Defend people and attack the virus. The Peruvian strategy for the COVID-19 crisis, which combines extremely harsh social distancing measures with other more or more radical aid and assistance to the population, especially the most disadvantaged, gives confidence to the country and earns global praise.
On March 15, Peru was the first country in Latin America to enact a general and mandatory quarantine and to close all its borders when there were barely 71 confirmed cases and no deaths. Then it added night curfews and now it will only allow men to go shopping on some days and women on others.
The confinement was accompanied at the same time by financial aid for the most disadvantaged, such as a subsidy for the poorest families and for the self-employed, another subsidy for companies to pay wages, freeze credit debts and withdraw private pension funds. .
President Martín Vizcarra’s policies to combat the pandemic have broken schemes with their clear objective of supporting the public against any other consideration, but without abandoning the macroeconomic balance or sacrificing the fight against the pandemic.
At the moment, it seems that the Peruvian plan is succeeding, with a relatively low and controlled number of cases and deaths, planning that is ahead of the disease and a population that supports and applies for the most part draconian containment measures despite to the immense economic damage it causes to families.
The “Peruvian road” has also not neglected plans for economic revival by the time the storm passes, with initiatives that commit unprecedented “bold” public spending of 12% of gross domestic product (GDP) and that have unleashed praise from both local analysts and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
FAST AND PRECISE
“Vizcarra has shown that in crisis he responds well. In placid moments he may have deficiencies, but not in crisis. And he is well advised, with a good team such as the Minister of Economy (María Antonieta Alva). From the beginning he was firm, both with the quarantine as with economic measures, and much faster than for example the EU (European Union) when taking them, “political analyst Francisco Belaunde told Efe.
That firmness was appreciated from the outset by Peruvians, who have also accepted with great satisfaction the social and economic aspect of their measures, which are in fact the ones that most distance Peru from the rest of the region.
“There is the originality of Peru before COVID-19. There are many things like the bonus for the poor and independent workers, destined from day one to mitigate the impact between the vulnerable and the informal. And also the release of funds from pensions, which is something important from a political point of view, “Adriana Urrutia, also a political analyst, told Efe.
THE COMPANIES ON THEIR SITE
Urrutia thus referred to the Executive Decree that allows workers to withdraw up to 2,000 soles (about $ 600) from private pension funds (AFPs), a measure that until recently was anathema and seen with visceral rejection by the economic powers and financial and now have taken without question.
“The Government with this step has spared no effort to say that it is the companies that are subordinate to the State, and not the other way around. It also applied to banks with measures to freeze interests, which has forced everyone to continue to a State that gives the line in a country that was always liberal to the letter and where companies asserted their weight, “stressed the political scientist.
In this sense, Urrutia pointed out that in this crisis Peru has proposed a model “more social and state, with the public in the center”, which nevertheless still maintains balance with the private sector, “which negotiates and accepts.”
Precisely, another distinction of Peruvian policies is being the position of the private sector, which for the most part has accepted and collaborated in the application of government measures, including banks and AFPs.
“The set of economic actors, at least the formal ones, have prioritized health, and this commitment to health and compliance with confinement is something that is linked to this model to the Peruvian one,” the analyst reasoned.
POPULISM DOESN’T PAY
Another assessment in which experts agree is that in order to address these policies, technical and scientific interests have prevailed over political ones, and have revealed the existence of capable officials and structures of the Peruvian State that have worked “focused”.
In fact, Vizcarra did not hesitate to replace the Minister of Health in the midst of the crisis to replace a public health expert and created a technical council to analyze the State’s response to the crisis “politically neutral and full of experts ”
“In Peru, the minimum conditions of democratization that bet on technicalism and not populism, make the State work and the measures that guarantee the lives of Peruvians and their success. In Peru, technocrats persisted in the State, which allows implementing measures of this type. type and face innovations “, concluded Urrutia.