Wikileaks, an international organization known for publishing confidential information such as classified government documents, recently put online thousands of new documents. These include a plethora of e-mails from STRATFOR, a global intelligence consultancy, regarding Latin American governments and issues. We will discuss some of the most interesting STRATFOR statements relating to Peru and Bolivia that have been discovered so far.
Articles released by Wikileaks about Peru
Peruvian President Ollanta Humala was heavily critiqued on a number of communiqués. One correspondence accuses him of being unable to make decisions by himself and of beinginfluenced by his wife, Nadine Heredia, a supposed Marxist. These accusations are not new considering Humala has been consistently criticized by Peruvian opposition figures who consider him a radical leftist and believe his political decisions are too influenced by the First Lady. During the 2011 presidential campaign, he was often accused of being a Peruvian-version of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez,who publicly supported Humala as a candidate
Prior to his election, Humala was known to show sympathy for leftist ideologies. However, he has considerably softened his ideas.In May 2011he admitted that he had been too “radical” during the 2006 elections and that “if politicians don’t change, then they don’t help.” In fact, he has maintained pro-free trade and pro-investment postures since coming to power, which has allowed Peru to maintain promising economic growth. For example, in November 2012 the Peruvian president traveled to France, Spain and Portugal to seek financial investment from these European nations. Moreover, under Humala, Peru became a member of the Alliance of the Pacific, a group of nations (which include Mexico, Colombia and Chile), that embrace liberal economic- initiatives.
In addition, the Peruvian head of state has maintained good relations with the United States. For instance, President-elect Humala traveled to Washington in July 2011 tomeet with President Barack Obama. Moreover, the Peruvian media has speculated thatthe U.S. may assistPeru in building a new military base in the VRAE , an Andean region where narco guerrillas operate.
More problem for Humala is that the STRATFOR emails also discuss howAlexis Humala, one of the President’s brothers, posed as a special presidential envoy when he travelled to Russia in 2011 (this incident was reported by the Peruvian media). The Russian government made an offer to the President’s brother, allowing Moscow to supply Peru with military equipment in exchange for natural resources. This has brought a new scandal to Lima, given that Alexis is not a government negotiator.
Sadly, President Humala’s image has been undermined by the controversial, and sometimes violent, deeds of his family members. Another brother, Antauro, is currently in prison for orchestrating a failed military coup inAndahuaylasin January 2005. Several police officers were killed in a standoff between Antauro and his followers against government forces.
To what extent the President was aware of his brother’s Alexis’ actions in Moscow still remains unclear. In any case, the level to which Humala’s family is involved in the country’s political affairs is more worrisome than the age-old accusations of the President being a Marxist.
Articles released by Wikileaks about Bolivia
Bolivia’s President Evo Morales, left, and his Prime Minister David Choquehuanca. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
Regarding Bolivia, a STRATFOR analyst, in 2010 e-mail, described President Evo Moralesas a “fourth grade educated, narco-trafficking, murderous thug […] He is NOT the messiah and genius that everyone touts him to be.” This email came in response to the baffling declarations made by Morales during a conference where he said that consuming hormone-injected chicken causes baldness and homosexuality.
Regardless of the absurdity of the Bolivian president’s statement, the STRATFOR email is a particularly vicious characterization of the Bolivian head of state. Nevertheless, the analyst’s opinion can be used to summarize the tense relations between Morales and Washington ever since he came to power. The accusation that Morales is involved in narco-trafficking stems from events, such as when he kicked out not only the U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia, Philip Goldberg, but also the DEA, in 2008. In another polemic move, Bolivia withdrew from the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 2011. (Bolivia returned to the convention in early 2013, but with “a new reservation allowing for the traditional uses of the coca leaf”).
Meanwhile, in an August 16, 2011 email, a STRATFOR analyst questioned whether somePeruvian citizens detained in Boliviawere members of the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) as the Bolivian government claimed. Sendero is a Peruvian terrorist movement that originated in the early 1980s and has become heavily involved in drug trafficking in order to finance its operations. The aforementioned email was likely referring to the arrest of four Peruvians in early August 2011, who were accused of attempting to recruit Bolivians to join Shining Path.
In reality, the Peruvian insurgent group is particularly weak, especially afterthe capture of its last leader, known as Artemio, in February 2012. Hence, it is debatable how much of a presence Peruvian insurgents have in Bolivia; at most, Shining Path could aim to have a small cell operating there to increase ties with local drug trafficking cartels. Nevertheless, the fact remains that Bolivia is one of the major producers of cocaine in the world, and its corrupt local officials, weak security forces and unmonitored borders have allowed for international criminal entities to have a growing presence in the country. Even if Shining Path is not particularly active in Bolivia, an obvious concern is that other criminal networks, originating from Mexico, Colombia or Brazil, may successfully carry out operations in that country.
Wikileaks has made thousands of new confidential documents available that address Latin American affairs. For example, some documents show STRATFOR’s suspicions thatJoaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the leader of the dreaded Sinaloa Cartel, may be hiding in Guatemala. Nevertheless, other emails reveal facts that regional analysts and experts already knew. If anything, some emails show that assumptions and stereotypes are still alive, such as claiming that Peru’s President Humala may be a Marxist in spite of his numerous pro-capitalist initiatives. Regarding Bolivia’s Morales, his ludicrous statements (such as linking chickens with homosexuality) and his still tense relations with the U.S. as well as his posture on the growth of coca mean that critiques regarding his policies to fight drug trafficking will continue.