Peruvians will choose on Sunday between two populist presidential options, but opposed in ideology, which put into debate the benefits of the economic system affected by COVID-19.
The leftist Pedro Castillo and the rightist Keiko Fujimori are tied according to all the polls. Both promise to vaccinate the entire population against the new coronavirus and are conservative on social issues. They oppose abortion and same-sex marriage.
The battle lies in the economic model. The pandemic shook Peru, which boasted of being the regional economic star due to its good macroeconomic data in 20 years, but did not notice the labor informality greater than 70% and its terrible public services in health and education.
The country has spent almost three decades of free market friendly governments without state intervention in the business sector due to a Constitution written in 1993 under the government of the father of the candidate Fujimori, the now imprisoned former president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), who meets Convictions for corruption and his responsibility in the murder of 25 Peruvians in his administration.
Keiko Fujimori seeks to maintain the same system, while Castillo hopes to rewrite the Constitution to modify the economic system and achieve more income for education and health with the participation of the State in the extraction of natural resources such as mining, oil and gas.
“Peru is a case of success in economic growth, but, at the same time, of unsuccessful social and inclusive growth,” Santiago Levy, former vice president of sectors and knowledge of the Inter-American Bank of Finance, told the capital newspaper El Comercio.
The virus caused 10 million poor people who live on less than three dollars a day, tens of thousands of businesses went bankrupt and there are more than 185,000 deaths, a figure that almost triples the victims of the armed conflict between the Shining Path terrorist group and those in uniform between 1980 -2000.
Fujimori’s daughter also promises $ 2,500 to each family with at least one death from COVID-19. It assures that it will distribute 40% of a tax for the extraction of minerals, oil or gas to families who live near those extractive areas.
Castillo also offers to renegotiate contracts with multinationals that extract minerals, gas and oil in search of more state revenue. It also ensures that it will collect debts from the treasury of powerful business groups totaling more than 2.4 billion dollars.
The interim president, Francisco Sagasti, asked Castillo and Fujimori on Friday to “scrupulously respect the will of the Peruvian people” after the elections and affirmed that as soon as the electoral court publishes the results “it will summon whoever the popular vote has chosen.”
Fujimori, on whom the prosecution requests 30 years in prison for alleged money laundering, receives support from the local economic elite, as well as politicians from other countries, including the Venezuelan opponent Leopoldo López, the former Colombian president Andrés Pastrana and the former president Bolivian Jorge Quiroga.
For his part, the leftist professor has endorsements from the former presidents of Bolivia, Evo Morales, and the former president of Uruguay, José Mujica. Much of the poor also support it.
According to the electoral law, whoever accumulates the most votes will win and will start his government on July 28 when he receives power from the current president Sagasti.