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20th Jul 2021

Leftist rural teacher wins presidential election in Peru

Kieran Galpin

Pedro Castillo

A turning point for the Peruvian presidential power

On Monday, Pedro Castillo became the winner of Peru’s presidential election, having originally been a teacher in a rural community. Castillo beat right-wing politician Keiko Fujimori by just 44,000 votes.

Penning the phrase “no more poor in a rich country”, Castillo and Fujimori’s standoff was the longest in 40-years of electoral history.

His rags to riches story could not be more inspiring. Castillo worked as an elementary school teacher for twenty-five years. He lived in San Luis de Puna, a remote village in Cajamarca. His campaign was not like others we see in the news, drenched in luxury fashion and flying in on helicopters. His was the definition of grassroots politics.

Wearing rubber sandals and a wide-brimmed hat, Castillo dressed like the poor in his community. In San Luis de Puna, forty per cent of children are chronically malnourished. In 2017, he led the largest teacher strike in 30 years.

“There are no cases of a person unrelated to the professional, military or economic elites who reached the presidency,” Cecilia Méndez, a Peruvian historian and professor at the University of California-Santa Barbara, told a radio station.

“He will not be like the other politicians who have not kept their promises and do not defend the poor,” said Maruja Inquilla, an environmental activist.

Fujimori said Monday that she would accept Mr Castillo’s victory after accusing him of electoral fraud for more than a month. Remind you of anyone?