U.S. Foreign Policy Priorities
Democracy concerns have taken a very high profile in recent U.S. foreign policy towards Peru,
particularly in light of the 2000 electoral campaign and post electoral events. The U.S. Congress has
taken a strong interest in this case, and the U.S. Department of State has insisted on the need to restore
credibility in the electoral process and reform democratic institutions. Formally, the Department of
State s most recent Mission Performance Plan states that the overriding U.S. national interest in Peru is
to promote genuine democracy, which is central to institutionalizing the rule of law, controlling narcotics
trafficking and achieving economic prosperity.
Nonetheless, this statement also reflects the fact that democracy is not the sole priority for United States
foreign policy in Peru, and there is an inherent tension in how the various foreign policy priorities are
managed and funded. For example, the largest U.S. assistance program in Peru is the food security
program (PL 480), and the second largest program is counternarcotics. Among counternarcotics
programs in the hemisphere, Peru's is widely viewed as a success story. Continued engagement with the
Peruvian government is considered critical for this effort.
The implication of this for our strategic recommendations is that the inherent tension in the
management of foreign policy priorities means that democracy is not the single issue at stake for
U.S. foreign policy.
We recognize that a consistent and hard line U.S. government position on
democratic backsliding, for example, may affect relations with the Peruvian government on
counternarcotics. At the same time, progress on counternarcotics is difficult in an undemocratic
environment where the lack of checks on the authority of the Executive and the Armed Forces increases
the risk of government impunity. It is precisely for this reason that we believe that it is important to
focus on the domestic checks and balances to Executive abuse of authority.
Time and Resource Limitations
As USAID/Peru is developing its strategy for the next five years, strategic recommendations are intended
to focus on what is feasible in a five year time frame rather than over the longer term. Furthermore,
Peru's democracy and governance program has been funded at an average annual level of $3 million over
the last three years. For a population of 25 million, this is a modest level of funding, which could present
a potentially important constraint to the program. Both of these factors the five year time frame and the
limited budget have led us to recommend focusing on one major problem area, that of
balance of power
, rather than dispersing limited resources across other areas.
Assuming that a choice must be made, why focus on the competition problem over issues of
Although the Team believes that the two are closely related, time and resource limitations are
fundamental. The primary barriers to political participation for large numbers of disadvantaged citizens
in Peru today are practical, not formal, and they stem from long term structural and cultural problems in
society, including poverty and illiteracy as well as underlying forms of discrimination. These problems
will not be resolved in the political sphere in the next five years, although important strides toward their
longer term resolution can and are being made through other USAID programs.
Furthermore, although there have been new opportunities to undertake voter education and to expand the
political participation of women in particular, the lack of effective competition in the political system as a
whole, and the questionable legitimacy of the electoral process, serve as limitations on meaningful
political inclusion, not only of women and the socially disadvantaged but of all citizens. Hence, although
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