Cablegate: Ollanta Humala One Year Later


DE RUEHPE #2009/01 1591633
R 081633Z JUN 07




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. LIMA 2000

B. LIMA 1841
C. LIMA 86 (06)


1. (SBU) Ollanta Humala, the Chavez protege who nearly
became Peru's President in June 2006, told Poloffs that he
remains politically active, meeting with members of his
Peruvian Nationalist Party (PNP) congressional bloc as well
as unionists and regional presidents. Humala took pains to
distinguish his own commitment to peaceful, democratic
politics from the more extreme views espoused by his father,
Isaac Humala, and his brother, Antauro Humala. His
programmatic ideas -- call for a constitutional assembly,
opposition to the FTA and assertion that the formal political
system does not represent the interests of the majority --
remain the same as one year ago. Humala is still angry about
losing his U.S. visa and continued to insist that it be
restored. While Humala's weak organization-building skills
seemed manifest in his office's palpable quiet, he remains a
polished spokesperson for the dispossessed who cannot be
ruled out as the possible consensus candidate of a fragmented
left looking to in the favor of many impoverished Peruvians
in 2011. End Summary.

2. (U) Ollanta Humala, the Chavez protege who came within
four points of winning Peru's presidency one year ago, proved
highly approachable and friendly in a meeting with Poloffs on

3. (U) In the conversation, the first between Humala and the
U.S. Embassy in over a year, Humala took pains to distinguish
himself from both his jailed brother, Antauro, and his
father, Isaac (Ref B). Ollanta emphasized that he was a
Peruvian nationalist first and foremost and strongly
disagreed with the Ethnocacerista focus on race. He was
equally emphatic about his commitment to peaceful change
through democratic means, and his firm opposition to violence
whatever its political justification. Humala emphasized that
Peru had learned through its experience with the Shining Path
(Sendero Luminoso) terrorist insurgency that violence was not
the answer.

4. (U) Humala's political platform remains the same as last
year. Among the points he emphasized:

-- The established political system represented the interests
of a small minority, and the great majority of Peruvians --
over half of whom live in poverty and 30% in extreme poverty
-- were unrepresented by it. He wished to represent the
interests of those people.

-- Peru needs a constituent assembly to rearrange the rules
of the game that do not serve the interests of the majority
and to increase the role of the state in distributing
economic benefits more fairly.

-- Humala opposes the PTPA because it would favor U.S.
companies over those of Peru. He complimented the work on
labor and environmental issues of PTPA opponents and skeptics
in the U.S. Congress, underscoring the irony that Peru's own
Congress had failed to do what the U.S. Congress was now
seeking to do before approving the agreement.

5. (SBU) Humala said that he remains politically active. He
meets regularly with the PNP bloc in Congress and he said
that his headquarters constantly receives visitors. He said
he had just met with representatives of a mineworkers union
as well as the Regional President of Puno, Hernan Fuentes.
(Note: Fuentes ran as the candidate of Peru's Avanza Pais
(Advance the Country) Party, which selected another Ulises
Humala, brother of Antauro and Ollanta, as its candidate.
Press accounts recently reported that the Government of
Venezuela has opened an office of President Hugo Chavez'
Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean --
ALBA -- in Puno. Ref A, further details Septel.) He also
expressed regret at the counterproductive interventions of
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during the 2006 campaign,
clearly indicating that this had not gone according to his

The Visa Still Smarts

6. (SBU) Humala's overall friendly tone changed notably when
the question of his U.S. visa surfaced. When Poloff
mentioned Humala's November 2006 trip to Cuba for a gall
bladder operation, the former candidate bristled and said, "I
would have gone to the U.S., but you took away my visa."
Humala appeared convinced that the revocation had been
politically motivated and unpersuaded by the explanation that
it had long preceded the 2006 presidential campaign. He
strenuously denied any involvement in the attempted New Years
2005 uprising led by his brother, Antauro, which left four
policemen dead. He insisted that the U.S. admit what he
alleged was its error in cancelling his visa and, if we were
concerned at all by the justice of the issue, to return it to
him as before. When Poloffs told him he was welcome to
reapply, Humala waved away this suggestion.

--------------------------------------------- ---
Comment: An Able Spokesman, But Not an Organizer
--------------------------------------------- ---

7. (U) Despite the visa contretemps, Humala proved friendly
and approachable, and seemed to genuinely appreciate our
visit. He presented his issues effectively, showing a
certain refinement in the youthful, "country boy" style that
served him so effectively in last year's presidential
campaign (Ref C). Clearly, practice has given him more
polish. What Humala apparently lacks is a taste for
organization-building. His headquarters was almost deserted,
exceedingly quiet even for a party center between campaigns.
His operating style also seems to reflect the presumption
that important people should come to him rather than the
reverse. When frustrated, as with the question of the visa,
Humala reverts to an authoritarian, military manner,
attempting to give orders to solve problems that are beyond
his power. Humala's organizational weakness has proven to be
his Achilles heel. Nonetheless, he remains a talented
spokesperson with high name recognition and could again
emerge as the consensus candidate of Peru's fragmented left
and its many dispossessed in a future election.

© Scoop Media

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