An attack that killed at least 18 people on Sunday evening (23) in Vraem (abbreviation for which the region of the valley of the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro rivers is known) worries Peru a little less than two weeks before the second round of the elections . presidential.
The armed forces said in a statement that the attack was carried out by Shining Path, a left-wing guerrilla in the 1990s, but that it still has active cells. The soldiers found brochures on the site attributing the attack to the group and asking voters to vote null and void, “to cleanse Vraem and Peru from haunts of bad life, parasites and corrupt people.”
The text also says: “Peruvian, boycott the bourgeois elections, because it is not your way. Do not go to vote, vote blank or null. Whoever votes for Keiko Fujimori is a traitor, a murderer of Vraem and of Peru. “. Among the victims of the attack, in a bar in San Miguel del Ene, in Vizcatán del Ene, were women and children.
Peruvian President Francisco Sagasti condemned the deaths and ordered the deployment of additional military forces in the region. “I strongly condemn and repudiate the murder of 14 people in Vraem. I ordered the Armed Forces and the national police to strengthen the area, so that this type of terrorist action does not go unpunished,” he said. written on a social network, ahead of the latest update on the number of victims.
At the time of the war between the Peruvian state and the Shining Path, especially in the 1980s and 1990s, Vraem was a region of fierce clashes. The victory of the state only came after having accepted the help of the “peasant rounds”, militias made up of civilians who entered into the confrontation to face the guerrillas. The result of the conflict has been the death of over 70,000 Peruvians.
The attack could have electoral consequences – the second round of the presidential election is scheduled for June 6, between the unionist and leftist professor Pedro Castillo, 51, and the right-wing Keiko Fujimori, 45, daughter of the autocrat Alberto Fujimori ( 1990-2000).
Castillo has the support of the so-called “ronderos”, who still operate in the country and are accepted by rural communities, who see them as protectors. There are, however, members around the candidate who have ties to Movadef – the political arm of the Shining Path.
Members of the group even act as campaign advisers in the presidential race. And some have already been arrested in connection with actions deemed terrorist by the courts.
Keiko’s propaganda, in turn, attacks both “ronderos” and senderistas, claiming they are all “terrorists,” a statement he again made when commenting on the attack on social media.
In the face of these unfortunate events, I give my full support to President Sagasti, the Peruvian National Police and our armed forces to restore order. We are not afraid, what terrorism seeks is to stop this electoral process. We won’t allow that, ”the candidate wrote.
The fact that he ended the war with Sendero Luminoso, with the arrest of his maximum leader, Abimael Guzmán, in 1992, gave Alberto Fujimori enormous popularity – and also Fujimorism.
The Vraem region has been an area of instability for many years as it concentrates coca plantations and drug trafficking routes. In recent times, a government attempt to start eradicating coca plantations and replacing them with other crops has created tensions in the region. Attacks between groups that no longer had what was left of the action previously commanded exclusively by the Shining Path are very common.
On Saturday (22), thousands of people took to the streets in several cities across the country against Keiko’s candidacy, in protests called by human rights and anti-corruption groups. Under the slogan “For Peru, Keiko Won’t Go”, the march took place peacefully in Lima with thousands of people wearing masks and waving banners with slogans against the candidate and her ruling father in 1990. to 2000.
A poll released on Sunday (23) indicates that 44.8% of those polled intend to vote for Castillo, while 34% say they want Keiko. The Peruvian Institute of Studies poll commissioned by the newspaper La Republica was conducted among 1,208 people on May 20 and 21 and has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points. The poll also indicated that 13% intend to vote blank or no.