Peru was on the cutting edge on Friday as the electoral regime reviewed ballots in the presidential election following a challenge to vote for the losing candidate Keiko Fujimori.
The last vote gave left-leaning teacher Pedro Castillo a 50.17% to 49.83% advantage over his right-wing rival Fujimori, equivalent to about 60,000 votes.
However, the country’s electoral authority has not yet confirmed the victory, and Fujimori, the spy for a controversial political dynasty, has refused to admit it.
She claims fraud, even though national and international observers said the vote was clean and has called for up to 500,000 votes to be canceled or re-examined, forcing the electoral commission to review votes.
Castillo, a teacher at a rural school and son of illiterate peasants, was an almost unknown graduate until a few months ago. He claimed victory Thursday after a vote by a vote count in Sunday̵
Castillo was wearing the typical broad farmer’s hat from his Andean homeland of Cajamarca and was pushed to what appears to be a razor-sharp victory of the countryside, hammered by one of the world’s worst Covid outbreaks, which forced millions into unemployment and got many others to leave large cities and return to their villages.
Despite the pandemic, Castillo fought across the Andes in rural areas, even on horseback, promising that there would be “no more poor in a rich country” and forming a Constituent Assembly to write a new “people’s” constitution.
The vote has divided the country between the poor Andean hinterland and the richer and more urban north coast and the capital Lima, as millions of Peruvians vented their anger at political instability, corruption and weak, underfunded public services such as health and education, exacerbated by the pandemic.
In a bitterly divisive campaign, Castillo, belonging to the hard-left Perú Libre party, was portrayed by Fujimori and her supporters as a communist threat to Peru’s free market model for the past 30 years.
Fujimori – the daughter of imprisoned former president Alberto Fujimori from the 1990s – threw herself as a defender of the status quo in the market-friendly country and won the support of the business elite and the urban middle class as well as sports personalities and celebrities.
Up until the vote, there were frightening electronic billboards in Lima warning that Peru could settle like Cuba or Venezuela, and a biased media that strongly favored Fujimori, as it had done in previous elections, forcing journalists to resign from at least one TV channel.
On Thursday night, pro-Fujimori protesters surrounded the home of the election campaign leader, and others called for military intervention, prompting an official response from the armed forces that it would respect the election result.
Fujimori, who appears to be failing in her third election run with the thinnest margin, could lose more than the presidency when prosecutors said Thursday she had violated bail conditions by contacting witnesses and could return to jail. She has already spent more than a year in custody, accused of receiving more than $ 17 million in illegal campaign funds and leading a criminal organization. She could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the charges, which she denies, calling them politically motivated.
Accepting his virtual victory on Tuesday, Castillo told supporters his government would be “respectful of democracy, the current constitution …”[and of] financial and economic stability, ”in an apparent move to reassure investors’ fears of the world’s second-largest copper producer.
“Private companies will continue to be private companies,” said Pedro Francke, a financial adviser to Castillo’s campaign. He ruled out the nationalization of resources, but said multinational mining companies should leave more money in the country.