Guadalupe Pardo / Reuters New Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, July 29, 2016.

Progress and Progressivism in Peru

Kuczynski's Running Start as President

The rising rejection of leftist populism in Latin American democracies gained a new leader in August with the inauguration in Peru of President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, an accomplished international economist with progressive social goals. Flanked by fellow presidents from Argentina, Colombia, Chile, and Mexico, Kuczynski took office on July 28 as part of a fresh political lineup in Latin America that stands opposed to the radical socialism championed by Hugo Chavez, the late Venezuelan strongman, and his handpicked successor, Nicholas Maduro. This authoritarian statism has contributed to a decade of economic decline for most of Latin America’s 600 million people, most dramatically in Venezuela. 

As a sign of Lima's growing distance from Caracas, the Peruvian congress adopted a declaration last week calling on Maduro to release political prisoners and respect a vote to recall him as president. That declaration was followed by Peru’s joining a resolution in the Organization of American States that called on Venezuela to negotiate with the opposition for a solution to the humanitarian crisis caused by food and medical shortages. This resolution, supported by the United States and 14 other countries, including Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico, was condemned by Venezuela as interference in its internal affairs. Only three other countries—Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua—voted on Venezuela’s side. 

Kuczynski’s five-year presidency got off to a fast start with a majority approval in congress of his cabinet on August 19 (of 130 legislators in the house, 121 voted in favor). Opinion polls gave Kuczynski’s moderate political style and outreach to the opposition a 60 percent approval rating. Only the hardline leftist parties aligned with Venezuela voted against the new cabinet after Chief Minister Fernando Zavala explained in detail the government’s economic and social program. Zavala said the primary goal was to reduce poverty from 22 percent to 15 percent in five years and expand Peru’s economy with annual growth of five percent. Peru’s minimum wage is equal to $285 monthly, so there is further room for improvement if the economy

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