Ollanta Humala, “Neither Left, Nor Right” — An Interview

Ollanta Humala.
Ollanta Humala.
Ollanta Humala.

LIMA, Peru — Anti-establishment, “chavista,” ethnic nationalist—these are some of the terms that people have used to stigmatize him. But Ollanta Humala, the most likely presidential candidate for the Peruvian Nationalist Party, shuns these epithets. He wants a new economic system and to change the Constitution. He says all the other possible candidates represent “fujimorismo” without Fujimori.

He met with us at his party headquarters in the neighborhood of San Isidro. In the interview, he denied planning any nationalizations, accepted that his movement had been infected by deserters, accused the current government of being pro-Chile, and proposed to revitalize the Armed Forces.

What is your relationship with Hugo Chávez?

We don’t have any obligation to Hugo Chávez, or to Evo Morales, or to Obama or Sarkozy. The obligation we have is to the Peruvian people. Nationalism in Peru is going to be constructed without replicating and without copying. Our opponents—who control the press and television, who have private communications firms at their disposal, intelligence systems, who have majorities in Congress, and more money than we have—have tried to turn our strengths into weaknesses. Look at all the potential candidates for the presidency, or even for mayor. I ask you, have any of these people demonstrated a commitment to working for this country? Have they done any military service? Their commitment to the country has been limited to politics-for-profit. None of them have gone to work in emergency zones. I defended my country in the Cenepa conflict. [1] I rose in arms against the Fujimori family’s regime. I’ve been a soldier…

The military life is not the only way to serve the country.

I don’t mean to say that other ways are less valid, but rather that I’ve demonstrated since my youth my commitment to the country. And it doesn’t seem fair to me that people say that I, who have demonstrated my willingness to give my life for my country, am going to turn my homeland over to Chávez. That seems ridiculous to me. It makes me laugh. I’ve tried to build a friendly political relationship with all the governments out there, because we believe that if we want to enact a great transformation, we need to work toward Latin American unity…

But you have greater affinity with some governments.

I don’t believe so. That’s what our opponents say, because they’re always trying to bring ideology into it. When someone says “let’s get the country on the right track,” then they say “this guy’s a follower of Chávez, of (Evo) Morales, (Luiz Inácio) Lula (da Silva).” If you aspire to office to transform the State, then you’re part of the Axis of Evil. So, in order to avoid inclusion in the Axis of Evil, you have to avoid doing anything. We don’t follow that ideology. Ownership of natural resources is a question of principles, whether here or in China. The United States recognizes government ownership of its State resources, as they do in Chile, as they do in Venezuela, as they do in Bolivia.