Jorge del Castillo | The new challenges of democracy in the world and the well-being of the human being in harmony with Mother Earth.
Good afternoon. First of all, thank you very much for this invitation, it is also the first time I’m participating in an event of this nature, and I am really delighted with the concepts that I have been listening to.
As you have heard of my resume (which may have been a little bit smaller), I am a politician (let's say so) practical; I have acted thanks to my political life in various regions of my district, to be prime minister of my country, scale by scale. So that gives me an experience that I somehow want to transfer at this time.
The concept is: "The new challenges of democracy in the world"; and the other point is: "the well-being of the human being in harmony with Mother Earth.” Let's start with the first.
What are the new challenges? Well, we live every day in Latin America, that is, we have to give a little back to our countries and we realize that these challenges are absolutely valid; and many countries are in a line, on an edge to pass it under any circumstance.
For example, political instability. The political instability is reflected in what has been said a moment ago: the denial of the alternation of power, the concentration of power, the denial of the balance of powers, the option that there is no independence of the judicial power, less of the public prosecutor, less of the electoral system; everything – there are governments that want to have everything in one fist and manage.
Today is Wednesday, three days ago there were elections in Venezuela and nobody will be able to say that there has been independence of the electoral system; obviously not. So, you see, it is a brother country, one of the richest countries in Latin America, and today it is going through a tremendous situation of poverty or maldistribution of its wealth.
So, the economic issue, the issue of political instability is serious. When there is an authoritarian government, the first thing that it affects is the freedom of expression, and that is also in the theory of the coup d'état. When there is a coup d'etat, the first thing the military or coup leaders take is the means of communication, precisely so that it is not known; and there are other authoritarian forms taken by the media.
Today, times have changed. In my country, Peru, in the dictatorship of General Velasco, they expropriated the media. In the Fujimori dictatorship they no longer expropriated them, they bought them, they gave them money in cash, there are videos that prove it.
Today, fortunately, we have full freedom of expression, but those risks that happened in Peru also occur in other countries, we are seeing it. They buy, through an intermediary person, media under threat of dispossession, or whatever, or they simply do not give them paper, or they take away the television signal; those threats are absolutely valid at this time.
And what do I say, then, about the electoral systems? Well, let’s not get started, I will not insist on that point.
The economic instability. Economic instability is also a very complicated element, because it implies fiscal imbalance, absolute tax instability, lack of macroeconomic foundations, erratic policies, and all that prevents a process of natural economic development; and in addition, public investment and associated with private investment, sometimes also has, in all countries, tremendous impacts of corruption.
All the countries of Latin America, well maybe not all, but many Latin American countries today, are looking at the corruption scenario of Odebrecht and other companies that have gone country by country buying entrepreneurs, paying public officials, sometimes from the President of the Republic to employees at the third or fourth level.
That is, they had the whole system covered, and that really in Latin America ... and not only in Latin America, because they have also built in the state of Florida in the United States, to the point that they have had to reach an economic settlement with the United States so that they do not take everything away from them. But this means that the system of controls does not work, because even though there are some control mechanisms they have been able to go under and do what they have done, in unthinkable quantities!
But that's what democracy is for, because not only was it enough for them to get the contracts in the ways you have seen it everywhere, but they also entered into the financing of the policy, and in the financing of the policy, candidacies were bought to secure the subsequent contracts.
Nobody gives 35 million dollars to a party to not be benefited later (or any other amount whatsoever). Of course, they say: "No, we have financed campaigns and that is not punishable.” Yes, but after the campaign you took contracts for billions of dollars; It is not so easy or it is not so difficult to deduce the effect of the cause.
So this implies that the countries of Latin America can and should have an approved proposal to fight against corruption in these cases, this transnational corruption; and it has not been companies of imperialist countries as sometimes some complain, but brother countries, and that has happened and we are seeing it every day, unfortunately.
What else can we do on this issue to fight against corruption? I liked this idea that I heard on the morning of the Inter-American Court to fight against corruption. It’s interesting, do you know why? Because the impunity of these cases sometimes surpasses our judicial powers, our public ministry.
So, in our own countries we do not have the guarantee that there will be no sanction. On the contrary, there is the perception that impunity can continue, and that is the worst example that one can give the population, because the population finally tends to say: "They’re all thieves, they’re all corrupt." Sure, there are three, four, ten, fifty, whatever you want, but they put everyone in the same bag.
