The already weakened government of President Ollanta Humala has suffered a string of new setbacks, starting with the defeat last month of a youth-employment law it had stubbornly tried to impose. The administration also ceded ground recently to indigenous protestors, by halting natural gas operations in the region of Jumn, and to the political opposition, by removing a number of key Cabinet officials.
Opponents of Ley 30288, which created a special labor regimen that scaled back rights for young workers (NotiSur, Jan. 16, 2015), scored a major victory on Jan. 26 when Congress, in an extraordinary session convoked by President Humala, voted to repeal the government-backed law.
The vote capped off more than a month of agitation, mostly by young people, who held a series of massive demonstrations against Ley 30288. The first took place Dec. 18. The movement planned to hold a fifth protest on Jan. 28, the same day the legislature's Comision Permanente was scheduled to revisit the controversial law. But on Jan. 23, in a surprising message to the nation, President Humala announced a change of plans, saying he would make use of special constitutional powers to convene an extraordinary session of Congress and thus force an early vote on the matter.
The move proved to be disastrous for the government as lawmakers voted 91 to 18 (with five abstentions) to repeal the unpopular law, which according to a survey released Feb. 1 by the polling firm GfK was opposed by 76% of the population. Among those who voted to defeat Ley 30288 were six members of Humala's own party, including Vice President Marisol Espinoza.
Demanding a general labor law
"The voice of the people, of the youth, has triumphed," Deputy Rosa Mavila of the Accion Popular-Frente Amplio (AP-FA) coalition told members of the press. "This norm deserved to be overturned because all it did was promote precarious employment and a policy of [labor] flexibility that really hurts our young people."
The young activists opposing the law decided, upon learning about the extraordinary legislative session, to hold their fifth demonstration ahead of schedule. Starting that morning (Jan. 26) they took to the streets of Lima. Hours later, when word spread that the law had been defeated, some of the protestors--those whom police allowed to pass through--gathered outside the Congress building to celebrate. The celebration continued in the Plaza San Martin in Lima's Historic Center, where a spontaneous music festival took...