A Better Path. (Letters to the Editor)

Harvard International Review, Summer 2002 | Go to article overview

A Better Path. (Letters to the Editor)


It was pleasing to find such a well informed and precise article on the interactions between US policy and Peruvian drug politics (Alex Stone, "A Wayward Path," Winter 2002). Apart from a few mistakes (Peru's illiteracy rate is far below 80 percent: it is 6 percent for male adults and 16 percent for female adults), the article accurately reflects the crimes of one of the most corrupt administrations in Peruvian political history. Moreover, it adequately discusses the extent to which US foreign policy is to blame for the rise of Vladimiro Montesinos, the de facto president of the country during 1997-2000, arriving at a lucid (and often overlooked) conclusion. US foreign policy could and should have been less ambiguous toward Peru: if anything, reduced support for Montesinos earlier in the decade could have prevented some of the disastrous consequences brought about by his increased influence and dominion over the Peruvian political arena.

Perhaps the most significant explanation for the increased and consistent drug crop planting by farmers is their political and economic isolation, lacking access to the ruling classes or to the government in general. Historically, the Peruvian jungle has been a neglected region. Scarce (if any) government funds are allocated to its regional councils and municipalities, and its inhabitants harbor a profound feeling of resentment and frustration at their being permanently underrepresented and left behind by politicians and ruling elites. Groups such as the Loreto Patriotic Front have demonstrated in opposition to population-displacing policies and consistently demanded greater attention. …

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