Either Way, Peru’s Election Is Bad News for Anti-Graft Efforts

Either Way, Peru’s Election Is Bad News for Anti-Graft Efforts
Presidential candidates Pedro Castillo, left, and Keiko Fujimori at an event in Lima, Peru, May 17, 2021 (AP photo by Martin Mejia).

The two candidates facing off in Peru’s upcoming presidential run-off election, Keiko Fujimori and Pedro Castillo, couldn’t be further apart ideologically. Castillo, who belongs to a party that describes itself as Marxist, is calling for a radical overhaul of Peru’s economic and constitutional systems. Fujimori, on the other hand, wants to deepen the free-market model installed under the authoritarian presidency of her father, Alberto Fujimori, in the 1990s.

But beyond the obvious differences, the candidates share one overlooked similarity: Both owe big debts to political mentors currently in jail for corruption, whom they are eager to shield from justice. Whoever prevails in the June 6 polls, it could spell disaster for Peru’s justice system, which over the past decade has made greater strides in investigating politicians for corruption than any country in the Western Hemisphere besides Brazil.

Castillo and Fujimori emerged as the unlikely frontrunners for Peru’s presidency after a first-round vote in April that saw 18 candidates face off. Despite fierce electoral competition among a range of alternatives, the two candidates who made it to the second-round runoff are intensely disliked by most Peruvians.

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