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Volume 53 / Social Sciences


DAVID SCOTT PALMER, Professor of International Relations and Political Science, and Director, Latin American Studies Program, Boston University

THIS BELEAGUERED COUNTRY has been passing through one of the most tumultuous periods in its political history, which is amply reflected in both the number and quality of the interpretations and analyses reviewed for HLAS 53. Principal areas of concern include the ongoing guerrilla war and its associated political violence and human rights abuses, crises in political parties and the rise of independent alternatives, the April 1992 autogolpe and the "informalization" of politics paralleling the growing informal economy, attempts at regionalization in the context of sharp reductions in central government capacity, and the continuing challenge of drug production and trafficking. No other Latin American country faced the range and depth of problems as Peru in the early 1990s.

Several important book-length studies on Peruvian politics have now been published in English, offsetting a prior dearth of in-depth treatments of post-1980 Peru. Most notable are Rudolph (item bi 92016298), Graham (item bi 92015832), Crabtree (item bi 92014394), Poole and Rénique (item bi 93001225), and Palmer (item bi 92009056). In addition, Masterson offers a valuable overview of the Peruvian military and its political role, 1930-80 (item bi 91025206). Comparable overviews in Spanish by Peruvian academics and analysts demonstrate once again the strength and diversity of that intellectual community. Must reads include Degregori (item bi 92009068), Gorriti (see HLAS 52:2480), Pareja Pflucker and Torres Montes (item bi 93005800), Avila, Basombrio, and Rojas (item bi 92009066), and the Comisión Especial (item bi 91013824).

The theme of the paradox of formal democracy in the context of widening and deepening political violence stands out in a significant proportion of materials reviewed in addition to those cited above. Of particular note is the definitive electoral data provided by Tuesta Soldevilla for 1931-86 (item bi 93005807) and by Torres Guzmán for 1978-86 (item bi 91013841); the latter also includes demographic and opinion poll data through 1989. There are also a number of useful compilations, presentations, and analyses of political party platforms and positions. On the Izquierda Unida (IU), of note are Pásara (item bi 91013854), Pease García on IU's municipal government policies for Lima (item bi 92009065), and the party's First National Congress (item bi 91013844). On APRA, see President García's speeches 1985-88 (item bi 93002300) and his remarkable defense against corruption charges (item bi 93005801).

On the Vargas Llosa campaign trajectory, see the FREDEMO plan (item bi 91021713), the Fujimori-Vargas Llosa debate (item bi 92009076) and the post-election self-criticisms by Mario Vargas Llosa (item bi 92016529) and his son Alvaro (item bi 92009077). Key interpretations of the 1980-90 formal democratic dynamic in Peru are offered by Pease García (item bi 91013858), Rochabrún Silva (item bi 89003338), Dietz (item bi 91004791), Pendzich (item bi 92009080), Cameron (item bi 93009151), and Durand (item bi 92010138).

Several studies reflect on the possibilities for solving the country's political problems through decentralization and regionalization, a central theme of both the García and Fujimori Administrations. Among the most useful are Adrianzén (item bi 90012388), Pease García and Jibaja Vargas-Prada (item bi 91007561), Franco (item bi 91021651), Méndez (item bi 91006449), and the Instituto de Desarrollo Urbano (item bi 91013823). The local urban social and political context for which decentralization would presumably provide solutions is the subject of several important analyses, including Cotler (item bi 91018982), Mejía Navarrete (item bi 91013850), Stokes (item bi 91006501) and Graham (item bi 91006014). The surprising growth of grassroots Protestant churches receives groundbreaking treatment by Klaiber (item bi 93009267), while labor union membership and dynamics are analyzed by Balbí (item bi 91013842), Rospigliosi (item bi 91013853), and Haworth (item bi 91014690).

Peru's distressing economic situation is the subject of some significant critical analyses as well, most notably by Schydlowsky (items bi 91007113 and bi 89003530), Whitehead (item bi 90014250), and the Instituto Libertad y Democracia (item bi 91013822). The drug production and trafficking issue continues to attract considerable research interest as well, though more on policy and politics than on its economic implications. Programs under the auspices of the Univ. of Miami's North-South Center and the Lima-based Comisión Andina de Juristas, among others, have been holding regular conferences and publishing their findings - on Peru, as the world's largest coca producer - but on the other Latin American production and trafficking countries as well.

The most numerous contributions for HLAS 53, however, deal with the problems of political violence and the grave danger this poses for Peru's future. As is to be expected, widely divergent perspectives and conclusions are offered. The following overviews are particularly valuable: McCormick (item bi 91013826) and Spalding (item bi 92015914), both very pessimistic; the NACLA Report on the Americas pieces (items bi 93001888 and bi 93010041) and the ILDIS collection (item bi 91024470), emphasizing Shining Path capacity and strength; contributions to the Palmer volume (item bi 92009056) and McClintock's analyses (items bi 90012887 and bi 90011380), pointing out the guerrillas' limitations and vulnerabilities; and the "muddling through" conclusions offered by Mauceri (item bi 93002299) and Dietz (item bi 91026803). Other significant overviews include Hertoghe (item bi 91013825), Bourque and Warren (item bi 89003267), and the compendium Siete ensayos sobre la violencia en el Perú (item bi 93005813).

Another important set of articles and monographs on Peru's political violence concentrates on human rights abuses, especially Haya de la Torre (item bi 93005808), Espinoza Montesinos (item bi 93005810), and Amnesty International (item bi 93005812). Also prominent are reports by Americas Watch (item bi 92007490), and the Washington Office on Latin America (item bi 92009080). A different focus, concentrating on the military's role and responsibilities, is offered by Fernández Salvatteci (item bi 93005805), and former armed forces commander-in-chief and head of state Morales Bermúdez (item bi 90012226).

The impact of Shining Path at the local level also receives considerable attention. Particularly useful are Los niños de la guerra (item bi 91013852), Puno hoy (item bi 91013820), Franco (item bi 93005799), Perú 1990 (item bi 91013835), Gorriti (item bi 91007074), and Carrillo (item bi 92018989). Providing a larger context for Sendero in action are a group of studies which present and/or analyze the organization's ideology, leadership, strategy, and tactics. Martínez Alier (item bi 90008598) and Gorriti (item bi 90010816) provide important insights on Sendero leadership. Matías (item bi 93005797), Johnson (item bi 91005164), Biondi Shaw (item bi 91013838), Wheat (item bi 91009354), Rojas Samanez (item bi 91013829), and Granados (item bi 93005814) offer substantive analyses and critiques of Shining Path ideology, strategy, and tactics. Rosenberg (item bi 90010817) and Montoya and Reyna (item bi 92020464) discuss the organization's approach to gain support in Lima, universities, and prisons. Finally, Strong offers a chilling description of the overseas network, particularly in Europe, of small Maoist parties which support Sendero (item bi 92009734).

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