Just four months into his administration as president of Peru, Ollanta Humala has moved from extreme leftist rhetoric mimicking the Chavez administration in Venezuela, to a centrist administration run by technocrats.
Among the heated populist rhetoric used during his campaign, President Humala promised to “Peruvanize” northern Chile. In doing so, he was picking at a scab that has failed to heal since the end of the 19th century war between Bolivia, Chile and Peru. He also stated that Peru would not be an obstacle to providing Bolivia with access to the Pacific Ocean which it lost after the same conflict. Effectively, Humala was antagonizing Chile along with Evo Morales who’s new constitution claims access to the Pacific despite internationally recognized treaties recognizing the current boundaries of Peru, Bolivia, and Chile.
Despite his heavy handed leftist campaigning, his administration has recently reinvented itself in a way that would make a chameleon proud. On December the 4th, the new president declared a state of emergency due to unrest and protests from miners. Unable to come to an agreement with the miners, he gutted his ineffective administration, and replaced politically connected favorites with mostly ex-military officials in the hope of gaining traction and breaking the gridlock created by the striking workers.
Faced the the prospect of disturbing growth in Peru, which has enjoyed the highest growth rates of all of Latin America over the past decade, Humala has initiated an apparent reorientation of his administration from progressive to pragmatic.