#180 The Peruvian Revolution in Retrospect: Twenty Years Later
By Andrew I. Rudman
From the Introduction
The year 1968 witnessed a number of important events in the world arena, one of which, the Prague Spring, has already been discussed and commemorated through a reexamination at the Wilson Center. For those interested in Latin America, another "Spring" -- the Lima Spring--brought in a new regime that created great hope and expectations for significant change in Peru. The Peruvian Revolution effected a remarkably peaceful transfer of authority from Francisco Belaúnde Terry's democratic, yet unpopular, govennnent to the military government of Velasco. '!he military regime enjoyed a good deal of both external and internal support, as it proposed a number of refonnist measures previously developed by the military at the Center for Higher Military Studies (CAEM) in Lima with additional influence from Peruvian intellectuals and developmentalists from the United Nation's Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA) . In short, this unusual military regime--at least for Latin America -- generated a new spirit of reform and ideas and appeared to be heading in the right direction.
Twenty years later, as we reevaluate the Revolution, Peru is burdened with widespread poverty, stagnation, and political instability. Although not necessarily a consequence of the policies of the military regime, the present predicament offers a somewhat sobering reflection, given the enthusiasm and high hopes of 1968. The Wilson Center housed two fellows who are experts on Peru and who came to The Wilson Center to explore the Revolution and its consequences. Francois Bourricaud, from the University of Paris, wrote one of the definitive interpretations of the Peruvian Revolution, Power and Society in Contemporary Peru, and spent his time at the Wilson Center reflecting on his work in light of the outcomes. Enrique Mayer, from the University of Illinois-Urbana, is a Peruvian anthropologist currently doing an assessment of the agrarian reform of the Velasco years, one of the more significant developments of the military government. In this discussion Bourricaud and Mayer were joined by two other specialists on Peru. Francisco Sagasti, an economist at the World Bank, served as an advisor under the Velasco administration, which attempted to follow a new pattern of development, including a planned program for better adaptation in the transfer of technology. Billie-Jean Isbell, a former Wilson Center fellow and an anthropologist from Cornell University, studies the more recent development of the Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path, guerrilla movement.
Though not in existence during the military regime, it is interesting to note the possible relationship between this new revolutionary movement and that of 1968. The following pages offer a summary of the reflections of these four guest speakers.
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