After a tight race, with voters having to wait weeks for the results to be verified, despite cries of voter fraud, Pedro Castillo of the socialist Peru Libre party was declared the next Peruvian President. Pedro Castillo assumes office July 28th for a five-year term. It is the day the country celebrates the 200th anniversary of its independence from Spain.
Keiko Fujimori, the right-wing opponent, lost by 44,000 votes making it difficult for Mr. Castillo to govern the divided country. Fujimori, who claimed she had been cheated, may join her father in jail for previous charges of abuse of power and money laundering.
Mr. Castillo has been criticized for never holding elected office; he was an elementary school teacher and a union leader. As a presidential candidate he campaigned to restructure the country’s economy to address poverty and inequality. People aren’t clear how Castillo sees the world as he has expressed diverse opinions, sometimes in a threatening tone. Words matter, they kick up mental images that make a difference in people’s minds. How will he handle the great class and social divide in rural and urban communities? Castillo has not laid out a plan. There has been talk about drafting a new Constitution, an overhaul of the market economy, land reform, nationalizing the mining industry, boosting spending on health and education.
Mr. Castillo is an evangelical Christian who opposes legalized abortion and same sex marriage. Although there is no evidence of his being involved in graft, his party is facing charges of corruption. Vladimir Cerron, a former regional governor, one of his mentors and Peru Libre party’s leader, is serving a suspended sentence for influence peddling. Cerron is linked to Edwar Quiroga Vargas, the mystic Marxist-Leninist founder of Inkarri Islam.
Inkarri Islam is labeled an extremist group that believes there is a link between the Shiite Islamic narratives with those of Inca Indigenous people. Iran seems to be behind this group as it expands its influence in Latin America. Quiroga has traveled to Iran where he has met influential people. He identifies himself as a staunch supporter of Pedro Castillo, although keeping a low public profile. There are claims he is also a follower of the current political arm of Sendero Luminoso – the Shining Path terrorist group promoting Maoist ideological change.
All of this said, will people trust the new president? Will they have confidence he will not let the country collapse?
For more information on the geographical area where Pedro Castillo was born during the height of the internal conflict in Peru when guerilla and armed forces attacked the rural communities and did nothing to protect the rural poor, please take a look at my novel “In the Belly of the Horse“.
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