Opinion: Ollanta Humala of Peru --Hugo Chavez’s Secret Candidate

A boy runs in front of electoral propaganda of Peru's presidential candidate Ollanta Humala, of the Gana Peru party, in Lima, Peru, Monday, May 30, 2011. Humala will face Keiko Fujimori, daughter of former Peru's President Alberto Fujimori in a presidential runoff June 5. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

A boy runs in front of electoral propaganda of Peru's presidential candidate Ollanta Humala, of the Gana Peru party, in Lima, Peru, Monday, May 30, 2011. Humala will face Keiko Fujimori, daughter of former Peru's President Alberto Fujimori in a presidential runoff June 5. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)  (AP2011)

After failing to propel candidate Ollanta Humala to the presidency in 2006 with Venezuelan cash and robust – public support from a confident Hugo Chávez – Chávez agreed to prepare more stealthily for 2011. 

The first step was recommending that Humala not travel again to Venezuela

Instead, the strategy was to attempt to hoodwink the electorate by pushing Humala towards Brazil’s PT (Workers Party) and the larger than life Luis Ignacio “Lula” da Silva – Brazil’s former president.

The person that Chávez recommended was Valter Pomar, the national Vice-President of the Workers Party and an active member of the Sao Paulo Forum (FSP). The FSP is an organization of far-left extremists (including numerous members of the FARC and other Latin American terrorists) that was founded in 1990 in Sao Paulo, Brazil by Lula and Fidel Castro after the fall of the Soviet Union. 

Castro realized that the day for armed insurrection was coming to a close, and that they would instead have to infiltrate civil society and political parties with radical communist ideology and use the vote to take over governments. 

Currently 11 countries in the region are governed by FSP members – Peru would make the 12th. At this year’s meeting in Managua, Nicaragua, the Sao Paulo Forum officially endorsed Ollanta Humala for the presidency of Peru.

Valter Pomar is accompanied in Peru by Luis Favre (right-hand man to the famous João Santana who managed Lula’s election campaigns). Their job is to polish candidate Humala’s image, trying to make the case that he now supports the more moderate path of Lula’s Brazil – and to distance him from Hugo Chávez. 

This has included dressing the candidate in suit and tie, rather than the revolutionary attire of angry red and army fatigues. Humala has also filled his campaign rhetoric with his “love of Peru,” and has sought the approval of the clergy.

Despite the political makeover, candidate Humala would naturally still need campaign cash from outside the country. It must also come without the fingerprints of Hugo Chávez. Thus, in 2008 and 2009, Chávez began sending letters of invitation to mayors and governors in the rural areas of Peru to visit Caracas – a network of Bolivarian Mayors. 

Of those that accepted, Chávez and his advisers were able to evaluate which ones fit the bill to return to Peru with suitcases of campaign cash – naturally for the Humala campaign.

One of those reported to have accepted the offer is a far-left congressman from Humala's party. The congressman has traveled several times to Caracas to meet with Hugo Chávez or members of his administration, and has reportedly returned with large sums of money. 

According to sources, the money has been passed through front companies and individual business owners in order to fund the campaigns of Ollanta Humala and members of his Gana Peru party.

This congressman is also reported to have advised Chávez officials as to which mayors and officials to invite to Caracas to become partners in his “ALBA House” projects, which offer free trips to Venezuela for medical treatments for their constituents. Most of these mayors were in towns that are located near the border with Colombia – area controlled by the FARC rebels.

Throughout his 2011 campaign, in which he is now in a virtual tie with Keiko Fujimori, Ollanta Humala has vehemently denied receiving campaign funds from Hugo Chávez. Nevertheless, an investigation concluded in 2009 by Peru’s intelligence directorate DIGIMIN leaked to the national paper El Comerica showed the extent of the penetration of Chávez’s financing and political influence in the country. 

This report outlines a fourfold Venezuelan infiltration into Peru since 2006. The first is through the Bolivarian Continental Movement (MCB), a front organization for the FARC whose membership in Peru includes members of the MRTA, a Peruvian terrorist organization. The second is the Bolivarian Congress of the Nations (CBN), seen as the political wing of the terrorist MCB. MCB president Fernando Bossi traveled several times to Peru over the last years, and allegedly met with members of Humala’s Gana Peru party.

The third is the ALBA Houses, formed by the network of Bolivarian Mayors (15 in total) which are mentioned above. The final mechanism is the propaganda arm, run by TeleSur – the ALBA governments official television outlet whose president is the Venezuelan Minister of Propaganda, Andres Izarra. This infiltration has been sophisticated – and involved millions of dollars.

The source also reported that Chávez advisers told Humala not to attempt to stay in power beyond his five-year mandate, but to allow his wife, Nadine Heredia, to be the candidate for 2016 “like Cristina.” This would mirror the approach taken by the Kirchners in Argentina, by Colom in Guatemala and reportedly by Zelaya in Honduras. 

Heredia caused controversy earlier in the campaign of her husband after a Wikileaks document reported that she had been on the payroll of Hugo Chávez for $4000 a month for working as a “social communicator” for a Venezuelan owned publication in Peru.

None of this story is new, nor should it surprise those of us who follow closely the politics of the region. Drug money from the FARC and Chávez’s petro-dollars have been surging through the region like a tsunami, causing chaos, corruption and in governability. Peru has seen witnessed enough misery to last for eternity. 

The violence of the 1980s must never be repeated. Peruvians must reject any attempts to plunge their nation into the chaos that has caused such misery in Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador and again Honduras. The alternative may be less than attractive, but as in any other country, a savvy electorate must choose between the lesser of two evils.

Joel D. Hirst is an International Affairs Fellow in Residence at the Council on Foreign Relations. You can reach him at jhirst@cfr.org, www.joelhirst.com and www.twitter.com/joelhirst.