Privatization South American Style

By Luigi Manzetti | Go to book overview
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The judicial system remained in shambles, as did health care. Funds in education were spent on physical rather than human resources. Only a handful of tangible improvements could be seen in basic infrastructure like roads, bridges, and water supplies, often funded with foreign aid and built to maximize electoral results prior to elections.

In conclusion, from a pragmatic standpoint, Fujimori did achieve most of his initial goals. However, from a more theoretical perspective, there were substantial discrepancies between COPRI's rhetoric and the actual execution of many privatizations. Their causes rested on the lack of clear planning and priorities. The goal seemed to be divesting and let the market economy take care of economic growth. Nor there was any evidence that privatization had strengthened the state and its institutions in their fundamental tasks. Yet, as most analysts agree, strong capitalist economies do need strong institutions to facilitate business operations, on the one hand, and protect individual rights from market abuses on the other. In the case of Peru, the absence of long-term planning and institution building was, unfortunately, the direct result of Fujimori's one-man approach to problem solving. As Hunt ( 1996: 49) pointed out:

long-term growth requires a consistent development model. Consistency requires a strong state that will ensure continuity and therefore credibility. The Peruvian state as currently constituted is too weak to give assurance that it can maintain its policy line -- neoliberalism -- or any policy line. Therefore, Peru has not yet found a viable development model that gives prospect for sustained growth.

These misgivings notwithstanding, by the end of his second term Fujimori could claim victory on all fronts, while his critics, no matter what the substance of their arguments, seemed completely powerless.


Endnotes
1.
Financial Times, 29 September 1993, p. 1.
2.
As in Brazil, the Peruvian electoral law for President requires a run-off election if no candidate reaches 51 per cent of the popular vote.
3.
Financial Times, 29 September 1993, p. 1.
4.
Fujimori was regarded by many as an outsider even within the Japanese-- Peruvian community in Lima. La República, 6 January 1991.
5.
Cambio '90 started out as a movement made up by businessmen and professionals to sponsor Fujimori's plans to become a senator. His most noticeable representative was Máximo San Roman, a self-made man coming from a mestizo background who made a fortune in manufacturing small backery equipment.
6.
During World War II, the Japanese community in Peru was the object of widespread harassment. Many of its members were actually deported to the United States and their property was confiscated.

-288-

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