Religious parties seek profit in Peruvian legislative elections

Jose Carlos Mariategi, Peru (AP) — On the banks of the Amazon River, in a village without electricity and drinking water, Andrea Rodrigo makes Yuka flour for sale by her family on a market along the Brazilian-Colombian border in Peru. I am.

A 21-year-old Peruvian woman and seven of her neighbors recently rowed a vast river for about 30 minutes to two indigenous communities, where they posted a poster for the political party Peruvian Popular Front.

Known as Frepap is the political division of the Messianic Religious Group, called the Israelites of the New Universal Agreement, which blends the Christian and Andean cultures of the Old Testament. Proponents say that their leader, Jonas Atauksi Molina, is the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, and the Amazon is the promised land or “evil-free land,” adjacent to Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Bolivia. I believe that I am leading you to live faithfully in a remote forest.

With widespread aversion to traditional politicians and highly fragmented voters, Frepap emerged as a potential favorite in Sunday’s legislative election, where Peruvians also vote for the president. Observers say the amazing growth as a political force is related to the conversions it has taken root in, remote communities and poor areas, and the malaise of endless corruption scandals between the founding parties. I will.

Since 1985, all former Peruvian presidents have been accused of corruption, some have been imprisoned or arrested in mansions, and one has claimed his life before police caught him. Despite being charged, one is currently running for president and the other is seeking a seat in parliament. In the last 12 years, 57 former governors and 2,002 former mayors have been prosecuted or fugitives. An official audit in 2019 found that corruption consumes $ 17 million a day in Peru, enough to feed the country’s poor.

“I want more Frepap lawmakers to tell people not to steal,” Rodrigo said, adjusting his hair cover. Hanging on the wall of her hut was a picture of a blue fish. This is a symbol of the party created in 1989 by the late shoemaker Ezekiel Atauksi Gamonal, the founder of the religious movement and the father of the current leader.

In a special election in January 2020 called after President Martin Vizcara disbanded parliament, Freppap won 15 out of 130 seats, making it the third largest block in the country’s subdivided parliament. Surprised the Prophet.

Since then, Freppap has maintained the image of being “separated from the scandal … and lacking an attitude that reflects religious fanaticism or radical conservatism,” said Carlos Laes, an anthropologist who studied the party.

Polls suggest that even 10% of Sunday’s legislative votes cannot be won by a single party. Almost one-third of voters are undecided.

Frepap candidates fight for agricultural development, oppose corruption, and appeal to voters with a promise to protect the rights of the poor. They are stubborn religious conservatives and oppose abortion and same-sex marriage.

Recently, Mirka Copa, a teacher in a town near the village of Rodrigo, was one of three Frepap candidates who crossed the Amazon in a message to voters: she was one of them.

“I walked in the mud and lived without water, electricity, or the internet,” Copa told his supporters.

“Frepap will never come and leave,” she added to the applause and chanting. “We live here.”

For over 30 years, the Israeli community has emerged in the Amazon when loyal people migrated from the Andes or the desert areas along the Pacific Ocean, following the founder’s call to live in the rainforest. Many of the believers live in Mariscal Lamon Castile, a forested area wider than Belgium, divided by the Amazon River near Colombia and Brazil.

According to experts, the first to join the Israelites in the New Universal Agreement were poor Andean immigrants, sometimes ill or orphans, with no contact with the city.

Juan Ossio, a professor of anthropology at the Catholic University of the Pope in Peru, who wrote a book about Israelis, said:

Opponents of Frepap have stated that their members are united but unable to invade, expressing concern about the rise of the Messianic Group on the political arena.

“They are very diligent, very united, but very closed,” said Julio Tuesta, mayor of the popular Action Party in San Jose de Cochikinas, a village on the banks of the Amazon. “What makes me suspicious is that they are a mixture of religion and politics. What happens when they have more power?”

But Andrea’s father, Pablo Rodrigo, said the group’s political interests won the respect of the people.

In the village of Jose Carlos Mariategi, he and his neighbors grow rice, lettuce, coriander, tomatoes, cucumbers, pineapples, papayas and yuka. A few months ago, he bought a generator and a computer to draft a community agreement.

“God says that if you work, you will be full of bread, but if you are lazy, you will be poor,” said Pablo Rodrigo.

It’s a humble yet prestigious life, he added. “We don’t drink, we don’t smoke, we live in peace.”


The Associated Press’s religious coverage is supported by Lilly Endowment through The Conversation US. AP is solely responsible for this content.

Posted on