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Posted on on March 27th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Friday, March 26, 2010, the UN University hosted at the UN Headquarters Professor Alejandro Toledo who tried to practice what he teaches, during the years 2001 – 2006 when as President of Peru for a full term.

The advertised topic of the event that was part of the UNU Current Affairs Series – was:


The topic is clearly a very up-to-date issue as it is being presented at the UN by leaders of the ALBA group and Professor Toledo does not see exactly eye to eye with them. Our website has taken the position that it is in the interest of the US to develop a closer rapport with the Latin Rio Group and with ALBA. As such the ideas of a previous Peruvian President, an indigenous American, and this is an extremely attractive proposition, someone who has learned facts of life not just as an academic, and can look back indeed at a quite successful presidency, even harboring the intent for a second term in office, he is clearly someone worthwhile to have over as a guest speaker at the UNU – really the only remaining brain trust or open think tank at the UN.

I posted on nearly exactly to the day – two years ago, the article:

Former Presidents Cesar Gaviria (Columbia) and Alexandro Toledo (Peru) With Former UNDESA USG Ocampo Conclude, At a Meeting of the Latin American Business Association at Columbia Business School, That Latin America, With Markets Of Produce In China, India, and LA, Could Themselves Become A Market Equal To The US, Provided Their Mestizo/Indio Poor Get The Chance To Become Consumers. Was posted  March 30th, 2008…

further postings can be found on…

I will first reintroduce here former President Toledo and provide new content, but please look up also the first article. It is extremely interesting to see how Professor Toledo refuses President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, an ALBA leader, left credentials – as this throws light on the incident at the UN, part of yesterday’s event, which I chose best to let you read from the attached reporting by Matthew Lee from Inner City Press.

But before doing what I just said, let me get to say something about the title of the meeting. It is not just the title of a lecture, rather it comes from the title of a meeting that was held in Estoril, Portugal, November 30, 2009, that established a “SOCIAL AGENDA FOR DEMOCRACY IN LATIN AMERICA FOR THE NEXT 20 YEARS.” This lead to “Public and Private Policy Recommendations” and a call for Leadership Beyond Politics and the establishment of a Global Center for Development and Democracy with offices in San Isidro, Lima, Peru; Washington DC: and Madrid, Spain with internet and TV outlets: and

The organization has an impressive Board of Directors and an International Advisory Council that though at first look seems heavy on Peruvian former officials, but includes names like Pedro Pablo Kuczynski Goddard and Francis Fukuyama, Shimon Peres, Jacques Chirac, Javier Perez de Cuellar, Muhammad Yunus, Felipe Gonzalez Marquez, Enrique Iglesias, Rodrigo Rato, Nicolas Ardito Barletta, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Vicente Fox, Lionel Jospin, and many others. Their statements in the Executive Summary could be subject for another posting.

In effect, the Washington office, in the presence of three ex- Heads of State or Government, was inaugurated last night:

Ex presidentes inauguraron oficina internacional del Centro Global para el Desarrollo y la Democracia en Washington DC

Ex presidentes inauguraron oficina internacional del Centro Global para el Desarrollo y la Democracia en Washington DC

25 Marzo 2010

Anoche se inauguro con la asistencia de los ex presidentes de Perú, Alejandro Toledo, de México, Vicente Fox, y de España, José María Aznar.

The Address of the Washington office:

505 9th Street N.W, Suite 1000, Washington, D.C. 20004

Teléfono: +1-202-776-7801


This clearly shows a high level of interest in the UNU meeting of today, Friday.

Dr. ALEXANDRO TOLEDO was democratically elected President of Peru from July 2001-July 2006. He was elected by narrowly defeating former President Alan Garcia. It was Toledo’s second presidential race in just 13 months. A year earlier he ran against incumbent Alberto K. Fujimori. Toledo dropped out of the runoff election amid widespread allegations that the election was rigged in Fujimori’s favor. Months after being reelected, Fujimori fled to his native Japan and resigned via fax after the broadcast of Fujimori’s chief spy, Vladimiro Montesinos, evidently bribing an opposition congressman to switch parties.

Toledo was born in a small and remote village in the Peruvian Andes, 12,000 feet above sea level. He is one of sixteen brothers and sisters from a family of extreme poverty. His father was a bricklayer and his mother sold fish at markets. At the age of six, he worked as a street shoe-shiner and simultaneously sold newspapers and lotteries to supplement the family income.

