By World BEYOND War, August 6, 2023
David Swanson’s remarks:
I am mostly here to learn from the rest of you about Peru.
I cannot even offer much guidance on creating nonviolent activism to people who have generated powerful demonstrations, and have even overthrown governments, while I sit in the United States where neither poverty nor injustice nor environmental collapse nor the approach of nuclear war can get people to stand up, turn off their televisions, and protest in the streets.
I can offer solidarity from the heart of the U.S. empire.
And I can offer a warning from someone who has given some study to what the U.S. government does abroad, as well as to the facilitating of peace and nonviolence rather than war and militarized policing.
I know that some in Peru recently celebrated its 1821 independence from Spain. In 1823 U.S. President Monroe declared Peru and all of its neighbors part of a U.S.-controlled zone. By 1835 there were U.S. Marines in Peru defending Peru, not from Europeans, but from Peruvians.
The U.S. has not always done wrong by Peru, but a general theme of anti-democratic contempt — and the racism described by Rubén Dario Apaza –has carried through right to the current moment. As we just heard from Aida Garcia Naranjo things change very slowly. The current U.S. ambassador to Peru was trained by the CIA, not by any institution with knowledge of diplomacy or democratic governance.
Rather than objecting to the unpopular and unelected rule of a leader facing huge protests by victims of injustice, of hunger, and of the violence of militarized policing, the U.S. government sends weapons, trainers, and troops — troops to conduct war rehearsals. But war with whom? Who is attacking Peru?
Unlike the United States, Peru does not generate enemies for itself around the world. Peru is party to the International Criminal Court, the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and a nuclear free zone. Peru has not occupied or even helped occupy any countries in Western Asia and has no bases imposed on other lands.
The most likely enemy for the Peruvian military would seem to be the Peruvian people.
The problem with visits from U.S. troops is that they tend not to leave. The United States has troops in almost every nation on Earth, including in over 900 foreign bases. Many of those troops first arrived for supposedly temporary and humanitarian purposes — or to supposedly fight against drugs, not against people. Have you ever invited a guest to your house who just wouldn’t leave? Imagine if they wouldn’t leave and also started blowing things up, poisoning the local water, driving drunk, raping girls, and declared that local laws didn’t apply to guests.
The problem with U.S. military training and weaponry is what can be done with it. As of last week there have been 11 coups by U.S.-trained troops in West Africa since 2008.
The problem with militarized police is that they believe they are at war, and every war requires an enemy.
When people are being arrested and killed for protesting, and when an illegitimate president is seeking more power in the name of fighting crime (even though small-scale crime is far more easily addressed by addressing poverty), and as Héctor Béjar has just told us public spaces are being closed, the very last thing that is needed is U.S. troops. And as Ricardo Soberón has just told us, U.S. trained officers are in high places in the Peruvian military.
What Peru does to resolve its political crisis should be up to Peru. Not the U.S. government. And not U.S. or Peruvian forces bearing U.S. weapons and attitudes. U.S. weapons come with U.S. trainers. Just as computer programs force updates on you, weapons companies are constantly making updates. This is part of why troops never leave. They also create institutions that take power away from more legitimate structures. Colombia is now a partner of NATO and will be expected to do what NATO says, regardless of what Colombians say. Peru should avoid that at all costs. I doubt very much the people of Peru want to go to war with China.
We recently worked with friends and allies to deliver a petition to key offices in the U.S. Congress and to support demonstrations at the embassy and consulate in the United States. The petition (which can be signed at the link in the chat) said:
“I urge the United States Congress to suspend all U.S. military cooperation with Peru and withdraw the 1,200 US military troops that entered the country last June. Stop sending arms and troops to the country, which only contributes to the increase in internal violence. The foreign military presence in the coastal zone of Peru is yet another sign that there is little respect for the civilian population, which lives in an area where the police and the army carried out extrajudicial executions, multiple human rights violations, including the use of disproportionate, lethal force, as well as imprisonment of peasants and indigenous peoples, during the protests against the government of Dina Boluarte. The government of Dina Boluarte which has emerged from the rupture of the democratic order in Peru should not continue to be strengthened and democracy should be promptly reinstated respecting the general will of the people.”
I am certain that there are empty guest rooms in Juan Guaidó’s house in Florida where other illegitimate rulers can hide.
World BEYOND War is a growing global movement that does educational and activist work. We recently hired Gabriel Aguirre to help us form chapters and affiliate with other organizations in Latin America. I hope that in the future, even if the struggle is permanent, as Rubén has said, we can work as a global community with, and learn from, the people of Peru who will have nonviolently taken control of their country and made it an example of resistance to militarism, resistance to oligarchy, and promotion of peace.