A couple of days after the presentation of the new cabinet chaired by Walter Martos before the Congress, the alternate spokesperson for the Purple Party, Gino Costa, argues that a dialogue between the Executive and Congress is urgently needed to define a legislative agenda between now and July 28, 2021.
What are your expectations of the Martos cabinet?
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We regret that we are going through a new crisis between the two powers of the State. We hope it will be the last, at least of this magnitude, and that the Martos cabinet is well received and has the backing of Congress to get to work defeating the pandemic and reactivating the economy.
The prime minister has already anticipated that these two issues are part of the four axes of the speech he will give to Congress, in addition to citizen security and job creation.
They are the most important and both have to be addressed together. One cannot be more important than the other because if we do not defeat the pandemic, the economic recovery will be mediated, and if we do not address the economic recovery, we will starve because there are millions of unemployed as a result of the quarantine. That demands from the powers of the State greater understanding and unity built from a sustained and organized dialogue over time.
Do you think that the premier is echoing the claim expressed by the benches to his predecessor?
Cateriano paid more attention to the economic recovery and that has been one of the demands of Congress: that we cannot neglect the fight against the pandemic. Martos’ message will have to take that into consideration and also the need for the economic recovery effort to pay close attention to how to help micro and small entrepreneurs and not just formal and larger companies. In addition, it must be accompanied by attention to the social problem. A second bonus has been announced, but in reality, we would have to think about bonds that help the people hardest hit by the pandemic with more continuity. The third is how to improve epidemiological surveillance that allows us, through tests, to identify who is infected and to monitor them to prevent them from infecting others.
Do you see Martos’s message more akin to what Congress wants?
It has to be, because we could not afford to have another ministerial crisis, it would be a great irresponsibility of Congress and its political forces in the face of the country and the bicentennial elections. I hope that we avoid a new political crisis and that Martos knows how to collect the concerns that Congress has expressed.
Is your profile more in line with what the situation demands?
Yes, he has been in the cabinet for several months and during the pandemic, as Minister of Defense, he has had a very leading role. Martos is perfectly aware of health strategies and what needs to be done and corrected so that they produce better results than we are having. His professional experience and his work in the cabinet help to be optimistic that we are going to have good results, that is what the country expects and that is why we must support him, because if the cabinet does well, it will do well for all of us; we cannot continue in a confrontation between powers of the state.
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Is your military experience a plus or is it against you? His detractors warn of a risk of militarization, but there are also those who emphasize that, as a military man, he knows the country more closely.
Martos has the advantage of having been actively involved in these almost five months of fighting the pandemic on that front, like Dr. Pilar Mazzetti, and today defeating the pandemic is a priority. That experience is very valuable for the person in charge of the cabinet to have. I hope that his premiership does not translate into an excessive presence of the military in politics; He is like a retired military man at the head of the cabinet, but we must be vigilant.
Should the Prime Minister prioritize work coordinated with the private sector? That did not happen with the Zeballos cabinet.
Better articulation is required with the private sector, but also with social organizations, unions, society as a whole. The fight against the pandemic and economic recovery is a fight that cannot be won by the government alone, not even with the help of regional and municipal authorities; we can only earn it by working together. The leadership and articulation effort required of the Executive is very important to involve everyone, and the tool to articulate the greatest number of actors is through dialogue, which must begin with a dialogue between the Executive and the Legislature to define a parliamentary agenda and agree on what we can do together, define what we are not together on and how to address our coincidences and differences to do the least possible damage to the country. This dialogue should be facilitated by the technical secretary of the National Agreement, Max Hernández, as requested.
Do you propose a bilateral dialogue with Parliament, parallel to the Peru Pact, proposed by the president?
I believe that the most urgent dialogue at this time is between the Executive and Congress, without excluding other forms and other actors. (…) That means that the premier, the Board of Directors and the spokespersons of the benches can meet regularly and begin to discuss a parliamentary agenda between now and the end of this term on July 28 of next year; We have to order the parliamentary work and that the initiatives of the Congress converge, as far as possible, with the efforts made by the Executive Power and not rather collide.
Can this be done with a Congress that has benches that continue to promote populist measures such as the withdrawal of 100% of the funds from the ONP and the AFPs?
