Thursday, May 26

Peru Elections: The campaign against Pedro Castillo intensifies in Peru | International

Participants in the act organized this Saturday in Lima by Rafael López Aliaga against Pedro Castillo.
Participants in the act organized this Saturday in Lima by Rafael López Aliaga against Pedro Castillo.SEBASTIAN CASTANEDA / Reuters

The attacks against the radical candidate Pedro Castillo, leader in all the polls, intensify in the final stretch of the campaign in Peru. The other presidential hopeful, the conservative Keiko Fujimori, accused of money laundering and criminal organization, continues to gather support among the right-wing parties ahead of the June 6 ballot. The message that unites them is to save the country from communism that, they say, represents the teacher and trade unionist Castillo. “We are once again campaigning to defend the country,” said Richard Acuña, son of former presidential candidate César Acuña for Alianza por el Progreso. Hours later, the leader of the extreme right Rafael López Aliaga called in a ceremony in Lima for the death of communism and the leader of the left.


The businessman and former presidential candidate López Aliaga convened this Saturday a March for Peru under the slogan “let’s save democracy and our freedom” in support of Fujimori’s campaign. In the end, before hundreds of people, he exclaimed: “Death to communism”, “death!”, They answered him. And he urged again: “Death to Cerrón and Castillo”, to receive the echo again: “death!”. “With all the spokesmen and authorities a great campaign for democracy begins,” said former Congressman Acuña.

The sociologist and psychoanalyst Guillermo Nugent has assured EL PAÍS that López Aliaga’s proclamation against the rural teacher and union leader is “extremely serious.” “The last to invoke death as a political resource was (the terrorist group) Sendero Luminoso,” he stressed. Maoist subversion was responsible for 54% of the deaths in the armed conflict that broke out between 1980 and 2000 in Peru, which had a total balance of about 70,000 victims. Nugent has pointed out that anti-communism is a novelty in Peruvian political culture, “since the traditional resource to discredit the opponent is anti-terrorism.” “It is very worrying because this anti-communism can legitimize terrorist methods to attack people. The ‘no to communism’ is part of the tradition of Latin American dictatorships, it is a setback ”, added the researcher and university professor.

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Castillo is the depository of the intimidation campaigns of the Peruvian conservative sectors, as it was in the first round campaign and in 2016 the left-wing candidate Verónika Mendoza, whom he presented as a threat and was related to Chavismo. For two weeks, large advertising signs on the main avenues of Lima, Cusco and Arequipa have been displaying messages about Cuba and Venezuela alluding to Castillo. “Communism generates misery and poverty”, “Cuba: poverty, death, fear, despair”, “in Peru freedom is at stake, it is time to put your heart out for the homeland” are some of the messages of the posters of the company Punto Visual, which was hired by the Fujimori party Fuerza Popular in 2016. The company’s manager reported on Friday, at the request of the electoral authorities, that they have not been hired by any party and that they have voluntarily placed them.

Fujimori’s allies try to present themselves as the defenders of the institutions. Meanwhile, Castillo this week signed two commitments to respect the Constitution to call a referendum for a constituent assembly, and to strengthen the Constitutional Court and the Ombudsman.

The candidate Fujimori is running for the presidency for the third time, but this time she is accused of money laundering, criminal organization and obstruction of justice due to the millionaire contributions not declared to the authorities for her electoral campaigns of 2011 and 2016. The Prosecutor’s Office She maintains that she received funds from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht and the main Peruvian financial group and has requested 30 years in prison for her and sentences of fewer years for more than 30 people who participated in the financial scheme that deceived the banking and electoral system.

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His campaign, in addition to having the support of Peruvian politicians and intellectuals, such as the 2010 Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Mario Vargas Llosa, has the backing of almost all the mass media in the capital and large and medium-sized businesses. Kenji, a former congresswoman and younger brother of the candidate, recorded a video at the end of April with workers and businessmen at a construction site to “teach the dangers of communism” and called to vote for the leader of Fuerza Popular. The Federation of Civil Construction Workers denounced this and other similar acts as “political interference by Fujimori in construction works” and expressed its rejection of “acts of coercion that attempt to condition the workers’ political support for the candidate.”

Fifteen days ago, one of Peru’s leading publicists devised a strategy to call the vote for Fujimori, fueling fear of economic disaster should Castillo finally win. Last Friday, after a spot advertising contrary to Fujimori’s candidacy, journalists and supporters of the daughter of the autocrat Alberto Fujimori began a harassment campaign -with the slogan of Wanted– Against the adolescent protagonist of the ad. For its part, the Audiovisual and Cinematographic Workers Union expressed its concern that the worker of one of the main advertising agencies, Circus, asked to punish those who made the spot. “What publicist and filmmaker is behind such a well-made video? We will find out soon so that no one hires them again, ”he threatened on Facebook and Instagram.

The union of the department store Saga Falabella reported another similar incident at the end of April. According to their version, the employers would have commented that the closure of their establishments in Argentina had been due to the political situation, for which they warned that in Peru each person would be responsible for their decisions and their vote. The union advisor Job Rosales, who runs a union information platform, affirms that in recent weeks companies are accelerating collective layoffs and early retirements “because there is uncertainty about what may happen after the elections.” “There are more measures that violate the right to work and freedom of association, as a tacit warning. All the indicators of freedom of association are falling, ”he says.

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