and helped prepare them for public office. However, several challenges remain: how to link these efforts
to advance the social and economic needs of poor women, and most importantly, how to empower poor
women's organizations and leaders themselves.
The Catholic Church and Democracy
The Catholic Church has not only been a fundamental influence on the human rights movement, but also
it has traditionally been and remains the institution with far greatest credibility among all sectors of
Peruvian society. An estimated 89% of the population is Catholic, and Church organizations are the
primary beneficiaries of individual donations and volunteer work. For decades, Church and lay Catholic
organizations have performed fundamental social promotion activities and have provided assistance to
the neediest sectors of society. Public opinion polls consistently rank Church leaders among the most
respected and influential figures in society, and the Church is also seen as the institution most capable of
administering resources for community development.
The relationship between the Fujimori administration and the Church leadership has been difficult.
Church leaders openly favored Fujimori's rival, Mario Vargas Llosa in 1990, and Fujimori's stances on
birth control and family planning have been in direct confrontation with Church teachings. Furthermore,
Church leaders have severely criticized the Ministry of Health for forced sterilization of poor women, an
effort in which the women's movement coincided, and for the distribution of condoms in schools and
health posts. On the other hand, conservative sectors within the Church, whose most visible head is the
current Archbishop of Lima, have identified with some Fujimori government policies, including the
On the whole, the Church has kept a somewhat lower profile on national political issues in the 1990s than
it had in the previous two decades. This is due in part to growing internal divisions between progressive
and conservative factions and to changes in the ecclesiastic hierarchy. In the current electoral process, for
example, Church leaders have made contradictory statements. While the Archbishop of Lima recently
joined government leaders in launching strong verbal attacks on international human rights groups and
elections observers, the head of the Bishops' Conference issued a very critical pronouncement on the
development of the electoral process that shared many of the observations of these groups.
Business, Labor, and Democracy
In a strong democracy, the organized interests of workers and employers are represented in the public
arena, and policy decisions are negotiated among all relevant actors. In an authoritarian context, strong
and representative business and labor associations can be key advocates for the restoration of rule of law
and for processes of democratic transition.
In Peru, the labor movement played a central role in the organization of protests against the military
dictatorship in the late 1970s, contributing directly to the military's decision to retreat from power and
return the country to civilian rule. During the 1980s, the General Confederation of Peruvian Workers
(CGTP) was considered one of the most powerful institutions in the country, while national federations
of schoolteachers, mineworkers, construction workers, bank employees, and public sector employees all
had influence in the national political arena as well as in policy debates related to their specific sectors.
Debate, Encuestra annual de poder, 1999 and Martin Tanaka and Patricia Zarate, Valores democraticos y
participacion ciudadana en el Per , Lima: IEP, 2000.
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