Peru: Fujimori cries out electoral fraud – unleashes a torrent of racism | Peru
The prospect of the illiterate Andean peasant son becoming president as his rival cries out for fraud has shaken Peru’s entrenched class system and fragile democracy, unleashing a torrent of racism in the bicentennial year of the country’s independence. .
With 100% of the official vote counted, leftist Pedro Castillo had 50.12% – and the advantage of around 44,000 votes over far-right rival Keiko Fujimori. But Fujimori claimed responsibility for the fraud, contesting around 500,000 votes, calling for the overturning of half and forcing Peru’s electoral council officials to reconsider the ballots – despite the lack of evidence of wrongdoing.
Two weeks after the election, which domestic and international observers described as transparent, the position of Keiko Fujimori – the daughter of jailed autocrat Alberto Fujimori of the 1990s – emboldened the far right, which vowed not to accept the election results.
In a move that illustrates the asymmetrical rules of the game, Fujimori recruited Lima’s most expensive law firms to overturn 200,000 votes, almost all from poor Andean regions that voted overwhelmingly for Castillo.
“The tension has reached a breaking point,” said José Ragas, Peruvian historian at the Catholic University of Chile. “Lima’s elite aren’t just trying to hold onto power – it’s not just that they don’t want to recognize Pedro Castillo’s victory – but they’re trying to overturn the rural vote.”
The election sparked expressions of racism that went beyond discrimination against Alberto Fujimori, of Japanese descent, who took office in 1990 and Alejandro Toledo, a US-trained Andean who ruled Peru from 2001 to 2006.
In an ugly but not unusual case, the online news site Sudaca posted a private text message between middle-class white men in Lima discussing how highlanders should ‘starve’ and calling for the return of Alberto Fujimori’s alleged forced sterilizations which primarily targeted indigenous women .
Other social media memes characterized Castillo as a donkey or said the Andeans were too ignorant to be allowed to vote. They echo the old “racist and classist attitudes rooted in national and social debate,” Ragas said. But social media gave those comments a much wider audience, he said.
Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has denounced such expressions of racial hatred. “I reject hate speech and discrimination in all its forms because it is unacceptable in any democratic society,” she said in a statement last week, as she called on Peruvians to accept the outcome of the elections.
As Peruvian Election Commission officials work overtime to re-inspect disputed ballots, social media and partisan news broadcasters have helped spread false information stoking the specter of a totalitarian regime, violence and even massive expropriations if Castillo is declared the winner amid rumbles of coup plots among the far right.
Apparently inspired by Donald Trump’s refusal to accept defeat in the US election, Fujimori led a series of marches against “fraud” by telling his supporters at a rally, “The elections will be reversed, dear friends.
The three-time presidential candidate has already spent more than a year in pre-trial detention, accused of receiving more than $ 17 million in illegal campaign funds and of being the head of a criminal organization, and could face a 30-year prison sentence if convicted. She denies the allegations.
Friday, the interim president of Peru Francisco sagasti called “unacceptable” a letter signed by nearly 100 retired military officers urging the armed forces not to recognize Castillo if he takes office. “They want to incite the top commanders of the army, navy and air force to violate the rule of law,” he said in a speech to the nation.
As tension – fueled by fake news – mounts, José Miguel Vivanco, Executive Director for the Americas, at Human Rights Watch, called on “all Peruvians – in particular candidates, civil servants and members of the security forces” to “respect the electoral results that the authorities announce”.