“There is always available information. But there is a great need for resources and generally they come when you are ahead. Any good and well thought-out campaign plan should include a number of people responsible for fundraising, those who know on which “doors to knock.” – Lourdes Flores Nano
iKNOW Politics: Dr. Flores, thank you very much for speaking with iKNOW Politics. To start, would you please tell our readers a bit about your background?
I’m a Peruvian lawyer. I studied in Lima in a Canadian convent school called Reina de los Angeles (Queen of the Angels) and then in the Catholic University of Lima. I followed a Master’s Degree at the Instituto de Empresa in Madrid and did my Doctorate Studies in the Complutense University. I have not read my thesis yet so do not yet have my doctoral degree.
iKNOW Politics: We understand that you became politically active in the party youth movement at age 18. How did you become interested in politics at such a young age? Were your family and friends supportive of your choice?
In the year 1977 when I became a university student, there was a lot of political activity in my university because the military government called for elections for a Constitutional Assembly. I decided to register myself in the Popular Christian Party. But in fact the key moment was in 1981 when a very close professor of mine was appointed as Justice Minister and invited me to be part of his group of counselors. That contact with power was indeed the breaking point that encouraged me to be very active in politics. My parents were supportive but never participated.
iKNOW Politics: You first served in government at the local level, as a member of the Lima Municipal Council. What do you think were your impact and role as a woman official at the local level?
It was a very good experience because I learned about the very specific problems of the migrants in Lima. On the other hand, it was a wonderful opportunity to defend some ideas in which I trusted but others didn’t, such as protecting the private property of the poor people. Since then I have always thought that being a woman has been an advantage.
iKNOW Politics: How would you describe the years you spent at the National Congress of Peru? What leadership style did you exercise as a Congresswoman?
I was a very active opposition Congresswoman, especially in defending rule of law and combating against the terrible bills that were presented and became laws. On the other hand, it was a good opportunity to legislate on some issues that had to do with women and that I’m very proud to have led, for example: Protection against Family Violence; gender quotas for elective positions; and DNA tests. And at the same time I was a member of some very important Committees such as the Constitutional Committee, and the ones that reviewed the Civil Procedure Code and the Corporate Law.
iKNOW Politics: We understand that when President Fujimori dissolved Congress, you held congressional meetings in your home. Can you please tell us more about your role in the opposition to President Fujimori?
Yes, my home was for several months a Congressional office. It was a great pleasure to have the leaders of every party come once a week to discuss the most relevant issues. On April 9 we declared the presidential seat vacant and called upon the second vice president to assume the presidency. When the Constitutional Assembly was called, and after an internal debate in my party, I ran for Congresswoman. I led my Party’s list and, with an enormous effort, we won 10% of the seats.
iKNOW Politics: How did your role as opposition leader change when President Toledo came into office through legitimate elections? What were some of the barriers that you faced as a woman opposition leader?
I decided not to run for Congressional reelection in 2000. My plan was to work calmly for the year 2005. I supported Toledo at the end of his 2000 campaign because he became the alternative against Fujimori. I helped him on his resistance activities, especially in Washington and at the OAS Meetings. There were no barriers to me for these activities simply because I was a woman. On the contrary, I was highly respected by my colleagues.
iKNOW Politics: What were the challenges you came across while running in the Peruvian presidential elections in 2001 and 2006? And what advice would you give to other women leaders and candidates based on that experience?
My participation in the 2001 election was a last minute decision. While it was not sufficiently planned, things did run reasonably well. I put all my efforts into the 2006 campaign and I really thought I was going to win. But there were mistakes. I do not feel that I am able to give advice to others, except to say that being persistent and having a willingness to win is important. Even though I couldn’t get to victory, I think I did my best and wait with great serenity for the future.
iKNOW Politics: What specifically would you recommend to women who want to succeed in their political career but have limited access to resources and information?
Information shouldn’t be a problem. There is always available information. But there is a great need for resources and generally they come when you’re ahead. Any good and well thought-out campaign plan should include a number of people responsible for fund raising, those who know on which “doors to knock.”
iKNOW Politics: Thank you again for your time. The members and users of iKNOW Politics appreciate your insights and advice.