Ollanta Humala has cancelled a scheduled trip to Venezuela, at least for now, and has declared that his country is a strategic ally of the United States in its struggle against drug trafficking. The president-elect has met with Peru’s leading businessmen, and it seems that the meeting has had a soothing effect on capital.

Simultaneously, the lieutenant colonel asked Álvaro Vargas Llosa to travel to China, Japan, Washington and Brussels to still the financial waters, acting as a sort of provisional foreign minister. Oddly enough, the Chinese love the idea that Peru stays on the capitalist road, far from the rabid Third-World hooliganism of the ALBA alliance of nations led by Venezuela. It is always easier to conduct mutually satisfactory transactions with law-abiding states ruled by the market than with the tumultuous tribe of the unpredictable “revolutionaries.”

Among the names being considered to occupy the post of prime minister is that of Beatriz Merino, a liberal attorney (in the Latin American sense of the word) who is renowned for her honesty and commitment to the defense of human rights. Her appointment would be a very important signal of political good sense, the final blow to collectivist authoritarianism. It would also signal that Ollanta has transformed from a carnivorous leftist into an amiable vegetarian social democrat whom you can invite for coffee without fear that he’ll bite you.

It is possible that Humala has realized that the socialist model fashioned by Hugo Chávez has no future in Peru, other than causing tension, collective impoverishment and, probably, the collapse of the fragile democratic institutions. After 11 years, any objective observer can see that the unruly Venezuelan madhouse remains standing only because of the river of petrodollars that flows into the country. How and when did Ollanta Humala’s transformation occur? It is impossible to know. Nor can we be sure if he really changed his mind and modified his scale of values or if he’s simply a pragmatic person who understands his objective limitations and acts accordingly.

Ollanta grew up under the influence of his father, lawyer Isaac Humala, a militant and battle-hardened communist, a defender of the path of violence as a way to impose his ideas, a man who combined Marxism with indigenous racism, who took pride in having trained his sons Ollanta and Antauro to seize power in a military coup that would impose on Peru a reign of something called “ethnocacerism,” a pompous name for his totalitarian fantasies.

[“Ethnocacerism” combines ethnic nationalism and reverence for Gen. Andrés Avelino Cáceres, three times president of Peru in the late 19th century.]

Then, Ollanta Humala received economic aid and political support from the Venezuelan president. Chávez bet heavily on him during the 2006 elections, a fact that Alan García used to defeat him easily. Later, it seems that former Brazilian President Inácio Lula da Silva walked him to the altar to marry him to the ideas of social-democratic moderation and an affordable variant of welfare “lite.”

Finally, one month before the recent elections, during the second round, Mario Vargas Llosa and Alejandro Toledo showed up to read him the liberal riot act and forge with him a pact that would lead him to power in exchange for respecting the norms of democracy, the constitution and the economic model that for the past decade has boosted the general growth of Peru to levels near 8 percent, although in certain areas of Lima that percentage reaches 20.

What will Chávez’s movement do if Humala’s defection from its ranks is confirmed?

If the information in WikiLeaks is accurate, a similar situation arose in Ecuador involving President Lucio Gutiérrez, whom Chávez thought he had seduced and who later departed from that line. The Venezuelan leader staged a conspiracy to overthrow him. A third brother of Ollanta’s, Ulises, a university professor and the sharpest brain in the family, believes and fears that the Chávez faction will want to seize on his triumph at any cost. The great paradox is that if Humala governs well, he will do so against the convictions of his former comrades.