Reuters – Analysis: Peru’s Humala dares to go where Lula never went

“(Reuters) – Peru’s leftist President-elect Ollanta Humala, who takes office on Thursday, has dared to move further toward the center, if not the right, than the man he emulated during his campaign — Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.”

“… the cabinet Humala has assembled, by nearly every measure, is more conservative than the one Lula put together when he took office in Brazil in 2003. That suggests Humala will keep the existing economic model intact while intensifying the fight against poverty that afflicts a third of Peruvians.”

“Humala stunned skeptical investors last week by appointing a veritable “dream team” of two respected economists who are adored by Wall Street to lead the Finance Ministry (Luis Miguel Castilla) and central bank (Julio Velarde). Peru’s stock market rallied and its currency hit a three-year high on the news.”

“Both officials, who have doctorates in economics from top U.S. universities, worked for outgoing President Alan Garcia, a fervent believer in free markets Humala once railed against for benefiting the rich instead of the poor.”

“Humala also chose a prominent exporter to lead the Trade Ministry — a move that ensures the country’s many free-trade agreements with partners ranging from China to the United States will be honored.”

“So far, Humala has faced relatively little rancor in his party for moving toward the center, whereas Lula spent years taming hardliners in his Workers’ Party who complained he had sold his soul to capitalism after making three unsuccessful bids for the presidency as a strident leftist.”

“Lula’s first cabinet was stacked with party insiders, but in Humala’s 18-member Cabinet there are few people who could be regarded as leftists and only several hail from his Gana Peru party, which, unlike the Workers’ Party in Brazil, has a short history and little institutional depth. Most are technocrats, businessmen, or members of the Peru Posible party that Humala hopes will vote with his party in Congress to give it a majority.”

“Lula’s first chief of staff was Jose Dirceu, a former radical who spent time in jail before fleeing to exile in Communist Cuba. Humala’s cabinet chief is Salomon Lerner, a millionaire businessman who has collaborated with governments of virtually every political stripe since the 1970s.”

“But Humala did borrow at least one page from Lula’s playbook when he appointed his cabinet. He named as culture minister Grammy award-winning singer Susana Baca, an important figure in Afro-Peruvian music. She is a contemporary of Brazilian pop star Gilberto Gil, who was Lula’s first minister of culture and sometimes gave impromptu guitar performances after policy speeches.”


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