Progressive Caucus Welcomes Conclusion of Peru’s Democratic Elections and Prospects for Political Stability
Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Vice Chair At-Large Chuy García (IL-04), Chair Emeriti Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03) and Barbara Lee (CA-13), Whip Ilhan Omar (MN-05), and Executive Board Member At-Large Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) expressed their support for the democratic process in Peru and their hope that the results of a highly competitive election will be respected.
“We congratulate the people of Peru for carrying out a free and fair election, and we hope that it will help resolve some of the political instability, polarization, and the loss of public confidence in democratic institutions. Given the major social, economic and political challenges the country confronts, and the importance of strong U.S.-Peruvian relations, we express our support for a return to well-functioning democratic institutions in Peru,” said the lawmakers. “For that to happen, the first step is for everyone — both inside and outside of Peru — to respect the will of the electorate.”
The second and final round of Peru’s presidential election saw Pedro Castillo, a schoolteacher and union leader, face off against Keiko Fujimori, a rightwing former congresswoman and daughter of the incarcerated former authoritarian president Alberto Fujimori. With almost all the votes counted, Castillo has maintained a lead of about 60,000 votes and is widely recognized as the winner. Fujimori has now claimed fraud, but has offered little evidence, and international observers have not fond any.
In the past week, the government has announced that the number of deaths from COVID-19 had soared to 180,000 — three times higher than previously reported — putting Peru at or near the highest COVID-19 death rate in the world. The pandemic has also led Peru to suffer severe economic hardship, including an 11 percent decline in GDP in 2020, a near-doubling of unemployment to 15.3 percent, and a 27 percent increase in poverty.
Peruvians’ confidence in democratic institutions has also declined in recent years. In 2018, only 11 percent of the population responded that they were satisfied with the functioning of democracy — the lowest in Latin America after Brazil. Since 2016, three former presidents have been arrested for corruption, and a fourth committed suicide prior to arrest. Keiko Fujimori has been indicted on charges of corruption and money laundering, and had also pledged, if elected, to pardon her father, who was convicted of involvement in gross human rights violations, including murders and kidnappings.
In November of last year, President Martin Vizcarra was impeached by Peru’s Congress in a move that was widely considered an illegal congressional coup, leading to demonstrations that were met with violent repression for which another president is currently under investigation.