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Monday, December 4

Alfonso Barrantes, the former mayor of Lima and left wing presidential candiate, died this weekend. He was a major political figure of the 1980s. He brought the look of a cholo serrano onto the political stage. I met him in 1978 when I used to drink expresos in the same cafe as he did, on Plaza San Martin. He was a popular mayor and implemented programs, like the Glass of Milk initiative, that have become stables of welfare/grassroots efforts in the shantytowns and provinces since then. He never recovered his bearings after Alan Garcia squashed him in the 1986 municipal elections to get Jorge del Castillo elected. His other problem was that United Left's internal contradictions had predestined it for self-destruction.

The new cabinet looks like a political flashback LA Times: aside from Paniagua and Perez del Cuellar, I know Diego Garcia Sayan (Justice - human rights lawyer and recently advisor to Alfredo Toledo), Susana Villaran (Women - worked in the Glass of Milk program under Barrantes, a follower of Liberation Theologist Gustavo Gutierrez), Javier Silva Ruete (Economy and Finance - former finance minister who was villified in 1978-80 for being a puppet of the IMF).

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