Leftist school teacher Pedro Castillo appointed Peru's next president

Pedro Castillo in April 2021 surprised many by taking the lead in the race to become Peru's fifth president in three years, edging out 17 other candidates - Copyright AFP/File Sajjad HUSSAIN

Pedro Castillo, a leftist schoolteacher, was sworn in as Peru's president-elect on Monday, six weeks after a divisive election in which his right-wing opponent, Keiko Fujimori, claimed electoral fraud, delaying the results.

Fujimori, a 51-year-old trade unionist, now faces an impending corruption trial as a result of his triumph.

Castillo addressed hundreds of supporters gathered at the offices of his Peru Libre (Free Peru) party in Lima, saying, "On behalf of my family, I would like to salute the electoral authorities... as well as the political parties that have taken part in this democratic celebration."

After Jorge Luis Salas, the chairman of the JNE elections panel, confirmed Castillo's victory in a brief virtual ceremony, he declared from the balcony, "Dear compatriots, I bring here an open heart for each and every one of you."

Hundreds of people who had gathered for weeks outside the JNE headquarters to support Castillo erupted in joy at the announcement.

“Finally, we have a president,” Rosa Huaman, a 27-year-old Castillo fan in the crowd, remarked. ”

The JNE confirmed the ONPE elections body's vote tally, which gave Castillo 50.12% of the vote, or 44,000 votes more than Fujimori, who had promised earlier Monday to respect the outcome "because it is required by the law and the constitution that I have sworn to defend."

Despite the fact that observers from the Organization of American States, the United States, and the European Union declared the vote free and fair, Fujimori claimed fraud.

– Nationalization and criminality –

Fujimori faces a 30-year prison sentence if convicted of receiving money from the scandal-plagued Brazilian construction company Odebrecht to fund failed presidential campaigns in 2011 and 2016.

If Fujimori had been elected president before the conclusion of her term, the prosecution against her would have been put on hold.

On July 28, the new president will be sworn in.

Castillo stunned many when he took the lead in the contest to become Peru's fifth president in three years in April, defeating 17 other contenders.

In the runoff, he faced Fujimori, who campaigned on promises to improve the lives of Peruvians suffering from a recession exacerbated by the pandemic, increased unemployment, and poverty.

Castillo has set a goal of producing a million jobs in a year and has stated that Peru's mineral and hydrocarbon wealth "must be nationalized."

Peru is a major copper, gold, silver, lead, and zinc producer, with mining accounting for 10% of national GDP and a fifth of corporate taxes.

Castillo has also pledged public investment to stimulate the economy through infrastructure projects and public procurement from small firms, as well as to “reduce imports that harm the national industry and peasantry.”

- President for the fifth time in three years –

Castillo has promised to remove illegal aliens who commit crimes in Peru, giving them "72 hours... to leave the country," according to one of his more controversial campaign promises.

The remark was seen as a threat to the hundreds of thousands of undocumented Venezuelan migrants who have come to the United States since 2017.

Until four years ago, when he organized a national strike that forced the then-government to accede to pay hike requests, the far-left trade unionist was mostly unknown.

He is a devout Catholic who opposes gay marriage, abortion, and euthanasia.

Castillo has advocated withdrawing Peru from the American Convention on Human Rights, or San Jose accord, in order to reinstate the death sentence as a deterrent to crime.

He's also suggested scrapping Peru's free-market-friendly constitution, which is a holdover from his opponent's father, ex-president Alberto Fujimori, who is currently doing time in prison for corruption and crimes against humanity.

Peruvians elected their sixth president in three years, following a succession of crises and corruption scandals that saw three different presidents take office in the same week last November.

Seven of the country's last ten presidents have been convicted of graft or are under investigation.

Publish : 2021-07-20 09:32:00

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