In a continuing trend in Latin American politics of Left-wing political movements on the ascendancy which has seen successful attempts to roll back free market friendly policies in favor of “starting from scratch” toward erecting more interventionist socialist states, the next political and electoral earthquake is set to hit Peru, where socialist candidate Pedro Castillo is maintaining a narrow lead over right-wing rival Keiko Fujimori as votes are still being counted and increasingly contested from Sunday’s run-off election.
As of early Tuesday it’s still being deemed “too close to call”, but with Castillo pulling away Fujimori is now alleging election “irregularities”. Son of peasant famers and an outspoken union leader, Castillo has “vowed to nationalize Peru’s vast mineral resources, to expel foreigners who commit crimes in the country, and to move towards reinstating the death penalty,” according to one profile.
While widely seen as far left, he doesn’t exactly fit standard partisan molds given he’s also been described as a Marxist socialist who rejects Communism, works with right-wing populists on labor rights and pension benefits, and is opposed to same-sex marriage, abortion & “gender ideology.”
Well over 95% of the vote has been counted, but it remains that remote rural areas are continuing to be tallied, and this is expected to favor Castillo; however, there are expectations of a prolonged contested outcome which could lead to further political instability after a years-long crisis in government.
The Guardian this week quoted one voter who summarized what’s at issue for many on the right, who fear Castillo government would only emulate failed policies elsewhere in the region…
Roxana Araníbal Fernandez, 56, an insurance company worker, who voted for Fujimori in the middle-class Miraflores neighborhood in Lima, said: “We want the country to keep progressing. We don’t want to copy models which we have seen don’t work from Venezuela or Cuba.”
But the legacy of Fujimori’s father – who is serving a 25-year sentence over corruption and death squad murders – and her own record as a politician play against her.
Peru election: Country on edge ahead of unpredictable run-off https://t.co/1x78nc8BOI
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) June 5, 2021
Responding to such widespread accusations, during a recent stump speech Castillo sought to assure, “We have just sat down and clarified that we are not communists, we are not Chavistas, we are not terrorists. We are workers like any of you; we have met in the streets; within that framework, we ask you for tranquility,” he expressed.
Some of the headlines are capturing a general sense of “panic” among Peru’s wealthy and elite class amid fears that a Castillo victory could lead to capital flight from Lima…
Meanwhile Reuters noted that Peru’s sol has continued plummeting to new lows, falling another 1% Tuesday after plunging 2.5% on Monday.