election : peru 1990 / 1992

Illustration of ballot box in pink and white. Box says "election"
illustration by iggdeh

by Amy Obermeyer

In the lead-up to Peru’s presidential election in the spring of 1990, sitting president Alan García was deeply unpopular. García, who was ineligible for reelection, represented Peru’s center-left, social democratic Aprista party. Like much of the region, Peru was still in the grips of the Latin American debt crisis that first hit in 1982. Rampant inflation was everywhere. García’s populist government had initially managed to stave off the disaster, but by 1988, García’s measures were no longer succeeding and by 1989, inflation was at 2000%. Furthermore, as economic conditions worsened, the brutality of the Maoist insurrectionary group Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) increased, and so too did the brutality of the state’s response. In January 1989, García’s popular approval, once as high as 90%, had fallen to 9%. Among the electorate, distrust for political parties in general was at an all-time high, and the successive failures of two centrist governments—García’s and that of his predecessor, Fernando Belaúnde Terry—from the two major centrist parties, coupled with a voter preference for centrist policies, left a marked void in Peru’s political landscape. 

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introducing the election : series

illustration by iggdeh

election : is a new series that will post weekly from election through the united states’ presidential inauguration. in it, we will be spotlighting notable past and present election scenarios from around the world. these descriptions are intended to contextualize election : united states 2020 and to unexceptionalize the state of democracy in the united states. each post will elaborate seeming irregularities and exceptionalities that can and do take place in and around democratic electoral procedures. against blind faith in the power of institutional procedure, the aim is to illustrate the opportunistic ways that ambivalences inherent in such systems are seized and exploited.

series editors : lauren k. wolfe & zach rivers

contributors to the series:

Amrita De is a 6th year PhD candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at SUNY Binghamton. She is an interdisciplinary scholar of South Asian literature and masculinity studies. Her dissertation explores the idea of fragility in literary articulations of postcolonial Indian masculinities across different registers such as virility, stoicism, and entrepreneurship. She recently published an article on Indian and American right-wing populisms in Boyhood Studies. She is also a creative writer and is presently working on her first novel, which also explores Indian masculinities.

Amy Obermeyer is a founding member of the Barricade Editorial Collective and a doctoral candidate in Comparative Literature at New York University. Her research focuses on subjectivity, gender, and race in early twentieth-century literatures of Latin America and Japan.

Lauren K. Wolfe is a translator and educator based in Brooklyn, New York. Her translations have been published by Dalkey Archive Press, MIT Press, and University of Minnesota Press. She has taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Illinois Center for Translation Studies, New York University, and is currently Second Faculty at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. She is a founding Editorial Collective member of Barricade.

Marko Velickovic lives and works in Belgrade, Serbia.

Mirta Jurilj is a freelance translator and writer specialized in the humanities and social sciences. She lives and works in Zagreb, Croatia.

Murage Macharia is a writer based in Kerugoya, Kenya. He is passionate about psychology, literature, and technology. He is interested in exploring how storytelling can be used to dismantle the colonial debris entrenched in all colonized cultures, as well as a tool for self-awareness and empowerment. He enjoys shallow debates on pretentious philosophy, listening to music, and playing the guitar.

Santiago Ospina Celis is a writer, translator, and editor from Colombia. He is currently a PhD student in the Department of Comparative Literature at New York University.

Siarhei Biareishyk is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, working in the materialist tradition of Spinoza and Marx. His writing on Belarus has also appeared in Viewpoint Magazine, Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century, and No Borders.

Sultan Doughan is a postdoctoral fellow at Boston University. An anthropologist by training, her scholarship is at the intersection of secularism, migration, and critical race and gender studies, approached through theories of citizenship, minority rights, and memory studies and located in contemporary Europe. She conducted research in the domain of civic education in Berlin within state-funded projects to combat Islamic extremism in working class and immigrant neighborhoods. These projects operate through the frame of Holocaust memory and the figure of the Jew in Germany, targeting former Middle Eastern immigrants through a racially gendered logic to be “tolerant” secular citizens.

Yana Makuwa was raised in Harare, Zimbabwe, and moved to the United States to obtain her bachelor’s degree at Cornell University. Afterwards she worked as an assistant editor at Graywolf Press, an independent publisher of contemporary fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction, and currently takes on freelance editing and bilingual proofreading projects. She attends New York University, where she is working towards a PhD in Comparative Literature.

Yarri Kamara is a policy researcher, writer, and translator based in Burkina Faso.

Zach Rivers is a PhD candidate in New York University’s Department of Comparative Literature, whose research focuses on ancient textiles, gendered labor, and inheritance. He is a founding Editorial Collective member of Barricade, and former steward for GSOC, NYU’s graduate worker union.