How Powerful Is Peru?

In June 2016, former Wall Street banker and finance minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski defeated leftist party leader Keiko Fujimori in Peru’s Presidential election Kuczynski’s win, which was secured by a razor thin lead of roughly 40 thousand votes, marked the country’s slow but steady shift toward neo-liberalism

Peru has one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America, putting them in stark contrast to its once-powerful left-leaning neighbors, Venezuela and Brazil So, exactly how powerful is Peru? Well, Peru is the third largest Latin American country At nearly half a million square miles, it is slightly smaller than the US state of Alaska Peru’s population of just over 30 million has more than doubled in the last four decades, and is increasingly concentrated in urban areas These city-dwellers benefit the most from Peru’s economic prosperity

Peru’s GDP of more than $200 billion dollars has quadrupled since 1999, due mainly to demand for its largest exports, which are copper, gold and petroleum gas The country’s growth has also been attributed to its expansion of free trade Over the last decade, Peru has negotiated trade deals with 18 countries, the EU, and the European Free Trade Organization And, in recent years, Peru has signed the Trans Pacific Partnership, as well as a trade pact with Chile, Colombia and Mexico called the Pacific Alliance Peru’s increasingly pro-business government has been credited for the country’s increasing wealth and plummeting poverty rate

However, much of Peru’s large rural and indigenous population still suffer from endemic poverty, and the state has been criticized for promoting policies that solidify the country’s income inequality What’s more, Peru’s rapid growth has slowed in recent years due a global slump in commodity prices Nonetheless, the country has avoided the steep recession affecting its resource-rich neighbors, Venezuela and Brazil When it comes to military power, Peru is only getting stronger With nearly 400 thousand defense personnel and a more than two-and-a-half billion dollar annual budget, the country ranks 40th worldwide in terms of military strength

Peru abolished the draft in 1998, only to reinstate it in 2013 The country's economic prosperity led to better opportunities for its citizens, which had caused a decline in military recruits  Additionally, though it is a completely separate organization, Peru’s roughly 120-thousand person police force is often compared to the army This is because for decades, Peruvian police have been trained to combat terrorism, and have acquired a number of army-like characteristics and capabilities So, militarily and economically, Peru is on solid ground

But the country is not without problems Peru is one of the world’s largest producers of cocaine, and struggles with rampant crime and corruption Like most of Latin America, Peru is grappling with plunging commodity prices and, as a result, an economic slowdown But its new president has promised to address many of these issues, even floating a plan to incorporate informal economy  into the taxation system Should he succeed, we could soon see an incredibly powerful Peru

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