Yesterday, Peruvian citizens went to the voting stations to elect their new president. This was actually the second round of voting. The main choices in the first round consisted of several centrist nominees, and two more extreme choices – on the right, Keiko Fujimori, daughter of imprisoned ex-President Alberto Fujimori; on the left, Ollanta Humala, a man who narrowly lost the election five years ago because of fears over his ties to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
In the first round, the three centrist nominees canceled each other out. If any one of them had dropped out of the race to support another, we’d be looking at a completely different situation right now.
Instead, we’ll be welcoming in President Humala come July 28th.
Throughout the elections, Humala swore that he no longer followed the “Chavista” form of government; that instead, he now believed in a form of socialism popularized by former Brazilian President Luis Lula de Silva.
If Humala has been telling the truth, and makes changes in Peru based on a Lula-style of government, it could be very good for Peru. For too long, there’s been a very wide divide in this country between the “Haves” and the “Have-nots”. The economy has been growing wildly over the last five years, but very little of the money is trickling out of Lima or into the pockets of the poor.
To paraphrase an acquaintance, you can see it best in construction, where companies purchase million dollar plots of land to build $400K apartments – but pay the construction workers 50 soles a day to do the work (about $17). The wealthy continue to make more money on the backs of the poor; is it any surprise that poor – who make up the vast majority of the population – are going to vote for someone who says he’ll change that?
So – we shall see if Ollanta Humala will be true to his word and follow a truly socialist path – or if it was all just words to get elected, and his real plan is to rule as a dictator in the style of Hugo Chavez.
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