Throughout his long and distinguished career, Víctor Villanueva has published over a dozen highly significant books on Peruvian militarism and politics. In this seminal volume, based on extensive interviews with participants, heretofore untouched documents, and his own personal involvement in many events, Villanueva offers a detailed analysis of the relationship between Peru’s two most important corporate entities—the military and the APRA—as well as a fascinating psychoanalysis of APRA’s founder, Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre.
The volume is so rich in data and provocative new interpretations (such as the secret pact between Oscar Benavides and Haya to assassinate President Luis Sánchez Cerro) that is is impossible to do it justice in a short review, but several main theses stand out. Villanueva argues that APRA was sharply divided between the bourgeois leadership of Haya and others who wished to achieve power through the liberal, electoral process, and the authentically proletarian mass of campesinos and workers who possessed a strong anarcho-syndicalist background and a predilection for violent revolution.
Haya feared this mass and therefore never supported its calls for a popular revolution, preferring instead to get others (principally high-ranking military officers who themselves despised civilians) to take power for him. Thus, concludes Villanueva, the struggle between APRA and the oligarchy and APRA and the military was not an ideological struggle (as Haya was ideologically akin to both), but rather a power struggle. This goes far toward explaining the failures of the Trujillo uprising of 1932, the abortive revolts of Gustavo Jiménez in 1933 and Antonio Rodríguez in 1939, and numerous other events in the period.
Enhanced by the reproduction of nine key documents, this volume makes a major contribution to our knowledge of Peruvian politics and I eagerly await the promised second volume on this same theme.