Ollanta Humala

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Ollanta Humala is an ex army officer and ultra-nationalist politician. Narrowly defeated in the 2006 presidential elections, he is now the de facto leader of the opposition.

His father, Isaac Humala, is the ideological founder of the ethnocacerist movement, harking back to the glory days of the Inca Empire before the Spanish Conquest. With his slogan of a “un Peru cobriza” (a copper-coloured
Peru, i.e. a racially Quechua Peru), he gave his seven children Inca names.

Ollanta Humala served as an officer in
Peru’s army during the internal conflict with the Shining Path guerrilla movement, under the dictatorial presidency of Alberto Fujimori. He stands accused of human rights abuses, illegal torture and extrajudicial executions from that time, particularly from his actions at the Madre Mia base near Tingo Maria.

Ollanta’s emergence into the political world occurred in 2000, when he and his brother Antauro led a military uprising in the South, taking control of a mine in order to demand the resignation of President Alberto Fujimori.

He subsequently took a masters in political science and an accelerated course in defence and, despite his insurrection, was admitted back into the army under amnesty from interim president Valentin Paniagua. He served as a military attaché in France and in
South Korea.

On his retirement he returned to Peru, and almost immediately his brother once again mounted an uprising, this time taking by force the police station in the mountain town of
Andahuaylas. Ollanta has been implicated as the mastermind of the insurrection, which left four police and two reservists dead.

In 2005 he started the Nacionalist Party of
Peru and, in alliance with the Union For Peru party stood as a presidential candidate. His campaign resonated strongly with the poverty stricken people of the high mountains, and his popularity rose meteorically, culminating in a surprise lead going into the second round against runner up candidate Alan Garcia. Humala was seen as tough on crime, tough on corruption and revolutionary, at times dictatorial. It has been suggested that many of his campaign pledges were populist and impossible to implement, and detractors claim that he is little more than a puppet for his more extremist brother Antauro and his intelligent, politically astute wife Nadine Heredia.

Although originally accused of anti-Semitism, Humala later found strong support among the Peruvian Jewish community, which is understood to have been a major source of his campaign funding.

Humala was narrowly defeated in the second round of elections, with slightly over 47% of valid votes, but his support was strongly demarcated along regional and socio-economic lines. He remains extremely popular with the urban poor and in large swathes of economically depressed, Quechua-dominated mountain regions. In several departments in the southern
Andes he gained a strong majority, sometimes claiming over 80% of the vote.

In the wake of the elections there were serious splits in his party, but he is now the uncontested leader of the opposition in
Peru. There are rumours that he hopes to gain power through a military coup before the next presidential elections.

One Response

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