Ollanta attended in November but not February.) Yepez is also tied to ALBA: an article recently deleted from ALBA's Peru website (www.alba-peru.net) describes Yepez as a member of Cusco's ALBA delegation; internal documents obtained by the media reportedly title him the Secretary for Institutional Relations in Cusco. Yepez has publicly admitted these links but calls them minimal. b) Bernardo Dolmos Bengoa: Another prominent strike leader, Dolmos is vice pr