Pedro Pablo Kuczynski of the Peruvians for Change party was elected president on June 9 by the narrowest election margin in Peru’s history. Kuczynski, popularly known by his initials PPK, was sworn into office on July 28. (For more on Peru’s elections, see the essay on pp. 145–58.) Below are excerpts from his inauguration speech:
I must thank everyone. Those who voted for me in the first round, and those who supported my candidacy in the second round. But I must also thank those who did not vote for us. And all those who are represented in this Parliament, a symbol of democracy. I want to assure everyone of my gratitude and my commitment to seeing this country reach the goal of peace and unity for all Peruvians.
It is my duty to assure that during the bicentennial of our independence, which will happen exactly five years from now, we can fulfill the dreams of the founders of our republic. Yes to peace, yes to unity. No to confrontation, no to division.
And what is that dream that became the promise of our republic? Liberty and independence from foreign power in order to create a prosperous country under the rule of law. Equality, equity, and fraternity for all Peruvians. Access to opportunity; growth—not just economic, but human—through a magnificent education; health care that is responsive to the needs of the people, including access to both preventative and comprehensive care, to assure the health of the individual and society; timely and predictable justice; as well as conditions of security to achieve the longed-for peace in our streets and in our homes.
In less than two-hundred years, Peru transformed itself and reached goals unthinkable a century ago, such as drastically reducing illiteracy and eradicating contagious diseases, thanks to vaccination. These advances are undeniable; but we all know more is needed—much more. …
I want a social revolution for my country. I long for a Peru that, in five [End Page 182] years, will be a modern country, more just, more equitable, and more caring.
What does it mean to be a modern country? It means that the inequality between the poorest and the richest is resolved by raising the incomes of the poor. …
To be a modern country means to be a country that is honest and not corrupt. … To be a modern country means to be a country without discrimination. … To be a modern country means to have equality of opportunity for both sexes. …
In 2021, the year of the bicentennial, our country will be respected worldwide as a democracy that respects human rights, especially the rights of minorities, and which fulfills its duties to its citizens.
On May 20, Ennahda party president Rachid Ghannouchi addressed delegates at the opening ceremony of the tenth party conference in Tunis, outlining the party’s decision to separate affairs of religion from those of the state. (For more on Ennahda’s historic shift, see the essay on pp. 99–109.) Excerpts from the speech appear below:
We, in Ennahdha, are serious and sincere in our desire to learn from our shortcomings before and after the revolution. We admit them and we humbly address them through reform … and are not afraid to admit our mistakes.
We are a party that never stopped evolving from the seventies to this day: from an ideological movement engaged in the struggle for identity (when identity was under threat) to a comprehensive protest movement against an authoritarian regime, to a national democratic party devoted to reform, based on a national reference drawing from the values of Islam, committed to the articles of the Constitution and the spirit of our age, thus consolidating the clear and definitive line between Muslim democrats and extremist and violent trends that falsely attribute themselves to Islam.
The specialization and distinction between the political and other social action are not a sudden decision or a capitulation to temporary pressures, but rather the culmination of a historical evolution in which the political field and the social, cultural and religious field were distinct in practice in our movement.
We are keen to keep religion far from political struggles, and we call for the complete neutrality of mosques, away from political disputes and partisan instrumentalisation, so that they play a role of unification rather than division. …
We are proud that the Tunisian experience, which has won international acclaim, has proven that the solution to conflict is consensus-building and seeking the foundation for co-existence. We have demonstrated [End Page 183] that democracy is possible in the Arab world, and that democracy is the solution to corruption, bribery, despotism, chaos and terrorism, and that investing in democracy is better and more effective than supporting regressive dictatorships.
August 15 marked the inaugural award ceremony of the Darnal Award for Social Justice in Kathmandu. The annual award honors the late social-justice activist Suvash Darnal, a former Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at NED who advanced the rights of Dalits and other marginalized communities in Nepal. Rem Bahadur Bishwokarma of the Jagaran Media Center, which cosponsored the award with the Sarita Pariyar Trust Fund, delivered opening remarks, excerpted below:
Through this award, we have begun the process of identifying and honoring the inspiring achievements of activists working to secure the rights of the minority and marginalized communities all around the world. This award isn’t simply to recognize the achievements of one individual, but it is to honor the talents and possibilities inherent in the entire Dalit community of Nepal.
We have achieved democracy and a new constitution in Nepal. From the outside, it appears as if everything has changed. But, nothing has changed for the Dalit community, and for other disadvantaged communities. The Dalit community in Nepal hasn’t yet had the opportunity to experience social justice. In Nepal, social justice has been experienced and practiced only by a certain group of a particular caste, class and region. We continue our struggle, even in this transformed political landscape, to bring to the Dalit and marginalized communities the rights guaranteed under democracy. …
We hope that this campaign for social justice will be accepted by the state, and by the society. We hope that we will be successful in our campaign. An inclusive and prosperous democracy founded on equity, liberty and cordiality will be established. We hope that we will all cooperate to help each other establish justice and to create a state that is civilized and devoid of any remnants of discrimination. We shall all speak up for each other, we shall each work for everybody else, and we shall unite to build a prosperous society founded on the ideals of social justice.
