Pandemic, economy and political fragility are challenges for Castillo in Peru – 07/25/2021 – World

When Pedro Castillo, 51, takes over Peru’s presidency next Wednesday (28), he will have at least three open fronts he will need to focus on.

The first is the coronavirus pandemic. Peru has the highest death rate in South America relative to population, with more than 195,000 deaths from the disease.

Between March and April, the country returned to a high number of cases. Subsequently, the situation improved, and in the last few weeks it has increased again. According to specialists, this increase is due to more flexible activities and the appearance of new variants, such as lambda and delta.

“We have intensive care units saturated in several parts of the country and oxygen supply shortages. In addition, there is great concern about the vaccination rate, which remains very low, ”explains the emergency coordinator of Médecins sans frontières, Francesco Segoni. In total, only 21.4% of Peruvians are vaccinated with the first dose, and 12.6% with both.

The pandemic has exacerbated a second pressing problem in Peru, increasing poverty. After a period of annual average GDP growth of 5.6% between 2001 and 2016, the number of poor people in the country fell sharply from 60% of the population to 21% (during the same period).

From 2019, however, this curve increased again and became more pronounced in 2020, due to the strict quarantine measures imposed, which directly affected the informal market, where more than 70% of Peruvian workers are located.

As of 2020, there are an additional 3 million Peruvians below the poverty line. Now that figure is 27%. The country’s GDP has fallen by 11% in the past 12 months (World Bank and Peruvian government data).

The third front that Castillo will face is politics. With the sole control of the Executive and the support of only 37 of the 130 members of the new Congress, it will have to seek alliances.

“It’s one thing to make deals in a political system where parties are strong and move by a set of ideas. But since the return to democracy after the Fujimori years, parties are acronyms for hiring, they are fragmented and serve special interests. in this scenario, it is very difficult to forge solid alliances. There is nothing to indicate that the political instability that we have known in recent years is no longer present, ”explains Steven Levitsky of Harvard University.

Always on this front, we must follow in the footsteps of Fujimorism. Gathered within the Popular Forces party, the 24 parliamentarians led by Keiko Fujimori will be the second force within the Congress.

Fujimori’s words in granting defeat were questionable. On the one hand, he said he accepted the result. At the same time, he considered Castillo not a legitimate president, as he claims there was fraud – even though his requests to challenge the minutes were deemed invalid by the electoral tribunal.

Fujimori called for an alliance with opposing forces and promised, through democratic channels, close monitoring of Castillo’s actions.

Fujimorism, however, was the main force supporting the “vacancy” (impeachment) demands of former presidents Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (who beat their leader in the 2016 race) and Martín Vizcarra, who succeeded him. Castillo is therefore to be expected to have the toughest opponent in this political group.

Fujimori is also defending a corruption lawsuit, which accuses him of accepting bribes and cash 2 in his previous elections.

Before being a candidate, she spent more than a year in preventive detention. The pressure on their immunity can be a bargaining chip for Fujimorism. Without presidential status and defeated in the election, Keiko Fujimori could be arrested again at any time.

“Fujimorism cannot be considered dead in Peru. Not so much because of Alberto Fujimori’s ideas, but because of the interest groups that have supported Keiko in recent years and depend on his freedom to maintain their businesses, their status, their regional power. ” , explains analyst Alberto Vergara.

According to analyst James Bosworth, “with legitimacy challenged by the opposition, Castillo will have an impetus to take measures soon focused on the consolidation of power, which may involve judicial reform, more radical action on the law. question of nationalizations or calling for a new Constituent “.

He said, however, that this would not happen in the first months, which should be marked by a truce, both on the side of the opposition and the government, which “tends to take the first steps, a sign of moderation”.

The way Castillo should govern, especially in the economic field, will become clearer in the coming days, when the new president will have to announce his ministerial team.

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