May 4, 2005
Michael Radu is co-chair of FPRI’s the Center on Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism, and Homeland Security. This essay is an updated version of an article that originally appeared on frontpagemagazine.com, February 9, 2005.
The recent removal from office of President Lucio Gutierrez of Ecuador — the third Ecuadorian president removed prematurely during the past eight years — underscores the growing political instability of the Andean region. With Ecuador in a state of continuing crisis, Bolivia beset by chronic anarchy, and Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo’s standing in polls hovering about ten percent, the entire region is in turmoil. The reason is cultural rather than economic: the Peruvian economy is doing fairly well, high oil prices have lifted Ecuador’s economy, and Bolivia sits on the second largest natural gas deposits in Latin America.
It appears that Latin America as a whole is going through one of its periodic political shifts, with leftist regimes in power in Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay that are more or less hostile to free markets. That has happened before — the last time during the 1970s, with catastrophic results.
What is new, however, is the radicalization of Amerindians in the Andean region of South America and their adoption of anti-modern, anti-democratic, reactionary and strikingly fascistic attitudes. This trend is increasingly powerful in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru, and if not dealt with quickly, will lead to the region’s collapsing into a political, economic, and social Stone Age — and it’s becoming a danger to everyone, including the United States.
In Bolivia, this fascistic trend is politically represented by the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), led by Evo Morales and by Felipe (a.k.a. “Mallku” — the Condor) Quispe, both Aymaras. Morales represents coca producers and was a runner- up in the country’s latest presidential election. Quispe, a convicted terrorist in the 1980s, is now a federal deputy from La Paz department and head of the Pachacuti Indigenous Movement and the Sole Sindical Confederation of Campesino Workers of Bolivia (CSUTCB). Using violence and threats, these groups managed to force the unconstitutional removal from office of (twice) democratically elected President Gonzalo Sanchez de Losada in 2003.
In Ecuador, the Pachacutik organization of Quechua speakers, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) led by Leonidas Iza, and Humberto Cholango’s Confederation of Peoples of Quechua Nationality of Ecuador (ECUARUNARI), allied with “progressive” military officers, overthrew the democratically elected president Gustavo Noboa in 2002.
In both Bolivia and Ecuador, the unconstitutional and violent removal of freely elected presidents was temporarily mitigated by the succession of politically weak but elected vice-presidents — something seen by the radical Indians as a first step to power but also, alarmingly, accepted by Washington.
In Peru, the Humala brothers — Ollanta and Antauro — in 2000 led a short-lived attempted coup against then-president Fujimori, were arrested but immediately released by the (unelected) post-Fujimori regime of Valentin Paniagua. In that country, Indian radicalism has at the forefront the Humala family’s Movimiento Político Nacionalista (Nationalist Peruvian Movement — MPN), which is better known as “etnocacerista.” The Humalas identify themselves with the pre-Inca Chanka culture of southeastern Peru, and, incongrously, with Andres Avelino Caceres (hence the “etnocacerista”), a general who continued Peru’s war with Chile (1879-83) after it was lost and later became president of Peru. Caceres was not an Indian, but is a symbol of MPN’s open hatred for Chile. But the closer one gets to the Bolivian border around Lake Tititcaca, the more indications there are that anti-white racism and anti-democratic lawlessness in the name of “Aymara rights” — including the lynching of the elected mayor in the bordertown of Ilave — are being promoted by Morales, Quispe, et al.
On December 30, 2004, a group of some 200 armed individuals, all members of the MPN-Etnocacerista and led by then- Peruvian Army major Antauro Humala Tasso, captured the police post in the regional capital of Andahuaylas, in the Peruvian Andes. After a few days of futile attempts to provoke a mass rebellion and unsuccessful negotiations with the government — the group demanded the resignation of elected President Alejandro Toledo — and after murdering four policemen, Humala surrendered, or was captured, and his followers did the same.
The history of the Humalas’ “movement” is largely typical of the entire regional phenomenon. The ideologue of the movement is Isaac Humala Nunez, head of the family and father of Antauro and Ollanta, the latter of whom is seen by his followers as the spiritual and strategic leader.
