The news of Donald Trump’s victory as president of the United States has sparked serious debate in Peru over how the Andean nation will be affected.
The country has been betting on commercial deals with the U.S. for decades and is one of the few states in the region that has followed the neoliberal North American political and economic model without major disagreements.
The chief concerns expressed by critics of Trump in the country are over the wellbeing of Peruvian immigrants in the U.S., the free trade treaties with the country, and the possible obstacles Trump’s victory poses to the advancement of democracy and women’s rights on the global stage.
Peruvian Andean Parliament representative, Mario Zuñiga, expressed a “profound preoccupation for the situation of the more than 900 thousand Peruvians living in the U.S.” due to Trump’s proposal to expel all undocumented migrants.
Many Peruvians in the U.S. do have resident or citizen status but Trump has also threatened to cancel the citizenship of the children of immigrants born in the U.S. Another concern expressed by Zuñiga is over Trump's promise to hold immigrant remittances to build the wall separating the U.S. and Mexico. Withholding such funds would affect those Peruvians who benefit from the close to US$100 million in remittances that come from the U.S. every year.
In terms of commercial deals, the concern is over the Free Trade Agreement Peru has with the U.S. since 2006 and the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP. Trump has promised to review all signed free trade agreements and even though many Peruvians are critical of such treaties, there is concern renegotiation would leave Peru in a worse situation. However, for the president of the Peruvian Institute of Economics, Roberto Abusada, renegotiation of the FTA with Peru would take years and Trump might not have the necessary time in office to do so.
Trump has also pledged not to sign the TPP and Peru is also one of the countries included in the deal. Not following through with the TPP would be a positive move for a significant number of Peruvians who have held protests against the agreement for over a year. However, Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has publicly expressed the belief that rejection of the TPP by Trump was a campaign strategy. Abusada agrees with Kuczynski. “It’s one thing when you’re on the campaign trail and another when you’re riding the horse,” he said.
Another concern expressed by many Peruvians is the message the election of Trump sends to democracies around the world. For congresswoman Tania Pariona, one issue the election of Trump could negatively affect is the consolidation of women’s rights.
“The U.S. is already a country that has shown resistance to signing international conventions that favor the rights of women, but with his words Trump has sent the message of not even considering women’s rights as human rights,” she said.
Peru is one of the few countries in the region that has not seen the rise of a significant political force opposed to the advancement of U.S. interests in the region. However, for Congresswoman Marisa Glave, with the U.S. “having elected a person capable of ... those statements against immigrants, his manner of relationships to women, the position of confronting countries like Cuba, is something that should call our attention toward the series limits of representative democracy. We should seek alternatives.”
Historian and political analyst Antonio Zapata also believes the election of Trump will increase critical stances on U.S. policies and the country’s political system. “Usually governments such as the one of Obama, the first African (American) president and what would have been the first woman president in Clinton, tend to temper the contradictions between the U.S. and Latin America. But the profile of Trump, I think, is going to increase a wave of anti-imperialism (across the continent).”