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Viewing cable 07LIMA2129, REFORM WITHOUT REVOLUTION: THE VIEW FROM PUNO

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07LIMA2129 2007-06-19 17:05 2011-02-25 12:12 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Lima
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPE #2129/01 1701712
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 191712Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5894
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 1681
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4772
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7409
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0477
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JUN MONTEVIDEO 9201
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 1284
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 1330
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
UNCLAS LIMA 002129 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
USEU PASS TO MCKINLEY 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: CU PE PGOV PINR PTER SNAR VE
SUBJECT: REFORM WITHOUT REVOLUTION: THE VIEW FROM PUNO 
 
REF: A. LIMA 1841 
 
     B. LIMA 2000 
     C. LIMA 2...
id: 112682
date: 6/19/2007 17:12
refid: 07LIMA2129
origin: Embassy Lima
classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
destination: 07LIMA1841
header:
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPE #2129/01 1701712
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 191712Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5894
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 1681
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4772
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7409
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0477
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JUN MONTEVIDEO 9201
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 1284
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 1330
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL


----------------- header ends ----------------

UNCLAS LIMA 002129 

SIPDIS 

SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 

USEU PASS TO MCKINLEY 

E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: CU PE PGOV PINR PTER SNAR VE
SUBJECT: REFORM WITHOUT REVOLUTION: THE VIEW FROM PUNO 

REF: A. LIMA 1841 

     B. LIMA 2000 
     C. LIMA 2009 
     D. LIMA 2026 

Sensitive But Unclassified, Please Handle Accordingly. 

1.  (SBU) Comment: Despite grinding poverty, bumbling local 
government, and flaring racial animosities, revolutionary 
political action in the altiplano department of Puno is 
unlikely, even though Puno is an historic center of Peruvian 
radicalism.  Regional officials describe themselves as 
pragmatic leftists in desperate need of funds to build 
schools, roads, and medical clinics.  The opposition, NGOs, 
the press, and political analysts say the real issue is 
competence, not money or ideology, with an inept and 
increasingly unpopular regional president, Hernan Fuentes, 
attacking opponents in an attempt to hold on to office. 
Enough smoke exists to suggest Venezuelan agents are trying 
to exploit the unrest, but in Puno, as in much of Peru, 
long-standing local grievances predate Venezuelan meddling. 
The example of Puno suggests Bolivarian propaganda carries 
little weight for dissatisfied citizens seeking tangible 
benefits from local governments.  In spite of the glaring 
failures of democratic representatives to deliver services, 
most citizens of Puno are seeking reform, not revolution. 
End Comment 

-------------------- 
The Problems in Puno 
-------------------- 

2.  (SBU) The southern highland province of Puno, with a 
regional capital of the same name, has long been one of 
Peru's most isolated and singular areas, noted for fiercely 
independent Aymara communities in the south, wide-open 
smuggling across the long border with Bolivia, and an 
affinity for far-left radicalism.  The region is 80 per cent 
indigenous.  Regional president Hernan Fuentes of the Advanza 
Pais party won elections in November 2006, with the smallest 
plurality of any candidate in the country -- 20 per cent of 
the popular vote; runner-up Jose Bautista received 19 per 
cent. 

3.  (SBU) Fuentes told poloff June 7 that his government is 
pragmatic, not ideological, and would accept help from anyone 
who offered it.  In his words, "If the United States would 
give me money, I would be a capitalist."  Fuentes added that 
the number one issue facing the government was unsafe and 
poorly maintained roads -- trips of less than 300 kilometers 
can take as long as 24 hours -- and he lambasted the Garcia 
administration for ignoring the province and for failing to 
provide the funds necessary to repair crumbling 
infrastructure.  He also criticized NGOs, who he said "have 
not completed one public work in the last 20 years."  Fuentes 
plans to convoke NGOs to obtain a clear accounting of how 
they have spent funds, and he is looking into the possibility 
of requiring international donors to give aid directly to the 
regional government. 

4.  (SBU) The Director General of education in Puno, Saul 
Bermejo, described the quality of public education in Puno as 
"dismal."  Many classes are held in condemned buildings that 
pose a safety threat to schoolchildren.  Eighty-six percent 
of students are unable to perform at the appropriate grade 
level, and no bi-lingual programs exist, even though most 
children entering school do not speak Spanish.  Local schools 
follow a curriculum dictated by the central government, which 
emphasizes memorization of literary classics, a pedagogy that 
Bermejo says fails to interest the children of poor farmers. 
Bermejo noted that 40 per cent of public school children in 
Puno's sister city of Juliaca attend private schools, a clear 
repudiation of the provincial public school system. 

5.  (SBU) The director of the Bolivarian Alternative for 
Latin America (ALBA) center, Maricail Maydana, and the 
regional director for decentralization, Cesar Esquivel, 
complained that 70 percent of Puno's citizens live in 
poverty, but the central government fails to provide the 
funding needed to offer adequate health care.  Maydana said 
the regional government, in desperation, had turned to 
Venezuela for help, and Venezuela had responded by 
subsidizing medical treatment for Puno residents in the 
nearby town of Copacabana, Bolivia.  Esquivel emphasized that 
Venezuela offered pragmatic not ideological support, and he 
said the regional government was socialist only in the sense 
that it sought a fairer distribution of resources.  Esquivel 
said Fuentes was a leftist, but a "Puno leftist," who would 
create a from of government independent of the model offered 
by either Venezuela or Cuba. 

