From Lima

The last chapter of the historic election won by the left in Peru is made up of suspicious maneuvers by electoral justice to favor the annulment of votes against the virtual president-elect Pedro Castillo, allegations of fraud due to that unusual decision, and setbacks in those maneuvers. The right seeks to dirty and ignore, and this Friday the National Elections Jury, made up of four members, decided to extend the legal deadline by two days to present requests for the nullity of votes already counted. It is the ultimate strategy of Fujimori to try to reverse the result by massively nullifying Castillo’s votes. The deadline expired on Wednesday, but Castillo’s Peru Libre party reacted quickly. They came out to denounce the illegality of this extension of the term and to denounce an intention of fraud in that suspicious decision of the Jury, and called on their voters to mobilize in defense of the votes that give victory to the candidate of the left. Shortly after, the jury backed down and annulled the extension of the term, which was in favor of the intention of the right-wing Keiko Fujimori to win the election at the table by annulling her rival’s votes.

Castillo wins by 60,000 votes, 50.17 against 49.83 percent for the daughter of the imprisoned former dictator Alberto Fujimori. Fujimorism is betting on the undemocratic maneuver of massively nullifying Castillo’s votes to twist that result. Last Wednesday, Keiko, when the vote count already assured his defeat, announced, at the edge of the legal deadline to do so, that they would present requests to annul 200 thousand votes from rural areas where Castillo won widely. The arguments they gave to present those nullities do not stand. A good part of those requests arrived after the legal deadline. That is why they needed the extension of the term, which the Jury gave them, but later revoked. The local electoral juries that have been reviewing these requests for nullification of votes have already rejected several due to the lack of arguments. Fujimori announced that it will appeal to the jury, which will prolong a final decision for several days.

Fujimori sympathizers have demonstrated in a threatening tone in front of the house of the president of the entity, the magistrate Jorge Luis Salas. They have also been doing it before the local electoral body. Aggressive speeches are the keynote in these demonstrations. Castillo’s supporters also mobilized in front of the jury on Friday to defend the electoral result. A country divided in two. That of the elites and that of the popular sectors. One who lost and does not accept it, and maneuvers to change defeat into victory, the other who defends his triumph.

In its eagerness to dirty the elections that have given the leftist Castillo the winner – the challenges still need to be resolved for there to be official confirmation – the right also fired at President Francisco Sagasti. Sagasti’s centrist government has remained neutral, without intervening in the electoral process, but now it is claimed that it favored the candidate of the left. Another baseless accusation, such as the alleged fraud. A telephone conversation between President Sagasti and the Nobel Prize for Literature Mario Vargas Llosa triggered the accusations against the president.

The conversation between Sagasti and Vargas Llosa quickly leaked. A television program, furiously aligned with Keiko and a source of fake news, was the first to learn of this dialogue, and put together a narrative according to which the president would have asked the writer to speak with Keiko, whom the novelist supports, in order to tell him to accept his defeat. From that version, the political and media right-wing began to denounce an alleged interference by the president in the electoral process to favor Castillo.

Sagasti confirmed the call, but gave another version. He said that he had contacted the writer to ask him to speak with Keiko, his new ally and protégé, to help defuse the tense situation, lower polarization, but that he did not ask him to acknowledge his defeat. And he clarified that with the same purpose of calming things down, he also called people close to Castillo.

Keiko used this episode to throw more mud at the elections that she wants to mess up because she lost them. Unusually, the candidate who has had the support of all the economic power and the big media, victimized herself saying that the field was tilted against her. It seemed like a bad joke. Calls were heard to promote the removal of President Sagasti, but the coup movement quickly deflated.

Peasant and indigenous organizations rejected the Fujimori attempt to annul their votes and indicated that they declared themselves in a “state of alert.” They announced mobilizations if the votes that Fujimorism pretends to ignore, mainly peasants and indigenous people, are annulled.

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