Democracy Under Attack By Trumpism In Peru

Trumpism is not dead. A new political philosophy comprising a blending of white supremacy, voter suppression, market fundamentalism and authoritarianism is influencing the June 6, 2021 presidential election in Peru, in south America.

All the votes have been counted and national and International election observers have confirmed that the election was clean but right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of imprisoned former dictator Alberto Fujimori, is staging a coup to prevent her rival the son of illiterate peasants Pedro Castillo from becoming President. Her cries of fraud, unsupported by any evidence, has shaken the class system and a fragile democracy.

Pedro Castillo won the election with a small margin of 44,000 votes with the support of the rural poor who are 54% of the population including 19% who live in absolute poverty (i.e. live on less than 1.00 $ a day). He has promised to apply the resources of the country to reduce the high rate of poverty (VisionLaunchMedia- 3 Tragic Peru Poverty Rate Statistics and Facts by Crystal Lombardo, August 24).

In contrast, Fujimori’s campaign was essentially a fight against communism which won over many middle class voters and is backed by the entire Lima establishment, business leaders and major media outlets as well as the middle class.

In a society in which there is vast social, racial and regional inequalities Castillo is an outsider whose popularity is seen as a threat by privileged Peruvians. Fujimori advocates continuing with the same failed market driven policies which brought Peru to where it is today.

Fujimori’s strategy is clearly Trump-like. Spread disinformation, delegitimize the election and create an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty.

Firstly, you smear your opponent by calling him or her a communist. Then if you lose you cry foul and accuse your opponent of stealing the election.

Inspired by Donald Trump’s refusal to accept defeat in the US election Fujimori has promised her supporters that the election ‘will be flipped’.

An illustration of the uneven playing field is that even before the election she hired the best legal minds to file over a thousand applications in the courts to have 400,000 votes annulled, almost all from the Andean regions which supported Castillo overwhelmingly.

In mid-June over sixty former military officers published a letter calling for a coup against Castillo and there have been racial memes on social media among the white middle class saying that Andeans are too ignorant to vote and calling for a return to Alberto Fujimori’s alleged forced sterilizations against indigenous women.

Fujimori has a special stake in the outcome of the election because she is facing 35 years in prison for graft and corruption and as President she would be free to drop the charges as well as pardon her imprisoned father.

The unfairness of the electoral system is illustrated by the fact that although the election was more than three weeks ago the National Office of Electoral Processes (ONPE) has not certified the result.

Peru is yet another example where democracy is threatened.

In the process of development democracy was supposed to replace feudalism in Europe, the one-party state in Africa and military rule in Latin America. But increasingly liberal democracies around the world are seeing the rise of authoritarian populists like Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil), Rodrigo Duterte (The Philippines), Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel), Narenda Modi (India) and now Keiko Fujimori who see themselves as the equivalent and allies of Donald Trump.

People voted for them. It is shocking that nearly 50% of the voters in Peru chose to hand over the presidency of the country to someone with such a questionable character as Keiko Fujimori. Had she won, it would have been tantamount to handing over the keys of the hen house to the fox.

The coup also has geo-political implications with the alleged involvement of the US as some people on Fujimori’s team have relationships with the CIA.

However perfect the theory of a political system is it is only as good as the extent to which people observe its’ principles. When democracy fails it gives rise to political instability and even violence.

There is a persistent ideology in the world covering social emotions, style of governance, political movement and a set of mechanisms for acquiring and keeping power associated with Donald Trump.

On January 6, the Trump mob stormed the Capitol in Washington DC, the very heart of America’s democracy, and it took the intervention of the military to save, not one side or the other, but the system itself and democracy prevailed.

In Peru it is left to be seen if the people will be able to save their democracy or have to experience the unpleasant alternative of a bloody revolution.

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