At age 16, with the guidance of members of the Peace Corps, Toledo enrolled at the University of San Francisco on a one-year scholarship. He continued his education, obtaining a partial soccer scholarship, and making up the difference by pumping gas.

Dr. Toledo started with  BAs in Economics and Business Administration from the University of San Francisco, then proceeded to Stanford for two masters degrees in economics and in Economics of Human Resouces, he earned a Ph.D. in economics with emphasis on Human Resources from Stanford, at that time he met his wife, Elaine Karp and that was a prize also.

They married in 1979. Eliane Chantal Karp Fernenbug was born in Paris, experienced life on a kibbutz in Israel, and did Master’s and Ph.D. work in anthropology at Stanford University, with a minor in Finance and “Economy of Development”.  Karp  first came to Peru in the late 1970s to study Indian (indigenous) communities while working on her Ph.D. Karp speaks seven languages: French, Spanish, English, Hebrew, Dutch, Portuguese, and Quechua, a native Peruvian language. Before her husband was elected president, she gave several campaign speeches in Quechua, which helped her husband’s election campaign. At one rally in the Andean city of Huaraz, Karp declared that the “apus” (mountain gods of Peru’s ancient Indian cultures) had spoken and that Toledo’s election would break a “curse of 500 years” of oppression. When I was in Peru – a friend who knew them both, told me – this is a case of look for the woman that stands behind the man. She gets part of the success but she is also successful on her own. Before going to Peru, at the World Bank she specialized in loans for economic aid programs for developing countries. In Peru, before becoming first lady, she worked for USAID.

Eliane Karp serves on the board of several organizations. She is the Honorary President and Founder of the Fund for Development of Indigenous Communities of Latin America and the Caribbean, and she was once the Honorary President of the National Commission on Andean, Amazon and Afro-Peruvian Communities (CONAPA) of Peru. Karp accompanied Toledo into office with ambitious plans to address social inequality and the needs of Peru’s poor. When she became Peru’s first lady, she promised to shake up the capital’s elite and avoid the socialite duties customary to presidential wives. Toledo later appointed her honorary head of a commission to address multicultural issues.

She published an extensive list of books, papers and articles. During the 2008-2009 academic year, Dr. Karp-Toledo conducted an investigation on the successful struggle of native peoples in three Andean countries to influence the destiny of their nations.
and published a book  on lessons and experiences in implementing public policies that foster the inclusion of indigenous peoples in Latin American countries. She also participates in research on social inclusion and equality in the foundation created by her husband, the Global Center for Development and Democracy I expanded on this paragraph as Mrs. Karp-Toledo was also present in New York at the UNU event.

Dr. Toledo was able to go from extreme poverty to the most prestigious academic centers of the world, later becoming one of the most prominent democratic leaders of Latin America. He was the first Peruvian president of indigenous descent to be democratically elected in five hundred years.

His most precious dream and work, he says  now, is that other men and women of the large socially excluded Peruvian and Latin American population can also become presidents of their respective countries by having access to quality health care and education.

Dr. Toledo was a visiting Scholar at Harvard University and Research Associate at Wasseda University in Tokyo.

Before becoming President, Dr. Toledo worked for the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, and the United Nations in New York.

On the stump, like the most experienced politicians, Toledo knows how to work a crowd, whether addressing peasants or potential foreign investors. Seamlessly transitioning from a buttoned-down, eloquent economist to a rebel outfitted in jeans, a t-shirt, and a bandana, Toledo is well versed in international trade and promises to give voice to the labor movement.

Mostly, though, Toledo has preached a centrist platform, pledging to award small-business loans to farmers, balance the budget, lure foreign investment, and create jobs. Toledo’s moderate campaign and carefully selected issues have found broad appeal. Let us also remember the academic institution he is now connected with – Stanford University and the Hoover Institution so let us not expect him to be a chess piece of the left.

President Toledo first appeared on the international political scene in 1996 when he formed and led a broad democratic coalition in the streets of Peru to bring down the autocratic regime of Alberto Fujimori. This coalition had the support of the international democratic community.

