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Peru has a brand new president, its fourth in 5 years – who’s Pedro Castillo?


A 51-year-old farmer and trainer who wears a conventional Andean palm-straw hat takes workplace as Peru’s president on July 28, 2021, after a bitterly contested election.

Pedro Castillo was nearly unknown in nationwide politics when he eked out shock victories in each the primary and second rounds of the 2021 Peruvian presidential election. His right-wing opponent, Keiko Fujimori – daughter of former Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori – disputed the results of the June 7 runoff, alleging fraud. It took six weeks to verify Castillo’s win.

Castillo has by no means held nationwide workplace, and his leftist celebration doesn’t have a majority in Congress. Peru faces many struggles: Castillo is its fourth president in 5 years, and Peru has among the many world’s highest COVID-19 loss of life charges.

In an interview with The Dialog, the Peruvian political historian Cecilia Méndez Gastelumendi suggests Castillo’s unconventional background may work to his profit however says his “enemies on the suitable” are gunning for him.

This interview has been edited for size and readability.


Who’s Pedro Castillo?

Castillo has 4 identities. Collectively, they make him a really uncommon president.

Castillo is a peasant farmer from a northern area of Peru known as Cajamarca. There are essential gold mines there, however the persons are impoverished. Considered one of Castillo’s marketing campaign slogans is, “There shouldn’t be poor folks in a rich nation.”

As a candidate, he caught to his rural id. He didn’t begin dressing like a metropolis individual. He likes to be portrayed together with his hat and sandals, working the land.

Castillo’s second id is as a main college trainer. That is a vital function in poor elements of Peru, as a result of they don’t have sufficient colleges or lecturers. He’s additionally a union organizer. In 2017, he led a significant nationwide lecturers’ strike.

Lastly, Castillo is a “rondero” – a peasant patroller. Peasant patrols, or “rondas,” had been established in most rural areas of Peru within the Nineteen Eighties in the course of the Shining Path’s Marxist insurgency to guard communities from assaults by them.

This background makes Castillo very consultant of sure sectors of Peru that haven’t been acknowledged in its political system.

A Castillo supporter celebrates in downtown Lima on July 19, 2021.
Janine Costa / AFP through Getty Pictures

Is he a political outsider?

That’s simply the view from Lima. He isn’t an outsider the place he comes from.

Castillo was a longtime, hardcore member of a center-right political celebration known as Perú Posible. To run for president, Castillo left Perú Posible as a result of it had grow to be related to the corruption of former president Alejandro Toledo.

He registered to run with an previous Marxist-Leninist celebration known as Perú Libre, although he has no actual relationship with the celebration or its radical historical past. It was a strategic alliance.

What points did Castillo marketing campaign on?

Within the first stage of the race, when Castillo appeared to don’t have any likelihood in any respect to win the presidency, he campaigned as each a leftist and a conservative.

For instance, his marketing campaign slogan – “No poor folks in a rich nation” – focused inequality, and he promised to push for a brand new Structure to change Peru’s Fujimori dictatorship-era Structure. That could be a leftist precedence. He talked loads about “el pueblo” – “the folks” – and the way training and well being care must be a proper in Peru, not a enterprise. You already know COVID-19 hit Peru terribly.

However Castillo was revealed on video saying anti-LGBTQ issues, and he brazenly opposed homosexual marriage and abortion. He talked about foreigners coming to “steal” from Peruvians – presumably referring to Venezuelans. There are 1 million Venezuelan migrants in Peru, and it’s highly regarded to enchantment to anti-Venezuelan emotions.

He’s additionally a non secular individual. He’s Catholic, married to an evangelical.

So Castillo will not be a liberal – he’s a leftist with a social agenda.

Woman in cowboy hat walks on a street lined with police
A voter in Cajamarca, Castillo’s house area, on June 6, 2021.
Ernesto Benavides/AFP through Getty Pictures

However his agenda excludes some folks, like those that are homosexual or trans?

Early within the presidential race, that was the case. And many individuals on the left didn’t vote for Castillo within the first spherical of the election, due to his conservative facet. The left in Peru helps homosexual rights and abortion.

However Castillo moderated earlier than the second-round election. He needed to, if he wished to win.

When he made it to the presidential runoff, the mainstream left had to decide on between Castillo and Keiko Fujimori, who has been convicted of cash laundering. The left acquired behind Castillo – with some situations. He needed to adapt on LGBTQ points and abortion, and he did, exhibiting he’s a adept politician.

Which Pedro Castillo will probably be president?

Castillo can not impose a radical program. His celebration doesn’t have the bulk in Congress. So he has needed to make alliances. He has simply assembled a coalition of events from the middle and the liberal left, plus the unconventional left of his celebration. Even so, he doesn’t have a majority of votes in Congress.

Nonetheless, he’s feared in Lima. Castillo is the primary president in Peru’s fashionable historical past with none reference to skilled elites, navy elites or financial elites. These teams are used to having affect over politics – to creating cellphone calls to persuade the president of this or that. They worry they’ll’t do this with Castillo.

And proper now, he has a 53% approval fee. So he has that going for him.

Can Castillo implement his social agenda?

That relies on many components, however maybe two are most necessary.

First, inner tensions. Castillo’s celebration’s discourse is way extra radical than his. Its leaders are impressed by Cuba and revolution, not democracy. They may push Castillo towards extra inflexible positions. He has to reconcile this with the extra centrist legislators who’ve grow to be his congressional allies now.

The opposite drawback is Castillo’s enemies on the suitable. Because the marketing campaign confirmed, they’re useless set in opposition to him. Proper-wing media retailers portrayed him as a communist who would steal folks’s enterprise and financial savings, like what occurred in Cuba or Venezuela, and implied that he’ll convey Peru into chaos and poverty.

Fujimori passes through security holding a manila envelope in her hand
Keiko Fujimori contesting the Peruvian presidential election outcome on the Authorities Palace in Lima on June 28, 2021.
Klebher Vasquez/Anadolu Company through Getty Pictures

He gained anyway. He gained narrowly, by 44,000 votes, however he gained.

Now the suitable will virtually absolutely attempt to take away him from workplace.

There’s a imprecise Nineteenth-century clause within the Peruvian Structure that claims the presidency might be vacated for “ethical and bodily incapacity.” In recent times, politicians like Keiko Fujimori and her allies have been utilizing this clause to question any president they don’t like. That’s why Peru has had 4 presidents in 5 years.

The previous 5 years have proven that the explanation for vacating the workplace doesn’t matter. To take away a president in Peru, you simply want the votes in Congress.

[Understand what’s going on in Washington. Sign up for The Conversation’s Politics Weekly.]



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