------------------------ 
Politics without Results 
------------------------ 

6.  (SBU) Fuentes' critics -- and they are many -- have 
complained that the problem in Puno is not lack of money but 
Fuentes' inability to govern.  After six months in power, the 
government has spent less than one percent of the annual 
funds earmarked for public works and has yet to announce 
plans for social development.  The only jobs filled in the 
regional government have gone to eight members of Fuentes' 
immediate family, including his sister and uncle.  Fuentes 
has clashed openly and repeatedly with the provincial 
assembly over plans to reduce municipal salaries, and 
relations have deteriorated to the point that the 
administration and regional legislature  no longer meet 
regularly. 

7.  (SBU) NGOs and members of the press say there is a darker 
side to Fuentes' incompetence.  They allege that Fuentes has 
organized local thugs to intimidate political opponents and 
has threatened to dissolve the regional  assembly.  Fuentes' 
complaints about NGOs, they say, represent a thinly-disguised 
attempt to muzzle civil society and to divert international 
aid to governmental coffers.  Javier Torres of the NGO 
Servicios Educativo Regales says Fuentes is also a racist. 
In the November 2006 elections, he made overt appeals to 
Quechan nationalism to counter the Aymara-supported campaign 
of Bautista.  Torres says Fuentes is heavily influenced by 
the "ethnocacerism" of Antauro Humala, a murky philosophy 
that seeks to return Peru to a past when only indigenous 
persons wielded political power (reftels A and C). 

------------------- 
The Aymara Response 
------------------- 

8. (SBU) Fuentes' direct appeals for Quechua support have not 
gone over well in Aymara-speaking regions of southern Puno, 
which contain the majority of the population.  (These regions 
split their vote in the 2006 elections, allowing Fuentes to 
win.)  In mid-May the Aymara mayors of four districts in the 
south formed the Union of Municipalities (UMA), a political 
party seeking greater social development in local villages 
and advocating closer ties with Aymara communities in 
northern Bolivia.  According to Woodrow Andia, the director 
of CARE in Puno, this kind of Aymara nationalism flares 
periodically in Puno when social tensions rise.  Andia says 
Felipe Quispe, an Aymara leader from Bolivia with ties to 
terrorism, makes periodic trips to UMA areas to try to win 
support. 

--------------------------- 
Where is the Bolivarianism? 
--------------------------- 

9.  (SBU) Javier Molina of the NGO Peru Network in Puno says 
Venezuelan operatives have approached UMA representatives 
with offers of support (Molina has no direct evidence of 
this, but has heard it is the case).  Molina insists the 
Venezuelans have met a cold reception, because the Aymaras 
seek social development in geographically limited areas and 
are uninterested in socialism or in larger questions of 
international politics.  Fuentes' close association with 
Caracas, moreover, has discredited Venezuela in the eyes of 
many Aymara leaders. 

10. (SBU) Political analysts and reporters estimate that less 
than 25 percent of voters are sympathetic to Bolivarianism, 
and analysts note that the ruling APRA party pulled 16 
percent of the vote in provincial elections.  (Evo Morales is 
widely popular, but he is admired for his poor, indigenous 
background, not for his political views.)  Andia calls the 
regional government's calls for socialism and public embrace 
of Venezuelan diplomats a "marketing ploy" designed to draw 
attention away from Fuentes' inability to get anything done. 
Political analyst Percy Medina says that Puno is a 
traditional stronghold of radicalism, but a radicalism that 
lacks ideological content and represents a repudiation of all 
things Lima.  According to Medina, Ollanta Humala won 
widespread support in the 2006 presidential elections by 
portraying himself as the anti-establishment candidate, but 
one year later, his support has dropped to less than 10 per 
cent of the population, because Puno residents doubt his 
radical nationalism can improve their lives. 

--------------------------------------------- ------ 
Comment: Decentralization, Venezuela, and Democracy 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 

11.  (SBU) A politically clumsy regional president lacking 
the technical skills to run government presents hard choices 
for the ambitious decentralization plans of President Garcia 
(reftel D).  If Garcia sends funds to Puno, the money may be 
wasted or strengthen a regional president with a lukewarm 
commitment to democracy.  If Puno is starved of funds, social 
discontent could find outlet in one of the many forms of 
radicalism present in Puno.  For now, most residents blame 
Fuentes for doing nothing to fix bad schools and bad roads, 
but if provincial inaction continues, the smoldering distrust 
and resentment that exists towards local government is likely 
to be redirected towards Lima.  Former president Alberto 
Fujimori won over the province by funding social development 
directly from Lima, bypassing local officials, an 
anti-democratic option unavailable to Garcia. 

12.  (SBU) The widespread media coverage in Lima of the 
Bolivarian threat in Puno (reftel B) shows the danger of 
viewing all conflict through the lens of Venezuelan 
agitation.  Many in Puno say Venezuelan diplomats are handing 
over cash to campesino leaders in the countryside to foment 
protests -- though hard facts are missing -- but the 
ubiquitous poverty of the region provides sufficient reason 
for unrest without Venezuelan meddling.  Puno's long history 
of smuggling makes most residents practical opportunists 
uninterested in ideology.  Campesinos will take Venezuelan 
money, but it is doubtful that cash will buy long-term 
support or allow Bolivarianism to gain ascendance in the 
swirling currents of Puno radicalism. 

13.  (SBU) Finally, in spite of a regional government on the 
verge of failure six months into a five year term, the anger 
in Puno remains focused on holding local officials 
accountable for substandard services, not on a desire for 
revolutionary change.  Few want to return to the turmoil that 
marked the 10-year struggle against terrorism, and the demand 
for social and political transformation voiced by Bolivarian, 
communist, nationalist, and ethnocacerist leaders in Puno is 
not shared by the general populace.  Fuentes is likely to 
face mounting protests in the coming months, but protests 
that  focus on the need to find more doctros and teachers. 
Radicals are popular because the central government is often 
seen as indifferent to local needs, but even radicals, at 
some point, will have to make sure the trains run on time. 


STRUBLE 

=======================CABLE ENDS============================