During the five years of Dr. Toledo’s presidency, the Peruvian economy grew at an average rate of 6 percent, registering as one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America. Inflation averaged 1.5 percent and fiscal deficit went as low as 0.2 percent. While markets in China and Thailand were opened, free trade agreement negotiations with the United States, Chile, Mexico and Singapore were about to conclude. These markets were generating new investments and jobs for the most poverty-stricken Peruvians.

Nevertheless the fight against poverty through health and educational investment was the internal central aim of Dr. Toledo’s presidency. As a result of sustained economic growth and deliberate social policies directed to the most poor, extreme poverty was reduced by 25 percent in five years. Employment grew at an average rate of 6 percent from 2004-2006. He started the alleviation of poverty process through investments in healthcare and education.

He is currently an economics professor (on leave) at the University of ESAN in Peru. and from Stanford University, and from the Freeman Spogli Institute’s Center on Democracy, Development and the rule of Law.

He is Founder and President of the Global Center for Development and Democracy (GCDD), which studies the interrelationship between poverty, inequality, and the future of democratic governance. The institute is housed in Latin America, The US, and the EU as we mentioned earlier. Dr. Toledo is currently a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at SAIS/Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC and also senior Fellow in Foreign Policy and Global Economy and Development at the Brookings Institution, and his wife is Visiting Professor in the Department of Anthropology at George Washington University. She teaches classes there on the culture and social organization of indigenous peoples in the Andean countries and their struggle for greater rights and participation in public life and democratic politics. Their base is now in Washington DC.

At the UN, March 26, 2010, Dr. Alejandro Toledo spoke about the relationship between economic growth and democracy – poverty, equality, social institutions – the challenges of achieving sustainable growth.

Democracy is not just about casting votes on election day. The high level of inequality in social institutions leads to low chance to get economic democracy. Poverty undermines economic growth and this in turn will destroy any concept of democracy.

In the streets of Latin America there is discontent that shows up as social unrest which then pushes away investment – everybody loses. Investment that comes in under such conditions has low rate of return. The investors must do their part in conjunction with the local government for their own long term goals.

Dr. Toledo does not share the “trickle down” concept. He wants the government to prioritize and show accountability in transparency conditions. It is all about transparency and education. He says it is not an abstract proposition that one achieves through professorial regression mathematics – it is his own life experience. He says democracy in Latin America is an empty shell to be used only on election day, then discarded – corruption rules and people have empty stomachs. People read statistics and ask – if we do so well – why is my stomach empty?

It takes 18-20 years to train a professional – a lawyer, doctor, engineer. He calls for strong democratic institutions to increase the quality of parliaments and bring about accountability.

He made some populist statements:

– Democracy does not have nationality.

– Human Rights does not have skin color.

– The air we breathe belongs to all of us.

The UN has put forward the goal of reducing poverty by 2015 – some countries will do it. Latin America has the stigma of instability, high inflation, and the foreign debt crisis. Again and again – the Toledo doctrine is that in order to have sustainable growth in Latin America the social aspects of democracy must be tackled in the interest of the people but also in the interest of the investors that are needed to help growth.

From here it opened up to questions and with a lively audience Dr. Toledo showed the hand of a master.

Journalists present wanted to know the Toledo reaction to Chavez and Morales populism and were not disappointed. The answer came that if you get a lot of money because of the increase of oil income – it is easy – but planning gets harder. He does not like the closing of independent TV channels or the jailing of the only opposition leader. This connects to climate change:

(1) But if we compete for investments we have to set clear terms and norms for the environment. You cannot build roads to integrate countries – Bolivia – Peru – Brazil – Paraguay – or build pipelines – without looking on the impact on indigenous people on the way.

(2) We must provide energy for the poor.

(3) But then the alternative to oil – to be cleaner, cheaper and to make the economy less dependent on oil.

Growth based on oil has brought up 3 million people world wide but the fossil crisis brought half a billion down into poverty.

But it could have been even worse if not for new players like Brazil.

Cheap labor is part of growth but the question is the collection of tax. The answer is new economy with indigenous democracy and not neo-liberalism, but without growth it will not work. The arrival of investment starts the chain. Microcredit alone will not do it – though microcredit has helped start small business. One needs then  (a) a project, (b) the microcredit and (c) a market.

Women have proven they can do it and with the result improve the education of their children.

Government and the companies are both responsible for social investment – water, education, more accountability.