Award recipient Raksha Ram Chamar shared his vision of opportunity and justice for dalits in his acceptance remarks, excerpted below:
The work [Suvash Darnal] accomplished, at a young age, to fight the inequality, discrimination, untouchability and other social ills prevalent in Nepal is a continued source of inspiration for all activists. [End Page 184]
There are many obstacles before the Dalit movement in Nepal. We cannot even begin to imagine an equitable society and social justice as long as there continues to exist discrimination within the Dalit community, the absence of co-existence between different groups, and the total disregard shown by the state towards dalits and women. …
The end goal of the Dalit movement is the creation of a society where every individual can live with dignity and self-respect. … I have also envisioned assisting Dalit youth in moving towards legal studies in order to establish social justice and equity. … I shall dedicate my life to knocking on court doors to fight against caste-based discrimination, untouchability, non-inclusion and inequity. Because I believe that only legal means can institutionalize such social changes and make them sustainable.
On June 30, Rodrigo Duterte delivered his inaugural address at the presidential palace in Manila, pledging to root out drug-related crime and corruption following his decisive victory in the May 9 presidential elections. (For more about these elections, see “The Vote in the Philippines” on pp. 125–44.) Excerpts appear below:
Erosion of faith and trust in government—that is the real problem that confronts us. Resulting therefrom, I see the erosion of the people’s trust in our country’s leaders; the erosion of faith in our judicial system; the erosion of confidence in the capacity of our public servants to make the people’s lives better, safer and healthier.
Indeed, ours is a problem that dampens the human spirit. But all is not lost.
I know that there are those who do not approve of my methods of fighting criminality, the sale and use of illegal drugs and corruption. They say that my methods are unorthodox and verge on the illegal. In response let me say this:
I have seen how corruption bled the government of funds, which were allocated for use in uplifting the poor from the mire that they are in.
I have seen how illegal drugs destroyed individuals and ruined family relationships.
I have seen how criminality, by means all foul, snatched from the innocent and the unsuspecting years and years of accumulated savings. Years of toil and then, suddenly, they are back to where they started.
Look at this from that perspective and tell me that I am wrong.
In this fight, I ask Congress and the Commission on Human Rights and all others who are similarly situated to allow us a level of governance that is consistent with our mandate. The fight will be relentless and it will be sustained.
As a lawyer and a former prosecutor, I know the limits of the power and authority of the president. I know what is legal and what is not. [End Page 185]
My adherence to due process and the rule of law is uncompromising. You mind your work and I will mind mine.
As extrajudicial killings of alleged drug offenders gathered pace in the month following Duterte’s inauguration, Senator Leila de Lima spoke before the Senate on August 2 and strongly condemned the killings. Excerpts of de Lima’s speech appear below:
Yes, Mr. President, indeed, we must wage this war against drugs.
But there must be another way. …
The killings have become so common the mass media has settled for fill-in-the blank template news reports, differing only in the place, time and name of the victim. If the victim even has a name. The “What” and the “How” remain the same. News write-ups carry the standard explanation for cardboard justice. But how are we exactly to know if the killings were simply cover-ups for the involvement of members of the police in the drug trade, or just simple cases of personal vendetta?
. …Never mind the police investigation, never mind the public prosecutor, never mind the courts and judges. This is DO-IT-YOURSELF Justice at work. All you need is an acrylic marker, a cardboard, some packing tape, and of course, something to stab or shoot the victim with. And there is no filing fee.
As for the killings carried out supposedly in pursuit of police work, there is the usual explanation that the executions were done in the course of legitimate law enforcement operations. …We are aware of incidents of police rub-outs. We know about the shortcuts taken by some law enforcers in the guise of self-defense. The use of force, it appears in some cases, may not be necessary, or, if necessary, was not proportional.
We still have a system of law that processes and punishes wrongdoers. We have our Bill of Rights that accords the right to be presumed innocent. What is worrisome in this situation is that the war on drugs is becoming a convenient pretext for misguided or utterly corrupt law enforcers to kill just any one. …
The bloody drug war advocates are fomenting a hate campaign against those in the media, civil society, the religious and private sectors, and the academy. Despite this hate campaign, we have to continue opposing the murder of the innocents as well as that of the suspects. We must call for the accountability of state actors responsible for this terrifying trend in law enforcement, and the investigation of killings perpetrated by the vigilante assassins.
In the campaign against criminality, we cannot applaud criminal methods merely because we are left unaffected. Life has more value than an accusation written on a piece of cardboard, whether you are rich or “scum of the earth.”
Mr. President, needless to say, ALL LIVES MATTER. [End Page 186]