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“Anti-Fujimorismo” triumphant
Cecilia Remón
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For the second time now, the daughter of former dictator is defeated in presidential elections.

Neoliberal economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, of Peruanos Por el Kambio (PPK-Peruvians for the Change) party won the hotly disputed second round of the elections held on June 5 by a margin of just over 42,000 votes. Kuczynski bettered Keiko Fujimori Higuchi of Fuerza Popular (FP- Popular Force) party.

This is the second time that the candidate Fujimori Higuchi is defeated in a runoff. The first time it was against outgoing president Ollanta Humala in 2011.

According to the National Elections Office (ONPE), the entity responsible for organizing the elections, Kuczynski received 50.12 percent of the vote, while Fujimori Higuchi obtained 49.88 percent. In the first round that took place on Apr. 10, Fujimori Higuchi received 39.8 percent and Kuczynski 21 percent.

Fujimori Higuchi was the early favorite to win the presidency, according to the polls. After her defeat in 2011 she dedicated her time to travel throughout the country visiting the most remote and impoverished areas, those areas where the state does not reach. According to the voting intention polls before the elections, the highest numbers that were in her favor came from the C and D urban and rural social sectors of the population. However, claims of drug ties of members within her party clearly put the brakes on her surging campaign.

On May 15, the television program Cuarto Poder, transmitted by America Televisión, along with the US network Univision, broadcasted an interview with Jesús Vásquez, an informer for the Drug Enforcement Agengy (DEA), the US anti-drug agency, where he states that Joaquín Ramírez Gamarra, a congressman and General Secretary of the FP, “told me that Mrs. Fujimori gave him US$15 million for him to launder, and that he laundered the money through a chain of gas stations”.

Ojo Público, the digital media of investigative journalism, revealed two days later the inner workings of the DEA’s investigation, known as “Operation Untouchables: The Arévalo Drug Trafficking Organization” that involves  Miguel Arévalo Ramírez, also known as Eteco, and other members of the Ramírez Gamarra family, including Joaquín Ramírez Gamarra himself.

Ramírez Gamarra has never explained the source of his wealth. According to press reports he went from working as a bus fare collector to owning real estate properties in Peru and the United States, that he has not declared.

Corruption and drug-trafficking
Despite the allegations, Fujimori Higuchi staunchly defended and stood behind Ramírez Gamarra who is one of the mayor financial sources of her campaign. The congressman finally resigned from the General Secretariat of the FP, totally denying all accusations. Days later José Chlimper, vice-presidential candidate for the party, handed a tampered audio recording to a program of Panamericana Televisión, attempting to discredit Vásquez, where he denies what he stated in the first interview. The fallout of this was the cancellation of the program and the resignation of some executives of the television station.

In addition to the alleged links of Ramírez Gamarra to drug trafficking, congresswoman Rosa Mavila revealed that among the 73 congressmen elected by the FP, of a total of 130, at least 11 of them were being investigated for money laundering.

Faced with the danger it would mean if Peru became a narco-state, the group “No to Keiko” called for a new protest march against Fujimori for May 31. The first one, held on Apr. 5, before the first round, drew more than 50,000 people who marched through the streets of Lima.

Jimena Sánchez, of the No to Keiko group, told Latinamerica Press that this civic group, made up of people of between 23 and 45 years old, of different political persuasions and professions, “was formed in 2009 with the aim that the Fujimorismo does not govern Peru again. We have been a group since then that fights Fujimorismo and has managed to prevent Keiko Fujimori from becoming president both in 2011 and 2016. There are 12 people who are actively handling the social networks.”

She stressed that they do not have an ideological definition. “There are people in the group who voted for different candidates in the first round. These are people of all political trends. What unites us is our defense of democracy and our fight against the Fujimorismo considering it harmful to our country and because of its corrupt past and present and for violating human rights.”

Up until a week before the election, Fujimori Higuchi continued as the favorite to win the election with a difference of up to six points with Kuczynski. In addition to the allegations of links of the FP with drug trafficking, the good performance of Kuczynski in the debate between the two candidates held on May 29, the massive “No to Keiko” march and the support of Verónika Mendoza, the presidential candidate of the leftist Frente Amplio (Broad Front) who came in third place in the first round with 18.8 percent of the vote, flipped the electoral competition.

Polls of four polling companies released on June 3 to the foreign press — publication of opinion polls a week before the elections is forbidden in Peru —, revealed that Kuczynski had 51 percent of voting intentions, but insisted that the figure was considered a technical draw.

One of the big questions is the reason behind the support that Fujimori Higuchi has received in the polls, given that her father Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) has been incarcerated since 2007 serving a sentence of 25 years in prison for corruption and human rights violations.

Congresswoman Luz Salgado told Latinamerica Press in August 2015 that “Fuerza Popular is a renewal of Fujimorismo. Keiko believes that we must learn from our mistakes. Alberto Fujimori’s legacy is not the only asset of Keiko. We have worked on the renewal of schemes: young politicians, representatives of their regions, but also experienced.”

Although Fujimori Higuchi initially tried to distance herself from her father, her voters have Alberto Fujimori as a referent.

Flavio Paucar, news vendor in the bourgeois Lima district of Miraflores, defends the decade of the Fujimori government, noting that “he defeated terrorism and recovered the economy.” His vote for Fujimori Higuchi is because “the daughter will always do what her father tells her” and because “drug trafficking is everywhere,” he told Latinamerica Press.

Meanwhile, the No to Keiko group says that it will continue fighting “Fujimorismo to keep them from entering the race in 2021 and from competing again in a second round. We will work on this in the next five years.” —Latinamerica Press.


President-elect Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (center), celebrating his victory with his two Vice Presidents Martín Vizcarra and Mercedes Aráoz. / PPK-Pedro Pablo Kuczynski
Latinamerica Press / Noticias Aliadas
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