5 June 2006
Peru rejects Chavism, sort of
Hugo Chavez perhaps doesn't have as much influence outside Venezuela as he might have thought; he strongly supported Ollanta Humala for president of Peru, but Peruvian voters, 5 to 4, spurned him in favor of Alan Garcia, who will return to the presidency after an 11-year absence.
Not that Garcia is expected to be all that wonderful. During his previous term, 1985-1990, inflation spiraled out of control and the nation's Gross Domestic Product actually dropped by a fifth. Deficit spending and Garcia's indifference to debt left Lima broke and poverty rampant. Alberto Fujimori, who succeeded Garcia as president, was able to reverse some of these trends, but only by repeated use of the iron fist.
And this sounds entirely too familiar:
In their desperation to gain an advantage, Peru's two candidates left a climate of distrust and confusion in a country where voting is compulsory. Many Peruvians said they would not vote for either man and would destroy their ballot papers.
Even more said neither candidate appealed and they would have to decide which of the pair was the lesser of two evils.
Mr Garcia evidently isn't going to start out with enormous reserves of political capital. Still, rejection of a Chavist will probably sit well with Washington, which is not at the moment exactly enamored of Hugo Chavez' Castro Lite regime in Caracas.