The World Today for August 03, 2021



Hats, White and Black

Peruvians living in the Andean town of Niño Jesús de Huarapite feel as if nobody in the capital of Lima is in their corner. Many remember how Peruvian troops and US-trained counterterrorism forces perpetrated a massacre in the town to quash a Maoist insurgency in the 1980s. Today, with little economic development since then, most survive on a meager diet of potatoes harvested from the hills.

“The resentment here is that the whole world eats well, and we do not, and nobody remembers us,” resident Liez Quispe told the Washington Post.

It’s no wonder that the vast majority of people of Niño Jesús de Huarapite voted for Pedro Castillo, the leftist who was recently declared the winner of a June 6 runoff election, the BBC reported. The cowboy hat-wearing Castillo became a public figure in the South American country after he led a successful teachers’ strike in 2017. On the campaign trail, he vowed to nationalize the country’s mining and hydrocarbon sectors as part of a plan to create 1 million new jobs. Peru is the second-largest copper producer in the world. But poverty has increased significantly since the pandemic hit and more than one-third of Peruvians struggle to eat.

“I ask for effort and sacrifice in the struggle to make this a just and sovereign country,” he said after he was declared the winner, according to the Guardian.

Castillo defeated Keiko Fujimori, a conservative candidate who suggested that Castillo wanted to transform Peru into a mismanaged, economically struggling communist country like Cuba or Venezuela, the Financial Times explained. She is the daughter of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, who is currently serving a 25-year sentence for corruption and human rights abuses.

His background is decidedly humbler. A former teacher born into a family of peasant farmers, he lives in a “humble two-story, adobe home” in a poor Andean town, the Associated Press wrote. His wife intends to bring vegetables they grow themselves and cheese made from their cows’ milk to Lima, the capital.

The new president faces structural political challenges. Competition between the president and lawmakers, corruption scandals and other crises have led to Peru having four presidents in the last five years. An elite backlash against Castillo’s leftist program and anti-democratic elements that he espoused before the election suggest Peruvian democracy is under threat, Foreign Policy magazine argued.

For example, a coalition of Castillo’s opponents have taken control of Peru’s Congress after officials rejected the candidacies of members of Castillo’s political party, Free Peru, Reuters wrote. Gridlock could ensue. But, according to Al Jazeera, Castillo has pledged to run a “pluralistic” government in a bid to reduce ideological tensions.

If that’s what it takes to help Liez Quispe, so be it.

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