Pedro Castillo’s election victory came as a surprise to many, as he won by a short margin. His rival for the presidency, Keiko Fujimori, daughter of ex-president, Alberto Fujimori, received 49.8% of the votes while Castillo received 50.1% –clearly a divided country. As the first leftist candidate to win, he gained his popularity the same way his predecessors and also many of his counterparts in the region did:populism. Populism is not a new occurrence in Peru. From Haya’s APRA, Velasco’s military regime, to Alberto Fujimori, Populism continues not only to be a recurrence, but also the culprit of many of Peru’s socio-economic and political issues. But, Pedro Castillo is very different from his Peruvian predecessors. Pedro Castillo is a threat to democracy and inherent rights.
Pedro Castillo has been compared to the likes of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, for reasons that are not surprising. Like the counterparts mentioned, Pedro Castillo promised for his first 100 days agrarian reforms, changes in the public health system and education, nationalizations, appointments of dangerous individuals such as Hector Bejar Rivera, ex guerilla member trained in Cuba. Castillo has even resigned to live in the presidential palace and his whereabouts to where he will reside during his presidency is unknown (Fidel Castro also resided in a place where Cuban society did not know about). The most alarming issue is his approach to the economy. In his own words, “…it is the State that has to control the population and the markets. We are not going to allow inflation to hit the people’s table.” In other words, the State will control the free engagement of individuals. When the state controls the market, there is no other word to describe this than the economic policy of Socialism. Peru is a democracy, it cannot be compared to Cuba’s socialist dictatorship, but it can and most definitely will to Hugo Chavez’s “21st-century-Socialism”. Chavez and Castillo share a number of similarities, such as their race and origin, but most scarily is their approach in how to build their government. Both Chavez and Castillo favor a Constituent Assembly, nationalization–state, especially party controlled, economy and government. He has also labeled the rich as the enemy. The list goes on. These characteristics have brought devastating results, and it is not surprising that Venezuela has the worst migrant crisis in the 21st century. I am fearful to say that Peru probabilities of going through something similar is highly likely.
My grandmother would warn her Venezuelan friends about Chavez and list all the similarities Chavez had with Fidel Castro. Her friends would half smile, chuckle and say, “Venezuela is not Cuba…” The narrative has changed to “Peru will never be Venezuela”. To the Peruvians reading this post. History will most likely be repeating itself, and those who do not know their history are more than likely to repeat it. Pedro Castillo means to Peru, probably, a repetition of Cuban prodigies Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia.