Stephanie gets up every day at five in the morning. She prepares something for lunch, gets ready, walks to catch a motorcycle cab to take her down to the avenue. On the avenue she gets on a van to the Metropolitano station. When she gets off, she walks eight blocks to the house where she works as a maid. It's eight in the morning. Ten hours later, if the employer is not late, she will make the reverse journey. When she gets home, almost at nine o'clock in the evening, she will be tired and will watch TV with her children.
For years Francisca has been suffering from a back pain that no one has diagnosed. So much crouching on the farm, she thinks. Isaías lost his job in Gamarra during the pandemic. Nicole is pregnant; she doesn't have the heart to tell her mother, who takes care of her two-year-old son all day so she can go out to sell soft drinks on the road. Luis learns that the company has stopped paying ESSALUD after standing in line since 4 am. Liz is happy to take the voucher for the turkey and the two panettones she received at the mine.
We could go on. In Peru, millions of people get up every day carrying the weight of history on their backs. And all the effort and energy they devote to transforming their living conditions end up vanishing, because a solitary effort is not enough to reverse centuries of inequality. Individual goodwill does not build a fair society.
Two hundred years of republican history have not been enough to gestate what Anderson, in his famous text, calls an "imagined community". In other words, an us leaning towards the future while strengthening ties in the present. These bonds of a "deep and horizontal companionship". Here is a key to the part of history that we have to write: horizontality refers to links between equals. Verticality, hierarchy, embedded in our ways of treating and perceiving each other, in our racialized bodies and tones of voice, are not fertile ground for community.
How to dismantle the hierarchy? With Nancy Fraser, we will say that the key lies in the conjunction of redistribution and recognition. Both feed back on each other. To this end, I identify three unavoidable ways: a) strengthen the tax burden: Peru is one of the countries in the world with the lowest tax burden, with approximately 14% of GDP. There are countries, all capitalist and democratic, whose tax burden is around 30% (Japan) or even 45% (France); b) Create decent employment: the MTPE is one of the most erratic, with permanent changes (23 ministers since 2001) and lack of long-term policies that consider not only employment / unemployment / underemployment indicators but also the quality of employment; c) initiate a process of de-institutionalization of corruption in the state matrix.
None of this will be possible if we do not assume the need to work with, from and for the population. The organized community strengthens democracy, it does not weaken it. To achieve this, public policies must follow the path of transversalities: women and diversity, youth, indigenous people, Afro-descendants, environment and public spaces should be the axes of the new policies for equality. Paraphrasing Sen, the guiding question will be which institutions for what?