By Valentin Pacho
April 24, 2021
Many fellow leaders of trade union organizations and popular social organizations in Latin America have been surprised by the results of the elections held on April 11 in my country, Peru, with the flash announcement of the winner in the first round, the candidate of the Peru Libre (PL) party, Pedro Castillo, a modest teacher from a rural school, whom the media press has begun to stigmatize as a radical and dangerous leftist. In fact, the first to be surprised were the Peruvians.
The forces of the neoliberal right presented themselves divided into 14 presidential lists with their respective candidates for the National Congress and the left also divided into 4 presidential slates with their candidates for Congress. Among the candidates of the right wing there were known characters of the right, center and even of the neo-fascist ultra-right linked to Opus Dei, followed by other known candidates with judicial processes for corruption, defectors, opportunists and adventurers.
Polls in January and February indicated that the candidate Jonhy Lescano of the Acción Popular (AP) party, considered of the center right, had the highest percentage of voting intentions, followed by the candidates of the right, Keiko Fujimori of Fuerza Popular (FP), Hernando de Soto of Avanza País (AP) and of the ultra-right Rafael López Aliaga of Renovación Popular (RP), of the left Verónica Mendoza of Juntos por el Perú (JP), Cesar Acuña of Alianza Para el Progreso (APP) and other candidates with lower percentages; but the candidates of the left: Marco Arana of Frente Amplio(FA), Pedro Castillo of (PL) and Andres Alcantara of Democracia Directa (DD) did not appear in the polls.
It was not until the last week of March and the first days of April that the name of Pedro Castillo, candidate of Peru Libre (PL), appeared in the polls and in the press with 4% of voting intention and after the debate among the 18 candidates’ days before the elections, his voting intention continued to increase, causing concern among the right-wing. Under these conditions, the elections were held on April 11 with the results of 18% for the PL candidate, leaving the other candidates far behind: it really surprised everyone.
30 YEARS OF NEOLIBERAL DICTATORSHIP AND ITS AFTERMATH
To explain the results of the 2021 elections, we have to take into account the consequences suffered by the great majority of the Peruvian people in 30 years of neoliberal dictatorship that produced: political, social, economic and moral crisis since 1990 with the government of Alberto Fujimori, father of Keiko Fujimori, candidate who will dispute in the second round with Pedro Castillo.
The neoliberal and corrupt political legacy of Alberto Fujimori was continued by governments accused of corruption and crimes: Alberto Fujimori sentenced to 25 years in prison for crimes against humanity, Alejandro Toledo fugitive in the United States, Alan Garcia committed suicide to avoid jail, Pedro Pablo Kuczinski in house arrest, Vizcarra indicted and disqualified for 10 years from holding public office and the current president Francisco Sagasti of the Purple Party has been in office for five months, but corruption continues like trafficking with vaccines: Peruvians have been governed by a bunch of criminals.
NEO-LIBERAL IDEOLOGY HAS LED TO POLITICAL ILLITERACY
The neoliberal ideology processed the depoliticization and de-ideologization of the great majority of the Peruvian population turning them into political illiterates; the monopolistic and corrupt media played an important role: it had repercussions on the youth, the workers, movements of popular sectors. And, the political parties or movements of the very weakened left could not counteract in the ideological struggle, with the aggravating factor that other currents of the left, influenced by the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), turned them into Leith left. For 30 years, the victims of neoliberalism chose their victimizers.
With the emergence of the pandemic since the beginning of 2020, the vast majority of the Peruvian population, forced by the government to remain quarantined in a situation of immobility condemned to starvation, schoolchildren unable to study, workers laid off, 7 million are unemployed, hospitals collapsed, without medicines, lack of ICU beds and oxygen. Peru has a world record number of deaths Covid 19 per million inhabitants according to the National Informatic System of Deaths (Sinadef).
(Sinadef) is around 135 thousand deaths per Covid 19, but the government and the corrupt press distort the figures, more than 70% of Peruvians realized that they were abandoned to their fate by a failed State.
PEDRO CASTILLO’S SURPRISE
In the exposed conditions and in the midst of the pandemic, the 2021 electoral campaign was carried out, with a great waste of millions of dollars by the candidates of the right wing: for the media press it was the great business of the year. The candidate Veronica Mendoza of Juntos por el Peru (JP) also had publicity, although not on the scale of the candidates of the right.
And, on the night of April 11, the media gave a surprise to Peruvians and interested Latin Americans, announcing that the winner in the first round with 17% was the candidate of Peru Libre (PL) Pedro Castillo, leaving behind all the marketed candidates who appeared with only 9% or less: there were expectations that the winner would be one from the right and those from the left had expectations in Veronica Mendoza (JP), but nobody thought it would be Pedro Castillo, the sectors of the right were trying to find an explanation and also those of Juntos por el Peru (Together for Peru).
