Daughter of imprisoned ex-president leads elections in Peru

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LIMA, Peru (AP) – The daughter of an imprisoned former president led the race for the Peruvian presidency late Sunday night, hours after polls closed in the second round of elections held as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hit country of the Andes.

With 42% of the vote, conservative Keiko Fujimori received 52.9% of the vote, while the village teacher-turned-political newcomer Pedro Castillo received 47%, according to official results. This is Fujimori’s third candidacy for the presidency, which her father held in the 1990s.

Polarized populist candidates have pledged coronavirus vaccines for everyone and other strategies to mitigate the health emergency that has left more than 180,000 people dead in Peru and millions below the poverty line. The election follows a statistical amendment by the Peruvian government that more than doubled the death toll from COVID-19, previously confirmed by officials.

“The second round has never been so clearly divided as this election,” Peruvian political analyst Fernando Tuesta said on his Twitter account. In 2016, current former President Pedro Pablo Kuchinsky defeated Fujimori with just 42,597 votes.

Voters across Peru, where voting is compulsory, were sent to polling stations during Sunday on a schedule designed to minimize long lines. There have been no reports of polling unrest, even in San Miguel del Ene, a remote village in the cocaine-producing area where a massacre took place two weeks ago that killed 16 people.

Election polls showed that the candidates were practically tied in the second round. In the first round of voting, in which 18 candidates participated, none of them received more than 20% support, and both were strongly opposed by sections of the Peruvian society.

“Well, the truth is, I think Peruvians are used to this type of solution – being left with two options that leave much to be desired, but what are we going to do?” said one voter, Paul Perez, at a school in the capital of Lima where he voted. “We are in a social, cultural situation that does not allow us to foresee all of this.”

The pandemic has not only destroyed Peru’s medical and cemetery infrastructure, left millions of unemployed and highlighted long-standing inequalities in the country, but also exacerbated people’s distrust of the government as it failed to cope with the COVID-19 response and launched a secret vaccination campaign for well-connected people. … into a national scandal.

Amid protests and allegations of corruption in November, the South American country replaced three presidents. Now analysts are warning that the election could be another tipping point for simmering disillusionment and further exacerbate political instability.

“I think there is a high risk of social unrest in both situations. It’s a ticking time bomb, ”said Claudia Navas, an analyst at the global company Control Risks. “I think that if Castillo wins, people who support Fujimori or support the continuation of the economic model to some extent may object.”

But Navas said that “if Fujimori wins, a more complex scenario will develop because Castillo was able to create a discourse that worked well in some rural communities regarding social divide and said that political and economic elites organized things to stay in power … and maintain social inequality ”.

On Sunday, fears of increased political instability were evident.

President Francisco Sagasti said after the vote that candidates should respect the results and ask their supporters to refrain from protesting the results. Meanwhile, leftist Castillo asked his supporters to remain calm before the results were released.

“Let’s wait for the official data, and at this point we will go out to declare ourselves,” he said using a megaphone in the remote northern region of Takabamba.

Dozens of Castillo’s followers marched in support of the candidate through the streets of Huancayo, the most important city in central Peru.

Fujimori remained at her campaign headquarters in Lima, where she was visited by a local famous Brazilian seer.

According to Felipa Yanacris, a resident of Lima, Peru’s presidential policy “desperately” needs a shake-up. “We want change, we have been waiting for change for 30 years,” Janacris said.

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Fujimori voted in the affluent area of ​​the capital Lima, where she lives, urging people to vote “without fear,” while Castillo called for calm by voting with his parents in rural Angia.

The former congresswoman promised people various bonuses, including a one-time payment of $ 2,500 to every family with at least one COVID-19 victim. She also proposed to distribute 40% of the tax on mining, oil or gas extraction among families living near these areas.

Her supporters include the wealthy players of the national football team and Mario Vargas Llosa, a prominent Peruvian writer and Nobel Prize laureate for literature. Vargas, who lost three decades ago in the presidential elections to the father of the candidate Alberto Fujimori, in 2016 stopped calling her “the daughter of a dictator” and began to consider her a representative of “freedom and progress.”

Keiko Fujimori herself was imprisoned as part of a bribery investigation, but was later released. Her father ruled from 1990 to 2000 and is serving a 25-year sentence for corruption and the murder of 25 people. She promised to release him if she won.

Until recently, Castillo was a rural schoolteacher in the country’s third poorest area, deep in the Andes. The son of illiterate peasants entered politics, leading a teachers’ strike. Although his stance on nationalizing key sectors of the economy has softened, he remains committed to rewriting the constitution approved under Father Fujimori’s regime.

Castillo’s supporters include former Bolivian President Evo Morales and former Uruguayan President Jose Mujica, who told Castillo in a Facebook conversation on Thursday “not to fall into authoritarianism.”

Peru is the world’s second largest copper exporter, and mining accounts for nearly 10% of its GDP and 60% of its exports, so Castillo’s initial proposal to nationalize the country’s mining industry has raised alarm among business leaders. But regardless of who is elected to replace Sagasti on July 28, investors will remain wary.

“The victory of left-wing populist Pedro Castillo in the Peruvian presidential election on Sunday is likely to put local financial markets in a tailspin, but we doubt investors will have much to celebrate, even if his rival Keiko Fujimori wins,” said Nikhil Sangani. Markets economist Capital Economics wrote on Friday in a note to investors.

“Fujimori is a controversial figure under investigation on corruption charges. Given the recent history of Peru, it is not hard to imagine that this could trigger impeachment proceedings, ”he said.

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This was announced by Garcia Cano from Mexico City.

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