On June 5, Peruvians will hit the polls to elect a new President. The second round runoff will be decided by two candidates, Keiko Fujimori and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK). Both candidates qualified to the second round by obtaining forty percent (Keiko) and twenty percent (PPK) of the total vote.
Past Peruvian elections had been entangled in ferocious attacks. But this race was exceptional: Disqualification of candidates, confrontations, streets protests, defamation, insults, and a fiery antagonism among Peruvian voters. The 2016 presidential race will stand out as one of the most hate filled elections in Peruvian history.
The Final Race: Keiko Fujimori vs Pedro Pablo Kuczynski
Keiko Fujimori, 41, first ran for president in 2011. Keiko lost against now President Ollanta Humala by a short margin. During Humala’s mandate, Keiko has continuously spoken out against “Humala’s incompetence”.
In 2015, Keiko Fujimori announced her candidacy with ‘Fuerza Popular’ Party. A Columbia University graduate, Keiko Fujimori has sponsored free market policies and a conservative agenda. Her political views are not too different from those of her father, now jailed Ex-president Alberto Fujimori, who imposed neoliberal measures in Peru during his mandate.
For the coming runoff, Keiko has shifted her strategy. She now delivers a populist rhetoric to attract a center/center-left voting bloc. An apologist of former president Fujimori, Keiko has now distanced herself from his legacy. She promised not to grant him an amnesty if elected. Such strategic changes had boosted her popularity.
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, 77, seeks to seal a successful career with a presidential appointment. A veteran politician, Kuczynski has been a former Prime minister and a close ally to the U.S elite. He held a position in the World Bank and has been a member of conservative think tanks. His party “Peruanos por el Kambio” is pro-business, promising to draw twenty billion U.S dollars of foreign investment. After the second round, Kuczynski kept the same tactics: delivering mild attacks and relying on the support of the movement “Fujimori Never Again”.
Some of the Candidate’s StatementsImage Source: El Comercio
The agenda of both candidates are not too dissimilar. Yet, the heated debate has a greater issue. Some Peruvians believe that a probable victory by Keiko would vindicate her father’s regime. Certain Peruvian sectors consider this election as a unique chance to test Peruvian memory, morality, and dignity. Furthermore, many believe that Keiko would exert a strong hand as her father did in the past.
Let’s review the most heated statements of both Keiko Fujimori and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski .
Accusations of Corruption and Lack of Moral Consistency
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski endorsed Keiko Fujimori while she ran as a candidate for the 2011 presidential election. Keiko recently criticized PPK for his lack of consistency:
“Nicomedes Santa Cruz would say: “You have changed a lot, Pelona!” In 2011, you had no hesitance in backing my candidacy, thus ratifying my honesty and transparency. It’s shameful you are now discussing past issues”- Keiko Fujimori.
A few weeks ago two of Keiko’s allies, Joaquin Ramirez and Jose Chlimper, were recently charged with corruption. PPK stated this case to support Fujimori’s link with corruption.
“We must stop the candidates who are not transparent. We have seen it with Mr. Joaquin Ramirez and Jose Chlimper. This doesn’t bode well for the government of Mrs. Fujimori. You told me: You have changed a lot, Pelona. Well, I now tell you, “You have not changed, Pelona, you are still the same”- Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
PPK has emphasized the questionable legacy of Alberto Fujimori to convince voters that Keiko would follow her father’s footsteps.
“We want democracy. My opponent is a lethal threat to democracy, I believe we have to end that threat. Defend democracy through dialogue, not confrontation, that is what comes if our opponent wins.”- Pedro Pablo Kuczynski
“The presidential candidate is me. The one who is campaigning is me, not my father”- Keiko Fujimori.
