A socially conservative, economic radical has taken over as Peru’s president following a bitter election campaign. Pedro Castillo, a farmer and former school teacher, defeated Keiko Fujimori, daughter of jailed former president Alberto Fujimori.
There is no doubt the new Peruvian president is causing anguish amongst the wealthy, particularly the country’s large copper mining interests — Peru is the world’s second-largest producer of the metal — are fearful of plans to increase taxes to pay for welfare reforms.
On the other hand, Castillo is a staunch social conservative and in favor of the death penalty. Positions bound to agitate some of his more fervent radical supporters.
Excerpted from Deutsche Welle 7.28.2021
Former teacher Pedro Castillo officially became Peru’s new president on Wednesday.
The new president will have to deal with a fragmented Congress where he will likely have a difficult time passing some of his more radical reforms, including plans to rewrite the constitution. He will also have to deal with the far-left wing of his Free Peru party, led by Marxist neurosurgeon Vladimir Cerron.
“Castillo needs to unite the hard core of his party, but he has to do it without destroying the image the people have of him, which is that he is against radicalism,” Jeffrey Radzinsky, a Lima-based governance expert, told Reuters.
He is socially conservative, opposing gay marriage, abortion and euthanasia. He has also proposed withdrawing from the American Convention on Human Rights so that Peru can reintroduce the death penalty.
The 51-year-old son of peasant farmers was sworn in inside the Peruvian Congress.
“I swear by God, by my family, by the peasants, by the Indigenous peoples, by the ronderos [peasant patrols], fishers, professionals, children, adolescents, that I will exercise the office of President of the Republic,” Castillo said.
“I swear by the people of Peru for a country without corruption and for a new constitution.”
Castillo won the June 6 election with a slim majority of just 44,000 votes.
He is set to lead a country that was split in half by the polarized election and that is battling one of the world’s deadliest coronavirus outbreaks.
The election of Castillo has shaken up the Peruvian political establishment. The Andean country’s large copper mining interests — Peru is the world’s second-largest producer of the metal — are fearful of plans to increase taxes to pay for welfare reforms.
The inauguration coincides with Peru’s 200-year anniversary of independence from Spain. King Felipe VI of Spain, along with the presidents of Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Ecuador, were in Lima to mark the occasion.
Castillo’s electoral win was only finally confirmed last week. His rival in the final round of voting was right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori, daughter of jailed former president Alberto Fujimori.
Keiko is also facing corruption charges that could land her in jail. She contested the results of the election, claiming fraud on Castillo’s part.
Top photo: Peruvian President Pedro Castillo at his swearing in ceremony