Anahí Durand, Peruvian sociologist: "Castillo arrived without anyone seeing him"

If the teacher Pedro Castillo wins the elections this Sunday, it is very possible that many Peruvians will miss the phrase “Asu Mare”. It comes by deformation of “Ah, his mother.” A widely used colloquial expression that denotes surprise or admiration for something unexpected. What causes astonishment is the resilience of the candidate who he toured the villages on horseback and wearing his typical wide-brimmed hat. He chose a pencil as a symbol of his campaign and overcame the demolition strategy that the media subjected him to. To explain his chances of victory and what his possible government would be like, Page 12 interviewed Anahi Durand. The sociologist is recognized in the thought of José Carlos Mariátegui. She is an ally of the presidential professor and advisor to Verónika Mendoza. She was responsible for her government plan in Together for Peru and specializes in international relations.

– What would be the project of this Alliance between Castillo and Mendoza at the regional level and its relationship with multilateral organizations from South America?

– Our candidate is a commoner character, of union origin and we come from a more emerging left, with much more familiarity with Podemos, with other left forces such as the Frente Amplio in Uruguay. On This line I think we have been able to make the articulation between Verónica and Pedro, first agreeing on the need to put Peru in a de-ideological line of international relations. In the last five years this country has done what Trump said, from the Lima group to leaving Unasur. A Foreign Ministry policy absolutely submissive to what the United States said, which has eight military bases in Peru, most of which are administered by the DEA and which are renewed every year under the pretext of the fight against drug trafficking.

-The reality of Latin America indicates that there are no definitive hegemonies, that it is all transitory. Are we at a time like this, without a clear hegemony?

– Yes I think so. Let’s also say with this crisis that the pandemic brings, which is a stage of dispute and in the Peruvian case, the country was never aligned in the progressive field. Although Oyanta Humala arrived with that flag and with the photo of Lula and Evo, well, he quickly put on the neoliberal shirt. So we have not had a progressive moment that redistributed, democratized the country. Along these lines, the dispute has remained open. There was a consistent vote in favor of this possibility of change with Umala in 2011, with Verónika in 2016 and now Pedro Castillo has it. With that 19 percent it was enough to go to the second round by splitting the vote.

– Will the left win with the sum of votes from Castillo and Mendoza, which initially was 33% in the first round?

– I think there is still a large margin of uncertainty because there is an anti-Fujimori vote that opts for Pedro quickly and does not think twice. But there is another vote that is more critical, which also has an impact on the brutal campaign of no to communism, of expropriations … messages arrive from the banks every day. The media are aligned. So I think that nothing is said, although Pedro has a certain advantage on a regular basis, we have seen that there is also stagnation because every day there are a series of facts, lies, defamations, a dirty war.

– That anticommunism, do you think it was decisive in the growth of the expectation of votes for Fujimori?

– They had to look for a unifying concept of all these evils that they believe Pedro Castillo represents, from an expropriator and statist. But since Chavista no longer hit so much, they made communism an empty concept and put an empty signifier there. Then they distribute flyers where they say that this is communism: stealing your job, confiscating your pension funds, closing your business, in short … all the grossest ghosts there may be. As in Cuzco, where they say: “with communism there is no tourism” precisely in a city where tourism is the main engine. It’s very brutal, isn’t it?

– ¿The closest thing to that could be what happened in Brazil with Jair Bolsonaro in discursive terms?

– Yes I think so. Pedro Castillo arrived without anyone seeing him, almost in a pure state of anti-establishment, on horseback, wearing a hat, very peasant, very challenging of the entire Lima establishment. They were very focused thinking that Verónika was going to pass and they made a brutal campaign against him, but he happened and they don’t want him. We had not experienced this polarization and I think it resembles Bolsonaro in apocalyptic terms. Although it is strange, because Pedro Castillo is also an evangelist. In fact in his last meeting, if you see him there on his Facebook, he is very preacher, he kneels. He is a very popular person in that evangelical peasant world.

– Who is Pedro Castillo to explain it to the international community?

– It was also very difficult for us to register it, because those of us who come from militant partisan worlds believe that we speak other languages. Then we have gotten to know him in a more direct relationship between him and Verónika and I think he is definitely a popular leader. It is from a first generation that is professionalizing. His parents are uneducated and he is also very involved in the union world as a teacher in the rebellious teachers, not in the bureaucratized union and from there he becomes politicized in very pragmatic keys. In fact, he is very sincere in confessing that he did not expect this result, although he worked a lot and everything, but it surprised him. He is very genuinely popular, with this commoner reflex that makes him especially look at his immediate surroundings of teachers and peasants.

– Keiko Fujimori is by transitive character the father in all his dimension or does he have any nuance that differentiates him?

– I think that if she wanted to have a nuance it was in 2016, when she claimed that she was estranged from her father, who always warned her about Montesinos. From 2011 to 2016 she tried to maintain a profile more typical of a prepared, more technical woman. But for this campaign, he has merged with dad again. In other words, he again vindicates the coup of April 5. A good part of his surroundings are characters from the 90s such as the rancher Francisco Tudela who was Fujimori’s prime minister. Anyway, I think so, there is an authoritarian regression and a vindication of what his father was and the heavy hand. The Keiko who wanted to be different, who went to Harvard, who wanted to dress a little democratic, was left in 2016, when she obtained a majority in congress and ended up offering corruption scandals that still involve her. She is on trial for having received illicit money. I think now dad and daughter merged, the Fujimori clan.

– How did Mario Vargas Llosa play again in the electoral issue? Did you bring Keiko some beans?

– As for the popular vote, it does not add anything and its place abroad is already very clear. He did have a decisive role here in 2011 and 2016, but especially in 2011, when he gave Humala the come and appointed him ministers, but not now. He and his son were very active in favor of Keiko, but they also look bad because everyone knows that Mario Vargas Llosa was Fujimori’s enemy.

– In any case, is the role of the mainstream media more decisive??

– Very, very much. Now there is a single-chord concert in favor and desperate of Keiko Fujimori. It is a brutal thing, in networks, media, everything.

– ¿There was no certain ethnocentrism and racism in the campaign against Castillo?

– People around Keiko have said verbatim: “It is going to hurt the teacher to be in Lima because oxygen affects the mountain people.” There has been a very disparaging and racist component. In the first round, he got memes all the time about Speedy Gonzales because he wears hats and a series of things. I think that just brings him closer to people.

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