Humala to oversee start of Pisco reconstruction, criticized for silence

President Ollanta Humala is planning to visit Pisco Friday to oversee reconstruction efforts in the southern city, four years after it was rocked by a magnitude-8 earthquake.

According to state news agency Andina, Humala will be accompanied by Transport and Communications Minister Carlos Paredes and Housing Minister Rene Cornejo, as well as regional and local authorities from Ica department, where Pisco is located.

The quake, which lasted two minutes, destroyed three-quarters of Pisco’s city center, and serious damages were also sustained in the broader area of Chincha and Ica city, with a small tsunami also damaging Pisco and the resort town of Paracas. Approximately 500 people were killed and thousands more were left homeless.

Ex-President Alan Garcia’s administration was heavily criticized for failing to rebuild the area. Humala, a 49-year-old left-wing nationalist, has promised to send the military to the city to lead the reconstruction.

Humala was elected on June 5 following a contentious campaign and took office on July 28. However, since his inauguration, the president has largely been silent with the odd message sent out by Twitter, a stark contrast to the verbose Garcia.

By staying out of the media spotlight, Humala has avoided answering questions on controversial appointments. The appointment include the presidential legal advisor and head of anti-drug agency Devida, both who have been questioned about their professional history, as well as the naming of his wife’s second cousin –economist Tania Quispe– to lead tax agency Sunat.  Quispe has been a partner at Deloitte for the past 10 years and teaching at the Catholic, Ricardo Palma and San Marcos universities.

In addition, Humala has also not commented on an increasingly controversial story about the possible release of his jailed-brother Antauro, who was convicted of leading a rebellion in 2005, which resulted in the deaths of four police officers, to overthrow former President Alejandro Toledo.

Political analyst Enrique Bernales played down the silence, saying that “every president has his style for governing” and that “he doesn’t have to speak every day.” 

According to a Datum opinion poll published today, Humala’s approval rating is at 62%.

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