Greetings from Lima. I arrived to the sticky humid air of early Autumn in the city this morning.
We’ve been getting many requests for updates on the “happenings” in Perú. As such, here is a blog update on the happenings as we see them.
Undoubtedly you have heard the story about the frog in boiling water. The slower the temperature rises, the more the frog has lured into a sense that everything is normal—unfortunately, this false sense of security leads to the frog’s demise.
Perú is in a strange political space. Outside of a couple of focal areas in the country’s southern portion, the protests that paralyzed the country in early 2023 have stopped. The demonstrations that shocked the international community and nearly shut down the country’s economy have quelled. Many Peruvians are just tired of the frustrations of the roadblocks and supply chain disruptions.
What does this mean for the average Peruvian? Well, since there is no such thing as an average Peruvian – it means something different for everyone. However, one thing seems clear – politics, as usual, will reign. The social unrest that led to mass protests with the mandate for early elections and constitutional reform seems to have disappeared. The current administrator of President Dina Boluarte appears to be headed toward a full term – with elections not happening until 2026.
With such a polarizing political system, President Boluarte will likely have little to no beneficial impact over the next three years. The proverbial tea leaf readers of Peruvian politics anticipate little to no action on the part of the current administration; and, unfortunately, this means all of the challenges that impacted the country over the pandemic and the protracted recovery of the economy due to the political and social unrest will weigh heavily on the backs of underserved Peruvians – an estimated 60+% of the population!
This political stasis means the crippling inflation and escalating social disparity seems likely to continue . . . if not escalate. Whatever lens one chooses to look at the situation, one thing is clear: life for the underserved, undereducated, marginalized citizens of Perú – the temperature is rising and getting dangerous. The frog is boiling and does not even know it, or it is fully aware of its fate – but has no other option than to simmer in the boiling waters of its current situation.
Look, I am not implying the people of Perú are pre-destined for continued political and social strife. I certainly hope not. I am, however, saying that the situation – political distrust, social discontent, economic polarization – is becoming normalized . . . and this normalization will not be to the betterment of people living in the experience of economic poverty of social exclusion.
So, what’s next? That is hard to say. Prices for basic foodstuffs and daily staples continue to rise. Wages remain stagnant. The enormous percentage of the Peruvian workforce locked into informal employment is not abating. The water is slowly boiling.
All of this brings me to a solution. Let’s figure out a way to get the frog out of the boiling pot, and if that’s not possible, let’s find a way to turn down the heat. In practical terms, for HBI, this means working to fully prepare the families, youth, and young adults we work with to have the skills they need to navigate the complex world around them. It means continuing in our work to create models that can be used in various contexts to help people gain access to the futures they deserve. And it means continually focusing on the current and pressing, as well as the future and uncertain. For us, it means staying the course.