Sustainable Development means when people are educated there is environmental concept of quality of life. That requires policies that go beyond political statements and it needs investments – so he talks of environment, less corruption.

If there is corruption, the cost of production increases, the self esteem of the society is lost – there is no faith in government without accountability – this leads to poverty and corruption and corruption is higher in authoritarian regimes.

Now that lead to the Venezuelan intervention that is described further on by Matthew Lee.

I will end here by saying that the Dr. Alejandro Toledo platform is clearly not of the left, rather the Hoover Institution and the Washington houses of SAIS and Brookings. But it is think-tank stuff that can show the way to the ALBA and Rio Groups on how to cooperate with Washington in development of their own people and countries, provided they also put brakes on the deeds of the foreign companies and on their own governments. If this is said in a balanced way, and the corporations want to go to Latin America with long-term goals – not just for the reaping of mineral resources, with responsible governance concepts, a Toledo consultancy in Washington should be weighed in gold. He could thus be more effective there now then at the helm of Peru alone.

I would be interested to get further information from Venezuela of how they would want to be seen as presenters of a different point of view – or simply as defenders of an insulted regime that did indeed jail its opposition and stopped media. But, if they have an argument with those that got silenced, we would like to see how those arguments could improve upon the Toledo presentation.

Regarding the UNU, the event was great. When Venezuela wanted to have its intervention he made it possible and stood firm that in an academic institution there cannot be political censorship – simply said – Venezuela cannot stop at the UN the expression of criticism by anyone – clearly not by another former head of State. Further, it must be noted that when there was a coup in 2003 against President Chavez, then President Toledo and other Latin American Presidents, including Lagos of Chile, spoke up for President Chavez.

* * * * *

At UN, Peru’s Toledo Coy about Election, Blasts Chavez, Draws Venezuelan Protest.

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 26 — Former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, reportedly polling at 11% support in the run up to the 2011 election, spoke Friday at the UN in New York. Inner City Press asked him about his poll numbers and plans, including if he might join forces with the leader of the Partido Popular Cristiano, Lourdes Flores Nano, who polls lower at six percent.

“I understand you are a journalist,” Toledo began. “You do your job and I do mine. I am not a candidate, I’m sorry to disappoint you.” He paused. “At least not yet.”

Toledo went on to describe his “heavy burden” as the first president elected in 500 years from “an Andean background… I’m concerned how to implement, how to change lives.”

Describing his life as a professor, he concluded that he’d “lost him mind” once moving from “academia to politics, I’m trying to be care not to commit the same mistake.”

Toledo was also asked, twice, about Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. Toledo contrasts a leader flush with oil money with one, implicitly like him, who tries to manage an economy correctly. He denounced the shutting down of media and arrests of political opponents.

A representative of Venezuela’s Mission to the UN ran out into the hallway of the UN’s new Temporary North Lawn Building, clutching his cell phone. Later, a more senior Venezuelan representative, Ms. Medina, entered the room. She was given the last question of the UN University event.

She chided Toledo for criticizing President Chavez without giving any notice to the Venezuelan Mission, calling this “cobardia” or cowardice.

UN’s Ban and Toledo, Hugo Chavez and right of reply not shown

The audience, with many Toledo supporters in attendance, booed the use of this word, and urged the UNU moderator to cut off the question. But Ms. Medina continued, in Spanish, with the colleague who had called her providing a monotone translation.

She said the Toledo had supported the coup against Chavez in 2003. While some argue that it was not a coup at all, Toledo when he responded countered that he had issued a press released condemning the attempt to oust Chavez. He conceded that for a time his popularity had sunk to 8%, but he said this was because he was not “managing for polls.” Ms. Medina rolled her eyes. She said Toledo did not understand democracy.

Afterwards, Ms. Medina was heard to say while in the UN coffee line that “there are going to be problems.” It was unclear if this meant a complaint against UNU. She also told a journalist to be sure to report “objectively.” Or what?

Also after the showdown, sources say that Toledo’s wife complained to the UNU moderator about the Venezuelan intervention, and ask that he deliver a short apology for the camera crew following Toledo. Some surmised a campaign commercial being filmed.

At Friday’s UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman Martin Nesirky about the relation between UNU and the UN, and whether UN events held inside UN buildings implied that member states have the “right of reply” as they have in the General Assembly. Nesirky said he’d look into it.

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