Accusations of Keeping Dirty Money to Fund Personal Expenses
Some news sources have questioned how Keiko Fujimori was able to pay for her education at Columbia University. Keiko Fujimori has been unable to clearly explain what financial sources she used. One of the versions going around is that Keiko’s uncle covered part of her tuition. Another version holds that Ex-CIA agent Vladimiro Montesinos, Alberto Fujimori’s right-hand, allegedly covered the expenses.
“I paid for the education of my children, and my own education was not paid by my uncle. Keiko went to study in the United States and until today, there had been seven different versions trying to explain who exactly paid her tuition”- Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
“I have said before that when my parents reached the presidential palace, they had some money saved after years of working in the private sector. Then, my father asked a loan from his friend, Mr. Paucar. My father also borrowed a sum from his sister Rosa..”- Keiko Fujimori
Days later, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said:
“Chances are that the children of thieves are also thieves, like father like son. What kind of image will Peru project if they elect the daughter of someone who is still in prison for corruption?”- Pedro Pablo Kuczynski
Related Content: The 20 Biggest Peruvian Names Listed in The Panama Papers
Accusations of Cowardice and Lack of Patriotism
Keiko Fujimori has implied Pedro Pablo Kuczynski is a coward, fleeing when the country faced perilous times in the eighties.
“I, Keiko Fujimori, have not left the country as you did, for fear of terrorism. PPK did not just leave once but twice. The first for having provided US$ 118 million to the International Petroleum Company and the second because he was afraid of the terrorists..”- Keiko Fujimori
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski replied:
“I didn’t leave out of fear..I abandoned the country because there was no work at that time… Everyone has the right to earn a living as he can. I do not rely on my dad or the corruption of my uncles or anything like that. I depend on my work..”- Keiko Fujimori
Accusations of Lack of Interest, Neglect and Pure LazinessImage Source: Utero
Keiko Fujimori pointed PPK’s lack of determination for winning the presidential race. She mentioned that PPK took a trip to the United states in the most crucial stage of his political campaign.
“Pedro Pablo Kuczynski left for the United States for eight days. We will schedule an eight-day trip to the center and southern regions of the country, instead. That’s the commitment. We have been working, listening, talking, discussing and facing the needs of the population”- Keiko Fujimori.
PPK counterattacked by mentioning Keiko Fujimori’s lack of productivity during her congressional term.
“I went to New York to see my daughter, it is true, and why not; while she (Keiko Fujimori) left the Congress 500 days of her term of five years, not a single legislative initiative she proposed (passed) in five years, not one”- Pedro Pablo Kuczynski
In a recent debate, PPK once again attacked Keiko for her supposed apathy as a congresswoman.
“In the 1000 days you (Keiko) were working for Congress you were absent in 500 sessions. That is half of your time there. And from that period, you were absent 223 days because you were taking trips abroad.. half of those you went to the United States”- Pedro Pablo Kuczynski
“It is true, I asked for maternity leave twice. Because I have two daughters: Kiara and Kaori. And I asked for two months’ leave without pay in order to finish my Master’s degree”- Keiko Fujimori
Accusations of Plotting a Dictatorial DynastyImage Source: Radio Nacional
Kenji Fujimori, Keiko’s brother, promised to run for president in 2021 if Keiko loses this election. PPK used this statement to affirm that the Fujimori’s are a dictatorial dynasty seeking to hold on to power. He said:
“After concluding a potential presidential mandate, we will go to our house. I will never let a brother or an uncle to remain in charge. I will begin my mandate, work 5 years and then I will step down..”- Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
Keiko Fujimori, inheriting the cunning political strategies of her father, disagreed with her brother’s statement.
“If I become president, Kenji will not run for president of Peru in 2021. This is quite clear We both have differences of opinion, of course, it is natural.”- Keiko Fujimori
Accusations of Being too Decrepit to be PresidentImage Source: Diario correo
Keiko’s supporters have said that PPK is too old to become president. Some have jokingly affirmed PPK should not have one but two vice-presidents, just in case. Surprisingly, PPK said:
“I’m a candidate who has two vice presidents, Keiko Fujimori only has one. They say I’m old, it is true, but my coco (brain) works, my experience is vast and if anything happens to me, I have two insurance policies: Martincito and Mechita (his vice-presidents)”- Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
Again, Keiko criticized her opponent for his lack of consistency:
“Five years ago, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski supported my candidacy. Today, he joins rallies that voice insults towards me. There is a thin line between love and hate.”- Keiko Fujimori.
