By Satyaki Chakraborty
The Latin American countries are in the midst of a major political turmoil as in Peru, the rightists led by the defeated candidate Ms. Fujimori have launched a vigorous campaign to nullify the results of the presidential elections held last month in which the leftwing candidate Pedro Castillo won by 44,000 votes. The Peruvian army sources are hinting that they do not like the left and that has led to apprehensions that the conservative army leadership may stage a coup on the lines of Bolivia held in 2019.
Peru was rocked by a national strike on Wednesday as thousands of workers walked out demanding that Pedro Castillo be formally announced as president-elect, nearly three weeks after his election victory was declared. The Workers’ General Confederation and Mr Castillo’s Free Peru party called the action amid growing fears of a Bolivian-style coup to prevent the self-declared Marxist-Leninist from taking up the post.
The National Election Jury (JNE) has not yet officially declared Mr Castillo as the Andean country’s president-elect, despite announcing the result of the poll putting him ahead of rival Keiko Fujimori by about 44,000 votes. It insists that it has to deal with a slew of legal challenges submitted by Ms Fujimori, the daughter of disgraced former president Alberto Fujimori who is serving a 25-year jail sentence on corruption charges. She has made unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud, demanding that some 200,000 votes are annulled, making her the winner of the June 6 election. Peru’s Front for Democracy & Governance (FDG) supported Wednesday’s peaceful action. It said that while some provinces of the country held “a massive strike,” others held protests and sit-ins.
Mr Castillo has called on the JNE “to respect the popular will” of the people and has already changed his social media profiles to read “president-elect of Peru.” He has rejected the claims of fraud as unfounded, and election observers, including the Washington-based Organisation of American States, have judged the process to be free, fair and transparent, with no evidence of irregularities. The leftist leader and his supporters insist that the slurs are the result of political manoeuvring by Peru’s wealthy elite, who fear losing influence in the country.
Already reports have appeared in media that some drug lords who got benefitted during the right wing regimes are putting pressure on both army and the election body to stand by the defeated Fujimori and nullify the election of Castillo. The president elect has however alerted his supporters to be ready for further actions on the streets if the situation deteriorates and he is not allowed to take oath on July 28 as scheduled.
The leaders of other leftwing states in Latin America like Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela along with Mexico have extended support to Castillo and have warned that any action to nullify the people’s mandate in Peru, will be resisted by the people. Castillo has also appealed to the army to honour the verdict and the norms of democracy.
The U.S administration is worried at the left victory in Peru but so far, no talk of direct intervention has been made though the Pentagon has close relationship with the Peruvian army. The US business interests in Peru are divided. Some want active intervention in favour of Fujimori, while others favour taking independent position without active involvement. They like to wait till July 28 by which time, the legal issues are likely to be settled. (IPA Service)