With the vote count at 100%, Pedro Castillo of Perú Libre has obtained 18.1% and Keiko Fujimori of Fuerza Popular 14.5%, therefore they will compete in the second round: the electorate will decide between two options, each one with its own well-defined program, between the ultra-right for neoliberal continuity and the left for change with alternative policies to neoliberalism.
There is a 30% of the electorate who have not voted, and others who have not voted, and it is not known who they are going to vote for in the second round.
WHO IS PEDRO CASTILLO?
He is a teacher in a rural school located in a small town in the northern Cajamarca Region of Peru very far from the capital Lima, of peasant origin, his name appeared in the Peruvian media in 2017 as a result of a national strike of teachers in the vast majority of the provinces of the interior of the country: it put in check the neoliberal government and corrupt government of Pedro Pablo Kuczinski, the government authorities and allies stigmatized him of being linked to terrorism but without any proof, but from there he was marked as an undisputed union leader of teachers mistreated by low wages.
In addition to being a trade unionist, as a peasant he is a member of the peasant community which is traditional in the Andean populations, today they are called ronderos, their first function is self-defense, they watch over the well-being of all the members of the community, they practice true solidarity, they impose discipline and ethics fundamentally, within the community there is no theft, but if there is a delinquent, the community itself punishes exemplarily, in that environment and atmosphere Pedro Castillo has been formed.
The main proposals of the program of the PL candidate Pedro Castillo is more radical in content: to recover the properties of the nation, such as mining, hydrocarbons and other resources that were privatized by the neoliberal governments, as well as health services, education, housing and other social services should be taken over by the State and in international politics respect for the self-determination of the peoples but the changes proposed the convening of the Constituent Assembly to draft a new Constitution to replace the 1993 Constitution imposed by the neoliberal dictatorship of Alberto Fujimori.
WHY THE SURPRISING VOTE IN FAVOR OF PEDRO CASTILLO?
The vote obtained by the candidate of the Peru Libre PL party, is the rebellion of those Peruvians who live in marginal areas and neighborhoods of the other Peru, forgotten, ignored, despised, excluded, in the last 30 years by the corrupt rulers: they have expressed it at the polls is the product of the accumulated weariness or repudiation of the political parties that have governed the country.
Another cause of the vote in favor of Pedro Castillo is the disappointment produced by the betrayal of the mediocre Ollanta Humala who, with a leftist discourse in 2011 and with the unconditional support of the forces of the Peruvian left, was elected president, but a month later he surrendered to the right and did the opposite of his electoral promise. In this context, a large contingent of left-wing sympathizers felt betrayed and preferred to vote for an almost unknown modest professor who emerged from the heart of the marginalized population.
Likewise, the important contingent that voted for the Frente Amplio (FA) candidate Verónica Mendoza in the 2016 elections this time voted for Pedro Castillo: as they did not feel identified with the proposals of the now candidate of Juntos por el Perú because they considered her to be of a pink or Leith social-democratic left. In spite of the fact that according to public opinion and the media, she was better known as a representative of the “sensible” left.
WHAT IS THE PERU LIBRE PARTY (PL)?
The Peru Libre party was founded by the prestigious doctor of neurology Vladimir Cerrón Rojas, who studied at the Higher Institute of Medical Sciences, today the University of Medical Sciences of Camagüey, Cuba, and is currently the secretary general of the Peru Libre party. Initially emerged as a regional movement with the name of Peru Libertario in 1912, participated in several electoral processes in the Junin Region, later changed the name to Peru Libre National Political Party, it is generally known as Peru Libre (PL).
Vladimir Cerron’s leadership gained notoriety at the national level since 2012, he was elected twice governor of the Junin Region, he participated in several meetings with the other forces of the Peruvian left in an attempt to unite in a single front, but it was not possible. Therefore, his party decided to present Professor Pedro Castillo as candidate for the presidency and he is running for the second vice-presidency.
Political ideology and program of Peru Libre, is considered openly Marxist-Leninist-Mariateguist and internationalist, in this sense proposes the recovery of the role of the State as regulator to counteract the neoliberal dictatorship, regarding the economic model proposes Popular Economy with Market, also to recover the properties of the nation that were privatized as mining, hydrocarbons, and the main services, health, education, housing and other services are in charge of the State: but in order to execute the changes he clearly proposes the convocation of the Constituent Assembly, to elaborate the new constitution according to the interests of the great majorities. The program is clearly explained in the document Ideology and Program of the National Political Party Peru Libre.
WHO IS KEIKO FUJIMORI?
The candidate Keiko Fujimori is heir to the political legacy of her father Alberto Fujimori, president of Peru from 1990 to 2000, and is not known to have had any trajectory of her own personal effort. In summary, based on the publications of the Peruvian press, the following can be mentioned:
- Her father, the president, after taking office, appointed her first lady, replacing her mother Susana Higuchi who denounced the president’s family for trafficking of donations from Japan: President Fujimori removed her from her position as first lady, had her tortured, corroborated by the same affected person: Keiko did not defend her mother, preferring to ally herself with her father and exercised the function of first lady.
