2015's First Consular Connect Brings Peruvian Consul General to Campus

April 01, 2015

Peru Consul GeneralPeruvian Consul General Miguel Aleman-Urteaga met with a class of Kennesaw State University honors students to share how his country has transformed itself over the last decade from a poverty-stricken nation into one of the fastest-growing economies in South America.

Consul General Aleman-Urteaga spoke to nearly 40 honors world history students on March 24th as part of 2015’s first Consular Connect event. Hosted by the Kennesaw State University Division of Global Affairs, Consular Connect invites members of the Atlanta Consular Corps to visit campus and speak with students, faculty, and staff. Since the program began in fall 2014, diplomats from Germany, the United Kingdom, and France have also spoken to Kennesaw State students.

“Over the last 20 years, Peru has had a lot of involvement in international trade,” Aleman-Urteaga said during his presentation, entitled Why Peru? “We’ve signed trade agreements with all the world’s major international economies and are negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.”

During the last 12 years, Peru’s gross domestic product has grown 6 percent each year, reaching $206 billion USD in 2013. This growth has had a direct impact on reducing poverty within Peru. In 2001, 51 percent of the country lived below the poverty line. Today, that number has fallen to 23.5 percent.

“This means we have offered 8 million people better lives,” Aleman-Urteaga said. “Our goal is to become a fully developed economy by 2030.”

Aleman-Urteaga says Peru has achieved such strong economic success by opening its economy.

Peru’s openness, Aleman-Urteaga contends, has led the country to become a global exporter, with preferential access to 4 billion people internationally. It is the world’s sixth-largest exporter of avocados, and the eighth-largest exporter of grapes. Aleman-Urteaga is also proud to mention that Peru produces several world-champion surfers.

The presentation concluded with Aleman-Urteaga giving students the opportunity to ask questions about Peru. Issues discussed during the Q&A included efforts by the Peruvian government to encourage participation in indigenous languages and culture, and the role that the Shining Path continues to play in the country. While the organization had attempted to seize control of the Peruvian government in the 1980s and 90s through terror, today it no longer poses a threat beyond acting as a security force for drug traffickers in a localized area of Peru.

With regard to a question on Peru´s economic openness, the Consul General of Peru said “It all has to do with what a country does to develop and get out of poverty,” Aleman-Urteaga said. “Peru had experience [with state-run businesses] in the 1970s, but it didn’t work for us with some exceptions. Instead, Peru has chosen the path of openness.”

Ultimately, the message that Aleman-Urteaga wanted the students to take away is that while Peru is in a continuous process of economic growth, it must continue to make strides toward reducing poverty.

“While we want growth,” he said, “we also want our economic development to focus on increasing social inclusion for all of our people.”

--Patrick Harbin