So this is a point at which the Inter-American Court to Combat Corruption (which has been spoken of in the morning), can be an effective alternative, just as the Inter-American Court of Human Rights sometimes implies a rectification of judicial decisions that abuse of human rights, also there we can have a supranational instance that can allow us to fight impunity.
Legal instability is also another extremely complicated aspect; not only the judicial power with corrupt or of little predictability, but also the own instability of the public contracts.
No investment will come to a country if it does not have clear rules, if it is afraid that one day the president will pass by and will not like something and exposes his expropriation, as it also happens. No, we are not talking about dreams; it happens. Or they change the rules of taxation or they want to change the contract halfway. So I think that legal stability has to understand all those aspects to give legal security to a country.
And finally, at this point, social stability, which seems to be fundamental to me, because it turns out that when the process of developing countries begins, social conflictivity grows in a directly proportional way.
For example, a process of mining price recovery is beginning; I am absolutely sure that the social conflicts resulting from mining will increase. Why? Because there is money, then everyone wants to be a part of what comes out of there (and I think that's fair). But we must find appropriate ways of reaching an understanding with the community, with the farmworker communities, in order to reach agreements.
In that case, we have proposed, for example, I have just presented a bill so that the canon, that is, the distribution of part of the income tax, which in Peru is 30% of the income tax ... is 30% income tax, and half of that income tax is a canon that is distributed to municipalities ... (in short); but it does not reach the farmworker communities, which is usually where the mines are (at least in the case of Peru), or in the jungle zones, in the oil zones.
So we have proposed a bill to create the communal canon, so that part of the fee, which is called canon, is also distributed directly to the communities, so that they have a direct resource; because they usually stay on the road, stay in the district, stay in the province, stay in the regional government, and to the community, which is the one next to the mine, which can be affected by problems or is at risk, nothing comes to it. So there we have a communal canon, an interesting idea.
What threats does democracy have?
In the first place, terrorism, international terrorism does not recognize borders. Once in Argentina they bombed the AMIA, remember? What does Argentina have to do with the conflicts in the Middle East? Well, there you have it.
In Peru we had twenty years of desolation of Shining Path, and that's no small thing; from my party, only from my party, from APRA, 1,350 militants were killed. Look at what ... If they were to kill 1,350 of your own, of any of you, if you are politicians of your political party, your guild or your communities, that is a tremendous degradation, on top of that, murdered in the wildest way.
Then, it turns out that just as the State was not prepared to face terrorism in its first stage and it took almost a decade to capture Abimael Guzmán and company; nowadays we are not prepared for post-trekking either. What happened? Sentenced to 25 years in prison, they are serving their sentences and the same assassins are coming out without any sign of repentance.
Have we prepared for that? In no way. And you know that they can travel from here to there at any time. When MRTA terrorists in Peru pressed them hard, they went to Bolivia, kidnapped ministers, created problems, joined others there.
I mean, it's not a joke. This is an issue that when the United States put Plan Colombia in Colombia, the narcos went to Peru; and they come and go as they please. So these are aspects that one has to take very much into account.
Drug trafficking is another very serious threat against our countries, and we do little on the subject; and it turns out that drug trafficking is not only a problem of producing countries, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, but nowadays it is invading the consumption of drugs in our own countries.
Many times it was believed: "No, it is a consumer problem in the United States, in Europe ..." Yes, it is true; but nowadays at the school level, in Peru, the consumption of drugs is growing; and it turns out that in the school curriculum there is no line telling the youth, the children, that the use of drugs is dangerous; and we are working with our new Minister of Education on a bill (which I have proposed), precisely to teach children.
Just as the child should to know that the red light means stop, that he or she should not throw a paper out the window, that he or she cannot be doing their business in the middle of the street, they should also know that they cannot put themselves at risk of drug use and what that means to them, because they do not understand; They start with marijuana and end up with anything.
So that is also a problem multiple of our countries, I am absolutely convinced; from Mexico to the Land of Fire.
What else do we have in these risks? It is not so much in our countries, but in other places it is, the nationalism that is felt. Racism persists in our countries; Of course there is. And they say no, that of course we are all in freedom, we are all the same, but then, “let’s not see each other's luck among gypsies"*, there are still many aspects of racism in Latin America. And this is a subject that we must continue fighting, we must continue educating, we must continue acting in that sense.
* Popular saying that means: "let's not fool ourselves"
Political extremism. Well, terrorism can easily be derived from that, but political extremism, fundamentalism and many other things are also extremely dangerous aspects that must be fought.
I want to finish so that I can touch a part of this topic of environmental concerns.