Accusations of Narco-Trafficking and More CorruptionImage Source: Huy Carajo
Controversy aroused when it was found that Joaquin Ramirez, one of Keiko’s allies and a “Fuerza Popular” congressman, has a pending investigation with the DEA for money laundering. Keiko said:
“In my Party “Fuerza Popular” we don’t intend to protect anyone. If there is not yet substantial proof to prosecute Joaquin Ramirez, he will continue to do his work as usual..”-Keiko Fujimori
As the Fujimori clan has been accused of forging strong links with Narco leaders, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski sharpened his attacks:
“We do not want to ever hear about a narco-state that might kill us all. So let’s combat drugs, narcotics, drug trafficking, and reject those dubious connections with those corrupt people. We will not allow our ports to become transfers points of drugs, having protection by corrupt judges..”-Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
In another debate, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski continued his attacks towards Keiko’s:
“I would ask you (Keiko Fujimori), how would you explain that drugs have been found in a warehouse, in which your brother (Kenji) is a partner? And why did you sign an agreement with a Construction firm that is widely known for extortion?”-Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
Keiko objected that such accusations have no real ground.
“I reject the accusations that my party “Fuerza Popular” has links with Narco-trafficking.”- Keiko Fujimori.
Social Media Reactions to the Presidential Race
Both candidates have exchanged soft punches in their campaigns. This is due to their caution in not upsetting the Peruvian electorate, who is generally conservative. Ironically, the “supposed” moderation of the public is nonexistent in social media. The heated discussions and the level of hate and frustration in online forums are unsettling.
Translation: “She was not only the first lady during the dictatorship, but also the ungrateful daughter who preferred to side with power (her father) and not with her mother” (Note: Keiko’s mother was tortured by Fujimori’s men for having leaked Fujimori’s corrupt deals to the press. During this “marital crisis”, Keiko supported her father.)
Translation: “According to Journalist Cesar Hildebrandt, having a president as PPK, Peru would turn into PP-CHAOS. I totally agree. “
Translation: “It is said that Vladimiro recorded a video with PPK” (Note: During Fujimori’s regime, Ex-CIA Vladimiro Montesinos recorded video clips when he was seen bribing several congressmen and media and TV personalities.)
Translation: “With all the COCAINE that has been dealt by “Fuerza Popular” party, I’m not surprised that her leader (Keiko) insists that she has a “strong” hand.”
(Note: In Peru, the word “duro/a” (stiff, hard, strong) is used to imply that someone has sniffed cocaine. Estas duro infers “you have sniffed a lot of cocaine.”)
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski is seen by some sectors as an elitist conservative who has contempt for social causes. To be fair, PPK once said that Andean communities want to nationalize Peruvian industries due to lack of oxygen in their brains.
Translation of the second tweet: “PPK is an enemy of young people. He wanted to crush the youth with “Pulpin law” (that slashed worker’s benefits). I don’t vote for a foreigner. I am Peru.”
Other Peruvians made ironic comments about Keiko’s congressional absence due to her pregnancy.
Translation: “I suppose Keiko Fujimori will grant a 500-day maternity leave to all the ladies giving birth.”
Keiko followers say PPK’s supporters are “stupid” and desperate
Translation: “This is the front page of La Republica newspaper in Arequipa “PPK is 37 points ahead of Keiko”, these fools are really desperate!!”
Translation: “I will never vote for Fujimorismo (I’m not that idiot) and PPK is the lesser evil, he is not that worthy, though, but that’s all we have.”
