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After a long wait, Peru has a new president-elect: NPR

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NPR’s Ailsa Chang speaks with Peruvian journalist Gustavo Gorriti about the outcome of the recent presidential elections and what they mean for the future of the country.



AILSA CHANG, HOST:

After 43 tense days since its second electoral round, Peru has a new elected president. Pedro Castillo has been declared the winner by a small margin of just 44,000 votes out of a total of 17 1/2 million cast. Castillo is the son of poor farmers and has vowed to reform Peru’s political and economic system to address inequality. His opponent, Keiko Fujimori, is the daughter of a former president and represents the country’s right-wing elite. Journalist Gustavo Gorriti has been following all this and is now joining us from Lima, Peru.

Welcome.

GUSTAVO GORRITI: It’s a pleasure.

CHANG: It’s a pleasure to have you with us. So why did it take more than a month to declare a winner for this election?

GORRITI: In part, from what you said, the margin was very small. And after that, there were many contests on the part of the Fujimori camp, and they essentially demanded a recount of the votes. They said there had been a fraud. And part of Donald Trump’s voice resonated with the kinds of arguments that were presented here.

CHANG: In your reports and in the reports of other journalists, when it comes to these claims of electoral fraud, has anyone found any basis for those claims by Fujimori?

GORRITI: Well, the Fujimori side held out to that point, but everyone else, including international observers, agreed that the elections have been fair, that they have faithfully represented the popular will.

CHANG: So tell us more about Castillo’s background, because he wasn’t a conventional presidential candidate for Peru, right?

GORRITI: No. In this very unconventional election, he is probably the most unconventional factor. He is a provincial primary school teacher. He has also been the leader of the National Union of Teachers, one of the most radical. He is a man who has not had any experience in government, but brings a high capacity for work to the task. Try to learn. And Castillo, at least, brought the kind of authenticity that was totally lacking in Fujimori’s case.

CHANG: Now what about Keiko Fujimori and her family? I know you’ve been following them for decades as a journalist. What’s next for the political reign of Fujimori and his family in Peru?

GORRITI: Well, as you probably know, Fujimori, just before leaving as a candidate, has been the subject of a massive money laundering judicial indictment. And the prosecutor has asked for 20 years in prison for her. So for her, the outlook at the moment is not very bright.

CHANG: And as Castillo begins to try to establish a new government, I mean, he has made big promises to the voters, like changing the Constitution to give the state more control over the economy. Tell me, do you think there is enough political will in Lima for him to really fulfill a promise like that?

GORRITI: You have no choice but to compromise. You need to build coalitions. And of course, if you decide to embark on a national campaign to fight the pandemic, to try to stop the pandemic as soon as possible, while beginning the economic recovery, that could give your regime a very strong start.

CHANG: That is the journalist Gustavo Gorriti. He is the director of IDL-Reporters (ph), an investigative journalism publication in Lima, Peru.

Thank you very much for joining us today.

GORRITI: It’s a pleasure.

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