Bill 1609 Will Be Good for Peru's Economy: an Open Letter

by David Sugar

To:      Office of the Ambassador;            US Consulate Office, Lima, Peru;            Otto J. Reich, Assistant Secretary of State;            Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs;            Alejandro Toledo, President, Republic of Peru;            The people of Peru and their elected Congress;

As a US citizen and taxpayer, I am outraged by reports of the behavior and actions of our former ambassador to Peru, John R. Hamilton, in interfering with the passage of Bill 1609 by the Peruvian Legislature.

While I fully understand that Mr. Hamilton's duties as an ambassador representing our national interests in Peru certainly include economic and commercial interests, the position of our government can never be to represent the sole interests of one commercial entity over those of other US companies, many of whom, as it happens, would find economic benefit in the open market in commercial software that 1609 would create in Peru. Is it the duty of the US government to choose which US companies can and cannot be permitted to compete openly in a given marketplace or to discourage opportunities for politically nonfavored US companies in an arbitrary or potentially corrupt manner? We often hear about such activities occurring in countries that are neither democratic nor have open and free markets, so I find it shameful that an agent of our own national government would misuse his post to lobby personally on behalf of one corporate entity, especially one that has been convicted in our own courts of establishing an illegal monopoly.

That 1609 is a matter of internal policy for Peru and an expression of the people and their democratically elected representatives to maximize the value of software goods and services purchased through their national government also seems to be a matter for Peru to decide, without outward intimidation and threats to existing and future treaties between our nations. As with any democratic legislature, the congress of Peru has a fundamental duty to receive the most value for goods and services purchased when spending their taxpayers' money. In our own country this is done through FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations). The goal of FAR is not to run an auction where the lowest bidder receives government contracts but to create conditions where the most value will be received at the lowest possible cost.

Similarly, 1609 hopes to create a situation where the most value can be gained from the Peruvian government's investment in software products and services. Passing 1609 would make it possible for Peruvians to develop and compete locally with new and innovative products in the international software marketplace on an equal basis, rather than merely consume and service products produced by others. Unlike the false claims made by Mr. Hamilton, rejecting 1609 will not in itself magically create 15,000 new jobs. After all, rejection of this bill only will continue the way by which Peru's government currently purchases software and, hence, effect no change at all. In rejecting 1609, there likely will be less jobs available, as the ever-increasing costs of proprietary licenses restrict money for other purposes.

It is clear that in addition to creating open markets, 1609 will help make Peru a true economic partner rather than a dependent nation in software technology. As such, it provides opportunities for Peru's entrepreneurs to produce products and services locally rather than forcing dependence on a monopoly. This will promote growth of a democratic culture and an expanded middle class in Peru. A bill like 1609 is likely to revitalize the commercial software marketplace and increase the value of software purchased by our own government; it should be emulated rather than discouraged.

My fondest hope is that Mr. Hamilton's replacement is better able to serve the needs of representing the goals and interests of our nation as a whole to Peru. In my own opinion, our deepest national interest should be in the long term goals of encouraging the continued growth of a civil democratic society and open markets, as this will provide the maximum commercial opportunities for ourselves as well as for the people of Peru. Laws like 1609 will help make this goal become possible, putting an end to colonial economics.

David Sugar218 Louis AveSomerset, NJ 08873

David Sugar is the GNU Bayonne Project maintainer.

Load Disqus comments