This thesis examines the 1977-80 period in Peru when the left-wing parties became involved in unity discussions and the formation of alliances in order to contest the two elections which constituted the transfer of power to civilian government after twelve years of military rule. The Morales Bermzez regime was unable to resolve Peru’s political and economic crisis. Confident in a right-wing victory, it decided to call elections in order to avoid social upheaval and preserve intact the traditional structures of domination. However, the regime’s economic austerity programme, formulated by the International Monetary Fund and implemented with great severity, unleashed a movement of popular mobilisation (there were six general strikes in these years). The masses desperately needed organisation and leadership and the political left – historically weak, divided and beset with sectarian rivalries – attempted to provide it. In order to become a national political force, the left must unite. Unfortunately, the stalinist, trotskyist, maoist and guerrilla groups which constituted ‘the left’ held different conceptions of the nature of political change in Peru, the forms of struggle to be adopted and the kind of socialist society to be created. The thesis places these differences within the context of the historical evolution of the left, its relations with the international socialist movement and, most importantly, its dealings with the mass movement. It describes the development of the two strategies of reformist and revolutionary socialism, and uses these as reference points for an examination of the 1977-80 unity movement, analysing the left’s successes and failures, its internal relationships and its position vis-à-vis national political events. The 1977-80 period can be viewed as the launching-pad for the growing political importance of the Peruvian left during the 1980s and, because of the issues addressed during the unity process, is also of general relevance to the history of socialism.
Last updated: 15.2.2005