After several weeks of suspense, the leftist candidate Pedro Castillo was named the winner of the presidential election in Peru by the National Electoral Jury. He was facing Keiko Fujimori.
Left-wing candidate and new to politics Pedro Castillo was proclaimed the winner of the presidential election in Peru on July 19, a month and a half after the June 6 second round ballot in which he faced populist right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori. “I proclaim President of the Republic José Pedro Castillo Terrones”, declared the president of the National Electoral Jury (JNE), Jorge Luis Salas, during a brief virtual ceremony which ends weeks of suspense after a particularly tight ballot.
“I would like to greet the electoral authorities […] also salute the political parties that participated in this democratic celebration, ”said Pedro Castillo, shortly after the proclamation, in front of hundreds of supporters gathered at the headquarters of his Peru Libre party in Lima. “I have an open heart for each of you, there is no resentment in this chest,” said the former teacher from the balcony of the party headquarters, wearing his traditional white hat, typical of his native province of Cajamarca (North).
“I ask Mrs. Keiko Fujimori […] to ensure that the country moves forward, ”he added.
The electoral authority responsible for examining the appeals confirmed on July 19 the results delivered several weeks ago by the National Body of the Electoral Process (ONPE) which organized the poll. At the end of the counting of 100% of the ballots, the ONPE had given Pedro Castillo, 51, winner with 50.12% of the vote, against 49.87% to his rival, Keiko Fujimori, 46 years old.
According to the results updated by the JNE, Pedro Castillo wins with 44,263 votes ahead of the daughter of ex-president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000). Hundreds of supporters of the president-elect, who had been camping for weeks outside the JNE headquarters in central Lima, burst into joy as they sing and dance to traditional Peruvian rhythms. “We finally have a president!”, Rejoiced to AFP Rosa Huaman, 27, while the crowd chanted “We did it!”. “We had been waiting for 200 years for a teacher, an Andean, a ‘cholo’ (mestizo) to come to power and rule for everyone,” said Caledonio Ayala, 38, from the Huanuco region (center ).
Keiko Fujimori recognizes the validity of the results
Shortly before the announcement of the final result, Keiko Fujimori, who had insinuated in early July that she would not recognize the victory of her competitor, did an about-face. “I announce that by fulfilling my commitments, my commitment to all Peruvians […] towards the international community, I am going to recognize the results because it is what the law and the Constitution require, which I have sworn to defend, ”she declared at a press conference. “I call on Peruvians not to give up and to implement democratic defense,” she added.
The daughter of Alberto Fujimori (who is serving a 25-year prison sentence for corruption and crimes against humanity) had hitherto multiplied the accusations of “fraud” against her opponent and demanded the invalidation of several tens of thousands of votes.
Targeted by an investigation for alleged bribes during her presidential campaigns of 2011 and 2016, where she had already failed in the second round, she carried out 16 months of preventive detention and, lacking presidential immunity, now risks 30 years in prison. Contrary to his accusations, the observation mission of the Organization of American States (OAS), the United States and the European Union had deemed the ballot free and transparent.
At the beginning of March, thirty years of imprisonment were required against the leader of Fuerza popular, the party created by her father.
“She will have to assess whether she is withdrawing” from politics, political analyst Augusto Alvarez, a daily columnist, told AFP La República. The date of the trial of the former candidate, who has already spent 16 months in pre-trial detention, should be known in the coming weeks, judicial sources said. In addition to Keiko Fujimori, her husband, of American nationality, Mark Vito Villanella, is also suspected in this case where the Brazilian construction giant admitted to having paid bribes to dozens of Latin American leaders. Twenty-two years in prison were required against him.
The election of Pedro Castillo recognized by the United States and Venezuela
The prosecutor’s office notably obtained at the end of 2019 the confession of a former Odebrecht executive, Luiz Eduardo da Rocha Soares, relating to a bribe of one million dollars to pay for the Fuerza popular campaign in 2011 At the end of 28 months of investigation, 41 other people were indicted for alleged offenses of “organized crime, money laundering, obstruction of justice, false declaration”.
The prosecutor’s office has also called for the dissolution of Fuerza popular, which won 24 out of 130 seats in the parliament at the start of April, which will take office on July 28. If Keiko Fujimori is condemned, Fujimorism, this mixture of authoritarian populism, societal conservatism and economic liberalism, risks big as the far right has entered parliament as the third political force in the country. With the presidential defeat, “I fear that Fujimorism is disintegrating,” said Augusto Alvarez.
“We value our deep ties (with Peru) and are impatient to strengthen them with the elected president Pedro Castillo”, reacted on the evening of July 19 the Embassy of the United States in Lima. For its part, the Venezuelan government celebrated the “indisputable” election of Pedro Castillo and expressed its wish to “develop a bilateral relationship of cooperation”, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Pedro Castillo and Keiko Fujimori were the surprise winners on April 11 of an undecided first round with 18 contenders. Released from anonymity in 2017 thanks to a strike movement by teachers of which he had led, the leader of the left-wing minority party Peru Libre proposed during the campaign a series of nationalizations and the end of certain imports. to strengthen local industry. Keiko Fujimori and his followers waved the red rag, accusing him of leading the country to ruin and dictatorship. Pedro Castillo will take office on July 28, the day the term of interim president Francisco Sagasti expires.