Ouster of Presidents in Sri Lanka & now Peru – Will Sri Lanka ever learn lessons!
Ben Norton’s Geopolitical Economy Report reveals some interesting facts. The US-backed coup on 7 December 2022 against President Pedro Castillo (immediately after the ousting of Sri Lanka’s President via a well-funded protest) The Peruvian President has been imprisoned for 18 months without trial & due process. Massive protests are a hallmark in both Sri Lanka & Peru. The US-back coup regime went on to kill 50 protestors & the country has been in chaos since December 2022 but the US Govt is strongly supporting the coup. The ouster was primarily to prevent the elected President from negating neoliberal policies & his ouster was instigated by CIA veteran US ambassador to Peru Lisa Kenna. Peru became the 2nd victim of geopolitical resource grab after Bolivia became victim in 2019 ousting Eva Morales to grab its lithium.
Peru is home to mineral resources as well as gas reserves which are reasons that lure US & multinationals to Peru. It was no surprise that US would lead actions to oust any national leader.
Thus on 6 December 2022, a day before the coup the US ambassador had met with the Peruvian Defense Minister to advise that the military disobey orders of the Peruvian President. Did the US envoy to Sri Lanka do the same? We know she was at the forefront of the aragalaya, meeting every important person who were part & parcel of the aragalaya.
After overthrowing the elected Peruvian President, the US envoy met the Peruvian Minister of Mining & Energy to discuss ‘investments” on 18 Jan 2023. Not surprisingly, the Peruvian Energy Minister issued a statement of how Peru was going to move forward with US assistance.
Did a similar scenario take place in Sri Lanka?
Like the US ambassador to Sri Lanka who is regularly visiting not only government ministers, the opposition, public officials, private sector, civil society & even individuals who have a hold on society, US envoy to Peru was also meeting top officials including unelected President Dina Boluarte & her ministers. It is interesting to know whether the US envoy to Sri Lanka proposed to place the current President or did she have another person in mind to take over! If so, how or why did US plans change?
The puzzling aspect of the Sri Lankan Presidents overthrow was that inspite of embracing US lobbies going so far as to accept proposals from US-backed entities & appointing pro-US individuals to key roles, why would the US consider an unceremonious removal of the sitting Sri Lankan President, going so far as to even chase him out of the country. He even stopped the Chinese vaccine & brought in Pfizer vaccines which even India had refused.
The Peruvian elected leader was eventually arrested & imprisoned. The Peruvian people are protesting for the release of their president while Sri Lanka’s citizens are baffled why the sitting President resigned, fled the nation without even addressing the nation.
Sri Lanka is home to natural resources in addition to being strategically placed geographically
Peru’s natural reserves include copper, gold, zinc, silver, lead, iron & natural gas. Both nations are thus susceptible to more than it can chew & has lacked leaders who have been able to understand geopolitics & distinguish the dynamics & political will matched with political cunning needed to balance the covert & overt onslaughts.
Peru relies heavily on its mining sector. The world’s largest transnational mining corporations have invested in Peru (BHP, Rio Tinto & Glencore) Canada, Brazil, Switzerland, Britain, US, Japan & Australia are also involved in mining in Peru. Most of the local mining companies in Peru are owned by foreign corporates no different to the manner foreigners are using locals as fronts in Sri Lanka. The name of the game is the competition to grab natural resources. Sadly, Sri Lanka’s leaders & even the educated do not understand the importance of the assets that we have and all are more than ready to hand over these treasures to foreigners & strike a deal where they function as the local front. Sadly, this lack of sincerity & integrity is one of the primary reasons that Sri Lanka has no leaders & have very few trustworthy academics/intellectuals or policy advisors.
Peru is the world’s 2nd largest copper producer attracting renewable energy players. When Goldman Sachs in 2022 declared that copper was the new oil it gave a clue as to what Peru was in store for.
Europe even began importing LNG from Peru in 2022 without Russia. Peru’s LNG exports are overseen by foreign companies like Shell.
However, when President Castillo declared “we want our natural resources to directly benefit the people” it spelt his fate.
He condemned foreign companies for “pillaging” Peru & proposed to renegotiate contracts to ensure 70% of all proceeds from mining went to the State to fund social programs.
“we want our natural resources to directly benefit the people”
“we are rescuing the resources of the country for all Peruvians”.
This was not what foreign governments or multinationals had in mind & wanted to hear. They determined he had to go.
Another noteworthy feature was the ‘agrarian reform’ declared by the Peruvian President echoing the fertilizer fiasco by Sri Lanka’s president. We have to wonder whether these themes had been intentionally introduced with the outcome in mind. They look good themes at the surface level but the real purpose is often hidden by those introducing the theme.
Sri Lanka’s ousted President did not make similar utterances like the Peruvian President, but his manifesto moved along the same lines. Unlike Castillo, the Sri Lankan President did not periodically appeal to the people & share with them his vision. Where did the President of Sri Lanka go wrong?
The similarities in Peru & Sri Lanka was the right-wing opposition being hellbent on destabilizing & removing Presidents of both nations. Corruption in the judiciary was also a factor shared by both nations. As we can see part of the destabilizing process was to violate & disobey law & order rendering the police & armed forces helpless.
Ousting Peru’s President meant return to neoliberal economic model drafted by the Washington Consensus giving priority to foreign corporates – is this not what has taken place in Sri Lanka as well. Can the party that promoted Sri Lanka’s President to power be happy to continue what they promised not to do?
Like Sri Lanka’s President, the Peruvian President came to power on the vote of rural communities, the only difference is that while the protests in Sri Lanka were organized & supported by the “educated, professional groups & business community” Peru’s protests have come demanding the release of the arrested former President, demands to hold new elections & replace the constitution that was formed by US-backed former dictator Alberto Fujimori.
In Sri Lanka, even members of the aragalay are slowly beginning to understand that many of them had been “used” & their ego prevents them from admitting so & there is little point in saying “we told you so” -the damage has been done. Many of the supporters in the opposition were part & parcel o f that ouster & they are now vying for key places in the local government elections. This spells dangers as they have all been compromised to foreign agenda & have been used to destabilize Sri Lanka.
Shenali D Waduge