Isaac is also a self-proclaimed subversive: “a patriot has to be,” he says. “Christ was and so are we.” His Instituto de Estudios Etnogeopol¡ticos (IEE) is the brain trust of the MPN, which he founded in 1989. Among the MPN’s beliefs, according to Isaac Humala, is that “The human species had four races, of which one is practically separate, the white one that dominates the world, the yellow has two powers, China and Japan, and the Black, although without the same weight as the others, at least dominates its own continent. On the other hand, ours does not govern anywhere.” Like their associated Bolivian and Ecuadorian Indian movements and friends, the Humalas make no secret of their racist, anti-white, anti-European, and especially, anti-American sentiments. That, by itself, is interesting, considering their own family background.
Isaac Humala himself is a well-educated lawyer; although he does speak Quechua (but not Aymara). He was born in Ayacuycho, infamous as the cradle of the Maoist Shining Path; his children are named, folklorically, Ulysses, Ivoska, Ollanta (43), Antauro (42), Pachacutec, Kusiqoyllor, and Ima Sumac. Both Antauro and Ollanta were educated at the elite — and certainly non-indigenous — Franco-Peruano High School, which Antauro’s own children attend. Daughter Kusiqoyllor may have a Quechua name, but she is, or was until recently, a trained biologist in France, and is married, like all her sisters, to a European. As for the boys, Ollanta earned an M.A. from the Catholic University in Lima; Antauro, the “wild one,” had one of his blonde romantic interests wear a dark wig, in order to conceal his “impure” preferences. Both brothers went to the military academy and became officers: Antauro retired in 1988 as a major, Ollanta served as a lieutenant colonel and military attache in Paris and Seoul until his forced retirement at the end of 2005.
The MPN is centered on a group of a few hundred former army soldiers — the “reservists,” mostly of Indian or “mestizo” (mixed race) background (called “cholos” in Peru) from the southern provinces. The reservists keep their uniforms (contrary to law), organize parades, and generally play a paramilitary, highly ideological role similar to the early Nazi Stormtroopers or Mussolini’s Black Shirts.
For those who remember the origins and nature of fascism and Nazism, it is significant that their common characteristics — racism, a romantic and false, belief in pseudo-historical myths, hatred for democracy and capitalism — and those of all these Indian movements may appear strikingly similar. Quispe, the Ecuadoran CONAIE and Pachakuti groups, as well as MPN all share the ultimate goal of reconstituting the pre-Colombian Inca Empire, Tihuantisuyo, from Ecuador to Northern Chile, including all of Bolivia and Peru and parts of Argentina. When Quispe declares that the main objective of his Movimiento Ind¡gena Pachacuti is to establish a “Republic of Qullasuyo” — the name of the easternmost of the Inca Empire’s four provinces — he may as well join the Humalas’ dream of reestablishing the whole empire. Indeed, as Ollanta himself has stated, “We contemplate a Tahuantinsuyo Motherland, which will comprise Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, the north of Chile and the Argentine northwest.”
How that would function and how it would be accomplished is also clear, again according to Quispe: the “Republic of Qollasuyo” would be one in which “there will be neither poor nor rich, in which one would use barter and take care of the environment… . To reach this change much blood and sacrifice is recquired, but we will not reach it through Parliament. Talking in Parliament we will solve nothing or even strengthen the system.” Which would also “solve” the problem that many present inhabitants of that area are what Isaac Humala calls “settlers” of an alien race — i.e., people of European origin. Antauro Humala’s solution, not diferent from Quispe’s, is their removal, with the former advocating mass executions of the “white” ruling elites of Peru, for “treason” to his ideals. President Alejandro Toledo, Peru’s first “cholo” president and self-defined “stubborn and rebellious Indian,” is seen as just another traitor. As to who should rule, Isaac Humala nominates an “intelligencia, well paid and dedicated to thinking in the welfare of our future generations” — in other words, people like him.
Just as fascism, or at least Mussolini, had its roots in socialism, so do the Indio-fascists of today find common interests and language with Latin America’s radical Left. The same combination of Indian racism, advocacy of coca production, and hostility to democracy and free markets found in Evo Morales’ MAS is thus found among the Ecuadoran groups and indeed in the MPN.
