August 4, 2021

The immense challenges of Pedro Castillo, officially elected president of Peru

Peru will have had to wait forty-three days to know the name of its new president. On Monday July 19, the candidate of the radical left, Pedro Castillo, was finally proclaimed the winner of the second round of the presidential election on June 6, with 44,263 votes ahead of his rival, Keiko Fujimori (populist right). She exhausted all possible remedies to try to invalidate the vote, crying out for non-existent fraud. The electoral authorities and five international observer missions had assured that the ballot had taken place in full transparency.

“Here is my open heart for each of you”, said the 51-year-old former teacher and trade unionist in Lima from the balcony of the party headquarters that led him to power, Peru Libre. He promised to “Make a government of all Peruvians, of all bloods, without any discrimination, without looking askance at the natives, the Afro-Peruvian brothers”, while ensuring wanting “Guarantee legal and economic stability” from the country.

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A speech that was meant to be reassuring and unifying, while Peru has rarely been so polarized between two candidacies. During his campaign, Mr. Castillo had proposed a series of nationalizations and the end of certain imports to strengthen the local industry. Keiko Fujimori had accused him of wanting to lead the country to ruin and dictatorship. Considering “Illegitimate” the victory of M. Castillo, it had stirred up a hatred of race and class; in recent days, supporters of Mme Fujimori physically attacked Mr. Castillo’s activists, officials or journalists.

A very divided Congress

Pedro Castillo greets his supporters after election officials declared him president-elect during celebrations at his party's campaign headquarters in Lima, Peru on July 19, 2021.

Keiko Fujimori, who is under investigation for alleged bribes during her 2011 and 2016 presidential campaigns, where she had previously failed in the second round, had no choice but to acknowledge her third defeat, but, she recalled, “Peru needs all the social and political forces united in the great work of stopping communism”.

At the beginning of March, thirty years of imprisonment were required against the leader of Fuerza popular, the party created by her father, the 82-year-old ex-president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), who is serving a 25-year prison sentence for corruption and crimes against humanity.

Fuerza Popular now represents, with 24 seats, only the second force of a very divided Congress, where ten parties share the 130 seats. He held 73 in 2020. Mr. Castillo’s party – with 37 seats and five others from Juntos por el Peru (left), which has promised to support him – is the first force, but still too much of a minority for him. allow to govern as it pleases. He does not count on the support of the army or the media.

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