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Cablegate: Peru's Evangelicals: Political Strategy

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 LIMA 003415

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

G for Laura Lederer
G/TIP for Linda Brown
State for International Religious Freedom Office
DRL for KBrokenshire, CNewling, KCumberland, JSchechter
WHA/PD for Mary Dean Conners

STATE FOR
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PE
SUBJECT: Peru's Evangelicals: Political Strategy

REF: Religious Freedom Report 2004 (draft)

1. (U) This is the second in a three-part series on
Peruvian Evangelicals. It will delineate their political
strategy for the upcoming presidential and congressional
elections.

--------
Summary:
--------

2. (U) Peruvian Evangelical Christians fervently believe
that Peru needs thoroughgoing moral reform if the country is
to succeed. More immediately, they want the Peruvian
Constitution changed to guarantee the equality of all
religions before the law. Peru's Evangelicals are motivated
to practice active Christian citizen participation in
politics, following the examples of allies in Colombia and
the U.S. They are pursuing a dual track strategy, preparing
presidential campaigns, but also keeping an eye on the
possible gains in Congress that even an unsuccessful
presidential campaign could help bring about. According to
some calculations, a united Evangelical vote could create a
bloc of 5-6 Congressmen, enough to wield influence in the
next legislature. End Summary.

------------------------------
Evangelical Christians' Issues
------------------------------

3. (U) Peruvian Evangelical Christian leaders are motivated
by two broad issues. One is a conviction that in order to
succeed as a country, Peru desperately needs moral
regeneration from below. Evangelicals share many Peruvians'
disappointment with democracy, the sense that democracy has
not delivered and that impunity and corruption remain
endemic. In their view, those recruited from their own
ranks can give Peru the kind of moral regeneration it
desperately needs.

4. (U) Peru's Christian Evangelicals also want to amend
Article 50 of the Peruvian Constitution, which affords a
special place to the Catholic Church. This provision has
become the basis for a series of institutional advantages
that the Catholic Church enjoys in the form of GOP
favoritism in tax policy as well as exclusive official
representation in schools, police and the military.
Peruvian Evangelicals want a constitutional amendment that
would guarantee all faiths equality before the law. For
this reason (among many others) Peru's Evangelical
Christians deeply admire the United States. Human Rights
Officer found that the U.S. position on religious freedom
was a winner in a recent presentation to Union of Peruvian
Evangelicals (UNICEP) (reftel).

5. (U) Among contemporary Peruvian Evangelical Christians,
there is a debate as to how best to influence politics.
"Road to Life" Church leader and President of UNICEP Robert
Barriger represents those who argue that the Evangelicals
should shoot for representation in all of Peru's political
parties, converting them from the ground up. Others
maintain that only an evangelical political party that will
field candidates who espouse Christian principles can bring
needed change to Peru. At the moment, the latter position
is gaining ground, reinforced by outside allies.

--------------------------
Colombia/US Seen as Models
--------------------------

6. (U) Peru's Evangelicals see both Colombia and the U.S.
as models of Christian citizen activism, and connections
between Peruvian Evangelical Christians and similar churches
in both countries are strong, reinforced by regular visits
and strategy and lesson-sharing.

7. (U) Pastor Cesar Castellanos of Colombia's Road to
Destiny Church recently gave a "Promise Keepers"-style
sermon for 20,000 men at the National Stadium in Lima as the
invited guest of Peter Hornung's "Living Waters" Church.
(Hornung is one of two announced Evangelical candidates for
President.) Castellano made clear his own support for
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in a meeting with Poloff.
Castellano claimed that Evangelical prayers and political
support had moved Uribe from number 3 in the polls to the
Presidency during Uribe's 2002 campaign. Castellano put a
regional spin on his political observations, telling Poloff
that Latin America's Christian Evangelicals were the only
ones who could stave off the rise of the Left in the region.

8. (U) Castellanos is not the only figure providing
inspiration and even instruction for Peru's Evangelical
Christians. In November 2004, Stephen Mansfield, a
prominent Evangelical Christian lecturer and author (his
works include "The Faith of George Bush" and "The Faith of
the American Soldier," http://www.mansfieldgroup.com/)
visited Peru and, in a sermon given to "Road of Life" church
members and others, urged the Peruvian Evangelical
Christians to blend faith with pro-active politics.

--------------------------
Presidential Possibilities
--------------------------

9. (SBU) Peruvian Evangelical Christians have two
presidential candidates: Humberto Lay Sun and Peter Hornung.
Lay Sun has the backing of a political party called National
Restoration (NR). NR was founded in 2000 and is expected to
make the required number of signatures by the October 2005
deadline to register as an official political party for the
2006 elections. Lay Sun was a member of the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission and is considered by many to have
the best chance of uniting Peru's Evangelical Christians.
In addition, some supporters say -- only half jokingly --
that Lay will benefit from the "Asian advantage," an
association with the Presidency of Alberto Fujimori, who is
still regarded highly by many poor Peruvians as a leader who
could get things done.

10. (SBU) A second Evangelical pastor, Peter Hornung, has
also announced his candidacy. Hornung's campaign is less
sure. He recently ran into difficulties when press reports
surfaced that the party with which he was considering
running was founded by supporters of former President
Fujimori.

----------------------
Congressional Strategy
----------------------

11. (U) While presidential candidates inspire the most
discussion in this pre-election year, Evangelical Christians
could have a greater impact in Congress. Walter Alejos is
currently the only Evangelical member of the Peruvian
Congress. A former professor at the University of Huamanga
in Ayacucho (where he taught with SL founder Abimail
Guzman), and a former Director of the NGO World Vision in
Peru, Alejos laid out the congressional strategy for the
movement to Poloff.

12. (SBU) Alejos maintains that Peruvian Evangelicals could
become "the third or fourth force" in Peruvian politics,
based on the number of the movement's adherents. Alejos
maintains that Fujimori's use of Evangelicals as well as the
poor performance of some Evangelicals who participated in
his government depressed the movement's appeal. (Alejos
said that 17 Evangelicals entered the Congress with
Fujimori, and that all failed as Congressmen.) Since the
90s, however, the number of Evangelicals in Peru has only
grown, now reaching fifteen percent of the population,
according to Alejos. This percentage, Alejos maintained,
translates into 2.8 million votes nationwide, seven to eight
hundred thousand in Lima alone. (Note: Alejos' figures for
possible pro-Evangelical votes strike us as high, since not
all Lima residents are of voting age. Nonetheless, his
logic remains of interest. End Note.) These numbers,
combined with the Evangelicals' fund-raising and outreach
capabilities, could translate into 5-6 Congressional seats,
a bloc big enough to wield influence beyond its numbers
should the next government not/not enjoy a legislative
majority.

13. (SBU) For Alejos, the seemingly long-shot presidential
campaigns of evangelical leaders like Humberto Lay or Peter
Hornung are less quixotic than they seem. If a presidential
candidate motivates Peruvian Evangelicals to vote according
to their religious beliefs, it can only benefit the
Evangelicals' congressional chances.

--------
Comment:
--------

14. (SBU) Peruvian Evangelical Christians appear to be
"getting their act together" politically, inspired by
examples and friends from Colombia and the U.S. Even if
their present plans do not pan out, the Evangelicals' long-
term vision and determination should not be underestimated.
The last cable in this series will discuss outreach to this
emerging sector and possible points of convergence with the
USG.

Struble

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