The Indio-fascists are closely linked to each other, with essential outside help. Thus, in Peru, a certain indigenist group, “Llapanchik,” is related to Evo Morales’ MAS, and, one may add, has at least one supporter, Michel Martinez, in the Peruvian Congress. The Humalas acclaimed Venezuelan president Hugo Ch vez when he visited Peru, and traveled repeatedly to Caracas, where they also met Evo Morales. Antauro declares himself “Friend of the Ecuadoran indigenous of CONAIE, but also of Evo Morales and Felipe Quispe in Bolivia_. I consider myself brother of the ideas of Hugo Chavez_[and] admirer of the “nationalist struggle of the Cuban Revolution.”
That Chavez supports Evo Morales, politically and financially, is known; it is a mystery who covers the cost of MPN’s Ollanta, with a bi-monthly circulation of 60,000 — although MPN’s (and MAS, Quispe, etc.) dedication to coca growing as an “Indian right” may well provide an explanation.
The “solution” envisaged by all these Indio-fascist groups is well defined by the Humalas’ idea of a “Constitutent Assembly” to include all the “living forces” of Peru: the “reservists,” cocaleros, SUTEP [the radical Marxist teachers’ union, and the usual recruiting ground of Peruvian terrorists], retired persons, associations of unemployed, rural associations, workers’ trade unions.
All of these Indian groups, when not being invited to Caracas for various “anti-imperialist” and “Bolivarian” shows, all expenses paid, meet in Havana (all expenses paid as well) for such “summits” as the 2004 3rd Hemispheric Encounter of Struggle against the Free Trade Area of the Americas proposal (Area de Libre Comercio de las Americas (ALCA), attended by Morales, Iza, Quispe, etc.
The main and most immediate problem the Indio-fascists raise is that they are both the result and cause of very weak governments in Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador. No matter how much some people, especially in Washington and Brussels, may want to believe that democracy is the solution to the main problems facing these countries, the reality on the ground is far less clear or encouraging. For the Humalas to try their Andahuaylas adventures was not irrational — after all, their 2000 military rebellion not only went unpunished, some, like Ollanta Humala, also became local heroes. CONAIE and Pacahakuti in Ecuador, like MAS and Quispe in Bolivia, got away with what amounted to coups against democratically elected presidents. In Peru’s case, with President Alejandro Toledo’s popularity ranging from 10.3 percent in December 2004 to 8.4 percent in January 2005, the legitimacy of democracy is obviously limited.
More importantly, the political elites behave in such a way as to discourage the shrinking minority who take democracy seriously, and provides ammunition to the Indio-fascists. Thus, in what elsewhere may seem as a demonstration of either lunacy or anti-democratic beliefs, Javier Valle Riestra, a lawyer and former prime minister, suggests amnesty for the etnocaceristas, under the pretext that the Constitution provides the right to rebellion. More disturbingly still, 34 percent of the respondents of an opinion poll in Lima-Peru’s most educated and informed population-agree with Humala’s rebellion; 56 percent think that the MPN seeks “social demands,” 20 percent believe that Antauro should not even be tried, 40 percent agree with Valle Riestra, and some 10 percent do not think the rebellion threatens democracy in Peru.
As for Ecuador, where President Gutierrez, initially an ally of CONAIE & Co., has minimal support in Congress. In Bolivia, where President Mena is perhaps even weaker, he is acceding to most of the Indio-fascist demands, including renationalizations of water and gas/oil companies, all indications are that the Indio-fascists are making rapid ground and are close to either power or creating national chaos. The political elites, whether traditional or democratic, have largely given up, disappeared or adopted the enemies’ positions. The military, historically the main instrument of correcting politicians’ irresponsibility (and replacing it with their own), are largely discredited, infiltrated, or disavowed by Washington.
Furthermore, like all forms of fascism, the Andean version is aggressive. Both the Bolivian and Peruvian versions are openly revisionist regarding their respective borders with Chile and may, if they come into power, provoke a war. They are also virulently anti-American and, in both Bolivia and Ecuador, have pushed, in the former case successfully, for the confiscation of foreign companies’ properties. In addition, Evo Morales and the Humalas are dedicated supporters of, and benefit from, the open and unlimited cultivation of coca.
Despite all this, as demonstrated in Ecuador in 2002 and in Bolivia in 2003, Washington is either preoccupied or paralyzed by an unrealistic belief in some kind of inevitability of democracy everywhere — whether in Peru, Bolivia, or Iraq. The consequences are as dangerous whatever the cause.
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