Country Listing

Peru Table of Contents


Protector of Democracy

Peru's military rulers did not try to destroy civilian political organizations and even encouraged the development of the largely Marxist left, as an alternative to APRA. So when circumstances forced civilian political parties in 1977 and 1978 to consider the political future of Peru, they were ready to take responsibility through Constituent Assembly elections and the drafting of a new constitution. The military, exhausted by the most extended period in its history in control of the government, were thus more than willing to assume a new role as protectors and defenders of their country's first mass democracy. Among other results, this period of the military in power had the effect of raising substantially the threshold of any future military intervention in Peru.

The FF.AA., humbled but not humiliated as in some Latin American countries, certainly did not expect Peru's democracy to be challenged by insurgency. Nor did it expect to be forced to protect this democracy by carrying out military operations involving large-scale loss of life among civilians, insurgents, and military/police forces alike, as well as substantial human rights violations. True, formal or procedural democracy in Peru was sustained, with the military's assistance, for a longer period since 1980 than at any time since the first decade of the twentieth century. However, the gradual increase in provinces and departments declared to be under states of emergency and thus subject to military rather than civilian control substantially eroded the formal democratic reality. The 1987-91 economic crisis, in addition to its adverse effects on the population, also substantially reduced government funding of the armed forces, making the FF.AA.'s commitment to protect civilian democratic government increasingly uncertain.

Data as of September 1992