Some Peruvians condemn PPK’S political allies, such as former presidential candidate Cesar Acuña (accused of vote buying and plagiarism)
Translation: “I see you’re all happy for this coalition of dubious politicians, who sell themselves for just a pittance…”
Translation: “Fujimorismo recruits #KeikoLovers, young people suffering from amnesia, facing the year 2016.”
Translation: “The head of PPK’s government plan is a RACIST and a MONUMENTAL THUG. He has a shrinking brain.”
PPK was the target of contempt among Fujimori’s backers for meeting supporters of the movement “No to Keiko.”
Translation: “(Pitiful) how you ended @PPKfriend running alliances with those imbeciles from #NOtoKeiko, the dogs hired by @NadineHeredia (first lady and Fujimori’s rival)”
Fujimori’s supporters sent ads to young Peruvians to dissuade them from attending the rally “Fujimori never again”
Translation: “I received audio files from idiotic Fujimoristas pretending to scare me in not attending the march. Schemers, rats!!! #FujimoriNeverAgain”
Translation: “To those Communists and dirty socialists attending that damned rally against Keiko, Don’t you understand that hate leads nowhere, you piece of garbage?”
Translation: “Fujimorismo is pure love: love for coup d’etat, love for kidnappings, the murders, the corruption, the narco-trafficking, the plundering. Pure love!!”
Translation: “This is PPK’s last statement: “The child of a Thief is also a Thief”. I no longer have any respect for him. His ambition has turned him into a poor devil.”
Translation: “I feel that some Peruvians swallow some pills to become more stupid by the day, I don’t know how they can vote f0r Keiko.”
Memes and More
There are also memes making fun of Keiko’s absence in Congress.
Translation: “No Job is really bad. The real bad thing is to work.”
Fujimoristas accuse PPK of being an elitist, and a “sellout” who blindly supports U.S business interests.
Others criticized Keiko’s performance in political debates, in which she constantly reads her prepared statements instead of arguing with her own personal ideas.
Translation: “Are you going to spend the whole debate reading, Keiko? Did we pay for your university education just for this?”
Some Fujimoristas believe that if PPK wins, he may not be able to finish his presidential term.
Translation: “Rise, Rise, PPK”
And the last one..
Translation: “Keiko: I remind you that you are debating with me, not with my father. PPK: Yes, it’s true, but I see your father’s former allies are now working for you.”
Protests Against Keiko FujimoriImage Source: Notiperu
The 2016 Presidential elections are quite historic. The latest polls predict Keiko Fujimori will likely win this election. Yet, no other presidential candidate in Peruvian history has aroused such levels of opposition or being able to kindle protests across the globe. On May 31, Peruvians once again took to the streets to express their indignation against Keiko’s likely victory. In Lima alone, over 80,000 people displayed gigantic Peruvian flags, banners, pictures, masks, costumes, paintings and a gigantic Keiko doll. (In the United States, only a candidate as divisive as Donald Trump has had the odd privilege of having his own “doll” in public protests.)
The march unfolded without any violent incidents. Young protesters flaunted various posters reminding the public of the criminal accusations leveled against Alberto Fujimori. One of the artworks refreshed the memory of the over 300,000 indigenous women sterilized by force during Fujimori’s mandate. The painting had the inscription: “For all those children who were not allowed to be born. Never again!”Image Source: Courtesy of Romina Gatti Pareja
Asked about her thoughts of the rally, Keiko Fujimori said:
“I respect the opinion of everyone who participated in the march. I would have liked them to rally to vow their support for Mr. Kuczynski instead of protesting against just one person. However, they are within their rights to do so…On our side, we will continue doing our campaign, with ideas, but above all with great joy.”
Considering the multiple attacks she has confronted, Keiko Fujimori has proven to be a very tactful and skillful politician.
Now Watch this short clip of the Rally “Fujimori Never Again”:
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