Interview: Néstor Popolizio

What is the status of Peru’s OECD accession?

NÉSTOR POPOLIZIO: While Peru is prepared to join the OECD, that does not depend solely on our technical advances or capabilities – member states must unanimously extend an invitation to our country to join the OECD. We expect that the meetings scheduled in the second half of 2019 will provide greater clarity on the issue.

Peru has made substantial progress in implementing its OECD Country Programme with respect to education, employment, environment, taxes, health, investment, public governance, regulation, regional development, trade and statistics. Peru has also implemented 41 of the OECD’s legal instruments, while adherences to another 79 are currently under evaluation. We have also made progress on issues related to the fiscal system, anti-bribery and public governance.

How has the Venezuelan crisis affected bilateral and multilateral relations in Latin America?

POPOLIZIO: The political, social, economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela caused by the administration of President Nicolás Maduro has had a considerable effect on regional stability and processes of regional integration. It has also caused a migratory exodus that is one of a kind in the recent history of the region.

We believe that this exceptional situation requires the urgent cooperation of the whole international community. As of February 2019 more than 3.5m Venezuelans had left their country, more than 750,000 of which now live in Peru. Given its unprecedented scale, this has been a considerable challenge, but we as a country have sought to integrate these migrants in a positive and productive way. This has been achieved thanks to the solidarity of the Peruvian people.

However, the impact of this massive migration has been significant in the domestic labour market, as well as in our health and education systems. It is clear that our institutional capabilities have been overwhelmed, so we have intensified our efforts to obtain cooperation from abroad, not only bilaterally, but also from the multilateral institutions of the international community.

In this context, Peru has led the formation of the Lima Group, a regional forum for political cooperation meant to support the Venezuelan people in restoring democracy in their country. The defence of democracy and the promotion and protection of human rights are basic principles of our foreign policy. On that basis, and since the group’s inception in 2017, its members have maintained an unalterable defence and support for the Venezuelan National Assembly, which we regard as the only democratic institution left in the country.

Describe the structural priorities and regional goals of the Forum for the Progress of South America (Foro para el Progreso de América del Sur , PROSUR)?

POPOLIZIO: As is generally known, the Union of South American Nations (La Unión de Naciones Suramericanas, UNASUR) as an organisation has failed to fulfil its objectives in the region, and the last three years have been marked by the institution’s paralysis. The process of South American integration formerly led by UNASUR is now in its dissolution phase, and Peru, together with other parties to the organisation, has initiated the process of denouncing UNASUR’s constitutive treaty.

In early 2019 the region’s countries began a process in Santiago, Chile to create a new space for regional integration. We hope that PROSUR will be flexible, democratic, inclusive and free of bureaucracy.

From Peru’s perspective, in order for the regional integration initiative to succeed, inclusivity must be a necessary and unavoidable condition. We also believe that any initiative of this kind should have a simple and flexible structure that allows for fluid decision-making. What is really important is to concentrate on actions – such as infrastructure, education and environmentally sustainable energy – that will generate consensus among PROSUR’s members, contribute directly to our development and improve our citizens’ quality of life.