The country facing uncertainty, consensus and unity are being demanded

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PERU-

The Mental Health Workgroup of the Human Rights Peruvian Coordinator issued a statement amidst the uncertainty during this electoral time in the country. “When a hate speech is being used as a means for winning, a polarization damaging mental health is exacerbated. There is no intention to listen, and a “narrowminder” rules when the reasonable thing to do is to call for unity, as it has been done in other circumstances. This time, however, no one thought of it, and contradictions are highlighted with the intention of gaining votes, foreseeing  a deeper crisis, less achieving and few improvements in public policies that guarantee human rights,” they say.

This past Sunday, the Peruvian people went to cast their ballots to elect a president of the Republic and Congress, who will take office on July 28th of this current year, for a period of five. By this time, the only certainties are: 1) there will be a ballotage for electing the presidency and; 2) there will be a highly fragmented Congress, with 10 or more political groups which would be represented within the institution.

Here is the full statement:

In one of the worst times of our history, with a pandemic whose number of casualties is higher than any of the one left by Peru’s wars during the last 200 years, including the internal armed conflict, we the people must face a new electoral process, and choose an option that contributes to the solution of the accute crisis.

A reality marked by uncertainty, unease and fear requires a mental health approach, unfortunately missing and disdained by most electoral proposals. “People were expecting, in light of such a crisis, that the behaviour of political parties, candidates and supporters promoted, not damaged, the mental health of the people, but what evidence shows is the seekin for destruction with degradation and stereotypes, and looking for adhesions by means of manipulation, fear or anger,” says Nélida Baca, member- psychologist of the The Mental Health Workgroup  (GTSM, in Spanish) of the Human Rights Peruvian Coordinator.

She adds that “when a hate speech is being used as a means for winning, a polarization damaging mental health is exacerbated. There is no intention to listen, and a “narrowminder” rules when the reasonable thing to do is to call for unity, as it has been done in other circumstances. This time, however, no one thought of it, and contradictions are highlighted with the intention of gaining votes, foreseeing  a deeper crisis, less achieving and few improvements in public policies that guarantee human rights.”

For Tesania Velázquez, professor of the Psychology Department of the PUCP, and a member of GTSM “the predominant trend of saving yourself no matter what undemines the fragile social relations of the country, which is further damaged by the increasing corruption and resulting mistrust in the political system and the authorities. The growin outrage in a context of sickness and death, with thousands of families lacking the time and conditions to go through their mourning, explains the effects on the mental health of the people, that could have been given attention and should be now by generating social and political conditions than prevent further damage.”

From the thoughts and experiences of those who form the GTSM, solidarity has been the main factor of resistance and care for people’s health, in particular, of those who are most vulnerable, giving support from basic social organisations and other civil groups. However, it is necessary to highlight, mental health is a right, and it is on the Gorvernment to guarantee it. Hence, given the context of crisis the country is going through, the lack of proposals regarding mental health during these elections is worrying

 “Mental health should be part of the political action, and point to nurture trust and hope. This involves building solidarity relations, questioning unfair situations, and being creatively responsive to people’s expectations and needs. We do not deserve what has been happening, and our vote must express it during the elections on Sunday 11th April, and in any other ocassion,” professor Vázquez says.

In that context, we demand from all political parties, those passing onto ballotage in particular, to assume the urgent responsibility of achieving consensus base don the acknowledgement of dignity and rights of all people, and to help us overcome the big crisis with justice and resposibility.

The Mental Health Workgroup  – GTSM has existed for over 15 years and their membes are professionals (female psychologists, mostly) dedicated to the promotion of mental health, from a comunitarian and human rights approach within the country.

Es parte de la Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos, que es un colectivo de más de 80 organizaciones a nivel nacional, y que tiene más de 30 años de presencia en el país. La Asociación Paz y Esperanza, parte del Consorcio de ALC Noticias, es una de las instituciones que la conforma

They are part of the Human Rights Peruvian Coordinator, a group of over 80 organisations at a local level in Peru, and that has been in the country foro ver 30 years. The Paz y Esperanza Association, part of the ALC News group, is one of the member-institutions.

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