- Then sent to study in the United States and financed with public money confirmed by the main advisor and Intelligence Service Vladimiro Montesinos who is currently serving prison for crimes of corruption and money laundering.
- Upon returning from the United States because her father was sentenced to 25 years in prison for crimes against humanity, Keiko Fujimori is proposed as a candidate for congresswoman by the Fujimori clan that formed the Popular Force party and was elected.
- In the 2011 elections, she ran for the presidency for Fuerza Popular and lost, then in the 2016 elections she competed in the second round and also lost against Pedro Pablo Kuczinski.
- But having obtained an absolute majority in the National Congress in the 2016 elections: she governed from the legislative branch: it led to the political crisis, they dedicated themselves to shielding all the corrupt members of Popular Force entrenched in the Judiciary, Constitutional Court, prosecutors, Comptroller’s Office and other State bodies and the press, etc.
- Keiko Fujimori has used the Congress to shield herself.
- She promoted a confrontation between two powers: the Executive headed by President Pedro Pablo and the Legislative headed by Keiko Fujimori, it was a fight between two blocks, both neoliberal and corrupt. Corrupt were two mafia cartels: President Kuczinski resigned for corruption and replaced by Vice President Martin Vizcarra also was corrupt and he dissolved the Congress: it was a hard blow to Fuerza Popular and Keiko Fujimori.
- But there is an incorruptible prosecutor who has been investigating Keiko Fujimori for more than two years and has stood firm and has twice sent her to jail on charges of money laundering, having received bribes from businessmen, including a Brazilian transnational company, obstruction of the investigation: but she was released by the judiciary and the Constitutional Court.
- The trial continues, the prosecutor has presented a complete accusation of 15,000 pages for money laundering and for leading an organized crime organization, and has requested 30 years in prison for Keiko Fujimori.
- In this context, the candidate Keiko Fujimori is doing everything possible and with the full support of the neoliberal and corrupt right wing to win the elections in the second round on June 6: that is Keiko Fujimori.
SECOND ROUND: THE MOMENT OF TRUTH
- The second round has become an ideological, political and moral confrontation between Keiko Fujimori, candidate of the neo-fascist and corrupt right wing, and Professor Pedro Castillo, candidate of the Peruvian left wing.
- Keiko Fujimori and the monopolized press at her service have made a terrifying call to fight against “communism”, in order to instill fear.
- The media arsenal has already begun with force and the pack of so-called “political analysts or opinion makers” have been hired to reinforce the crusade to demolish the candidacy of Pedro Castillo.
- And, the international right wing, the media press and its spokesmen have started a campaign of demonization against the “danger of communism”.
- This is the case of the already known spokesman of the neoliberals, the Peruvian-Spanish novelist, Mario Vargas Llosa has called for voting for Keiko Fujimori after having branded her as corrupt in the 2011 and 2016 elections.
- Another weapon that the right wing is using is to accuse candidate Pedro Castillo of having links with the Shining Path despite having no evidence.
- But the right wing and its corrupt press do not say anything about the fact that Fujimorism headed by her father corrupted all levels of the State and that the main leaders and members of his party Fuerza Popular are in jail and another contingent are on trial awaiting sentences.
- Keiko Fujimori’s father, Alberto Fujimori, sentenced to 25 years for crimes against humanity, whom the candidate has promised to pardon if elected.
- If elected, Keiko Fujimori will impose the most radical continuation of the neoliberal model.
- The leadership of the armed forces through retired high-ranking officers have already made threats (coup) if the “communist” candidate is elected.
- The right wing with its arsenal of the media press has unleashed a campaign to pressure Pedro Castillo to retract his proposals that affect the economic powers, as well as those referring to the change of the current neoliberal constitution.
If the Peruvian people make the mistake of electing Keiko Fujimori as president, the people’s fight against corruption will have been in vain: the first thing she will do is to pardon her father and the other corrupt members of her party who are in jail and she will armor herself to save herself from the 30-year prison sentence requested by the public prosecutor.
But if Pedro Castillo is elected in the second round: Keiko Fujimori and her accomplices, as well as the corrupt governors on trial, will go to jail.
If Pedro Castillo wins, it would be a progressive government to promote the changes he has promised to the Peruvian people.
On June 6, the people will decide for a neoliberal and corrupt continuist government or for a change of policies based on the interests of the great majority of the victims of neoliberalism.
–Valentín Pacho is a former general secretary of the General Confederation of Peruvian Workers CGTP and current vice-president of the World Federation of Trade Unions (la Federación Sindical Mundial) and former senator of the Republic 1985-1990.
This article first appeared in the online journal Labor Today.