By Sandra Zuniga Guzman
On July 28, 2011, as the Peruvian public celebrated the nation’s annual Independence Day, the nation also welcomed President-elect Ollanta Humala Tasso during his inauguration. Humala had been the candidate for the Gana Peru electoral bloc and was voted into office on June 5, 2011 with 51.4 percent of the popular vote. Peru’s presidential and congressional electoral results demonstrated a strong continuing trend throughout South America in favor of nationalistic and left-leaning candidates. This represents a sharp turn from public opinion under Alan García’s outgoing Aprista administration. President-elect Humala was sworn into office alongside the new Peruvian Congress and the Andean Parliament. Analysts, now to the contrary, currently question whether Humala is moving the government too abruptly from the center-left to the right, as evidenced by his recent cabinet appointments.
Humala’s appointments, up to now, have stressed a commitment to diversity in Peru’s political arena; for example, he selected singer Susana Baca as Minister of Culture. She is now the country’s first black government minister in the nation’s history.
Considered by many constituents to be Peru’s first truly left-leaning president, Humala championed himself as the Peruvian equivalent of Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Now, after several cabinet appointments, Humala indicates that he may emulate Lula’s memorable swing to the center during his years as president of Brazil. Humala recently appointed two well-known rightist economists; Luis Miguel Castilla as the Minister of Finance and Julio Velarde, who will remain president of the Central Bank. The value of Peru’s stock market and national currency are vibrant and strong, and have since hit a three-year high, perhaps indicating that foreign investors have gained confidence in Humala’s pledge to maintain Peru’s strong economic growth.
After his inauguration speech in front of the Peruvian Congress, Humala met with the member heads of state of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). The sub-regional meeting originally scheduled for July 22 was postponed in honor of the Peruvian President-elect’s inauguration. All UNASUR presidents, except for Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo, and Guyana’s Bharrat Jagdeo, attended the inauguration. Humala opened the UNASUR summit before announcing his agenda, in order to further Latin American integration Incoming Peruvian Foreign Minister Rafael Roncagliolo described both events as “an opportunity to reaffirm the Latin American and South American vocation that President Ollanta Humala has expressed very clearly and strongly.”