Precisely because there is a misunderstanding on many issues, you have to sit down and talk. That dialogue has not existed and that translates into initiatives of Congress that are rejected by the Executive, which are observed, then Congress insists, they are approved and a very bad climate is generated, not only in the Executive, but in the affected sectors; that leads to nothing and eventually leads us to the Constitutional Court and we continue to face each other. We must try to reduce conflictive issues and work around what brings us closer, not to avoid conflict, but to reduce it.
Do you see will in some benches that, in the pre-electoral year, play their own party with a view to the elections?
The fact that we have elections in April of next year makes understanding between the powers more difficult, but, on the other hand, we have the bicentennial and we do not want to get worse than we already are; We want to arrive with the pandemic under control, with an economy in an advanced recovery process and with an exemplary electoral process that no one questions; To achieve that we have to sit down and talk despite the fact that we have many differences.
Do you consider it an error by President Vizcarra not to have promoted his own bench in this new Congress that would allow greater articulation with the Executive?
Yes, clearly that is contributing to the tremendous instability in relations between the Executive and the Legislature. I understand that the president has maintained that he did not do so so that they would not believe that he had his own political agenda that would cloud the electoral process and the months that remained of his mandate, but, in practical terms, it has greatly affected the relationship between the two powers of the State. I hope that we can face this limitation with a policy of dialogue that helps to give stability to a relationship that is now very uncertain and generates many problems for the country.
The Plenary of Congress approved giving participation to the National Office of Electoral Processes (ONPE) in the organization of the internal elections of the parties despite the fact that that entity has indicated that it is not able to carry out these processes through delegates. Won’t the rule hamper the process?
It is not a perfect law. We would have preferred that Congress accept the proposal of the electoral bodies in the sense that the parties select their candidates through internal elections organized by the ONPE and with one militant one vote. It is not a perfect formula, but it is an important advance to have involved the electoral system in the internal elections. There were many parties that wanted the leaders to directly elect the delegates. We have also agreed that a longer period be given for the registration of new political organizations and that candidates who until now were not incorporated into a party be allowed to do so until September 30.
What will happen to the second vote of the law that prevents those convicted of a malicious crime from running? Will the votes reach?
Congress has to ratify this reform in a second vote. It was voted by eight of the nine benches, but two of them, Unión por el Perú and Podemos, have backed down and do not want to ratify it. The six benches that insist on ratification number 90 members of Congress and we need 87 votes. What must be ensured is that a plenary session is convened in which those 90 congressmen are present because, if not, the reform will fall; it would be a terrible sign.
“We must continue the educational reform”
The Martos cabinet could receive confidence, but two interpellations are still pending. Bad signal…
It is not enough to give the cabinet the investiture. Hopefully Congress will also take into account the need to put the country ahead and not political, partisan or personal interests. It is necessary to give continuity to the management in Education and Economy; Other ministerial changes after the cabinet vote of confidence would be highly inconvenient.
Are there groups openly opposed to the university reform and what the National Superintendency of Higher University Education (Sunedu) represents?
We will see it in the interpellation to the Minister of Education, Martín Benavides. It will be a good opportunity to find out if, indeed, there are banks that want to stop the university reform and push back and end Sunedu, because the curious thing is that Benavides is being challenged, not because of his work as minister of Education, but because of your work as superintendent of that entity, that’s unusual. The interpellation is intended to question the work of a minister as such, not his previous jobs in the public or private sector, and this is what is happening with Benavides. Furthermore, he is already being investigated by the Education Commission for the same facts; that is also unpublished.
So is it clear to you that there is this anti-reform sentiment in this Parliament?
In a Congress where the Executive not only does not have a majority but also has no representation, it is very easy to pass censorship. If there is a majority of banks that want to sabotage Sunedu and, eventually, reverse the university reform, we will see it now. Hopefully that does not happen because it is not what the country or the students want, who view the work that the institution has been doing with great sympathy.
– Gino Costa was Minister of the Interior and his first parliamentary experience was in 2016 with Peruanos por el Kambio. He was reelected last March by the Purple Party.
– He is an alternate spokesperson for that group as well as a member of the Constitution, Justice and Economy commissions.
– Costa said that, with a view to the 2021 elections, Congress has pending to expand the electoral window since the private contributions that allowed the parties to access radio and TV have been eliminated.