Let's see, one thing is the academic concern and another thing is the reality, stepping on land when one has to govern. So, for example, a country like mine, Peru, half of its income comes from mining. Then what do we do? Do we cut mining in function of the environment and keep nothing? For example, could Venezuela be conceivable without oil or Chile without copper? Very difficult, right?
Then we have to look for a balance between the environment, land, water, and exploitation activities of natural resources. The natural resources underground, if they stay underground, are worthless, they have to go out; but they can come out with appropriate technology that guarantees the environment.
The other day I was in the city of Los Angeles and it caught my attention that in the gardens of the streets, between one track and another, in the middle of the gardens there are oil wells taking out oil all day long; and there is not a drop of spill on the side.
So what one has to demand of the transnational corporations that come to make these investments, is that in your countries they apply the same standards and norms that apply in their countries; because they cannot put standard #10 there and with us standard #1, in environment or labor issues, all the rights over there and exploitation here.
So what is it that the countries of Latin America have to do? Make our criteria homologous, because it turns out that the same companies are going to Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, whatever, but in each country they operate separately, when we could have (if we are integrationists) a point of convergence to have environmental standards, labor standards, tax standards, because that's where it is drawn: "Look, come to my country because I'm going to charge you 3% less than in the other."
If we all have the same standard of the tributary cake (as it is called), these companies have no choice but to come to whichever country. It would then depends on the stability and conditions that a country of another type places on them, but not on the basic rules in which it has to be managed. So, I believe in this a lot.
On the subject of water, water certainly has to be a priority to the human being, agriculture in second place, and other activities in third place. And other activities —for example, mining— have to have (let's say), more water reusing standards. There are mines that can be made by desalinating sea water. Anyway, I think that it is necessary, as a minimum, to take the water that has other uses, and that is fundamental.
In electric power, I think we have to promote an electric integration mechanism in our continent. Just as we have a Pan-American highway that goes from north to south, why can’t we have an electrical integration network between our countries?
In Chile, for example, the representative has already spoken of water shortages in northern Chile, but there is also a shortage of energy. So for that we have the Andes mountain range, to generate hydroelectric energy, in a way that allows us to lower the oil consumption to minimum usage, or natural gas, because those are non-renewable energies; and we can use the renewable energies that the mountain range allows us, in its two slopes.
So if there is an excess of energy production, well it can be sold to other countries; and I think that is a perfectly viable integration between our countries. And we could say the same for other activities, which I think is fundamental.
This is handled under a principle of a regulatory state; and we should not confuse the concept of a regulatory state with the controlling state or owner of the means of production; I am absolutely against that, but I do believe that the State has all the right and all the duty to be able to regulate some kind of activities, precisely to be able to reach understanding and become homologous.
Things ... notice, I tell you, just today in the morning they called me from Ecuador for an interview from a radio station there. What's going on? Peru buys oil from Ecuador, they are neighboring countries, one meter away from each other, but they are sold through an intermediary that comes from China; and we have demanded that Petroperú make an agreement with Petroecuador and directly reach an understanding regarding oil. Why do we have to use an intermediary, and on top of that, China?
Why? Because the intermediary charges them the price of 3, 4, or 5 dollars, then they earn a lot of money, and they throw in the pen at 5 dollars per barrel of oil and millions are sold.
So these really are things that cannot happen and must not happen in our countries. We are brother countries, we are the same people, we speak the same language, in short, a series of similarities; but we sometimes live with our backs facing each other in such elementary things.
So, very well, I think these are the issues; and then my final assessment should be as follows: I think we have to work on integration policies. Encounters like this that serve to generate awareness about the issues, can and should be promoted so that our governments, our parliaments, can take these ideas into account.
I have been told that the Embassy has some legislative ideas or projects; Well, I suggest incorporating these concepts that we have talked about, because I believe that precisely the power of our countries is in the integration.
When in Europe was in a World War, 50 years later they are integrated; in Asia, which cannot even stand to see each other, they are integrated; and we continue playing each other, "dancing with our handkerchief" (as they say); and I think that is something that we have to overcome, improve and integrate gradually, progressively, step by step, but make the dream of Bolívar, of San Martín, a reality in our countries. Thank you very much.
Thank you very much to the representative of the Republic of Peru, Jorge del Castillo; He has mentioned the threats of democracy: terrorism, drug trafficking, racism, political fundamentalisms; He makes a proposal, in the knowledge that the Embassy would also have (excuse the redundancy) law proposals, so that Latin America has an approved proposal, that is, work on integration policies. Thank you very much, representative, for your contribution.