By David Blanco Bonilla
Lima, Jun 3 (EFE).- With promises of economic and political change, to “save” Peru from “communism” and to defeat Covid-19, presidential candidates Pedro Castillo and Keiko Fujimori closed their campaigning ahead of the second round of elections on Sunday.
Leftist Castillo and the right-wing Fujimori staged massive rallies on Thursday in the central Plaza Dos de Mayo and the district of Villa El Salvador, respectively, despite gatherings being prohibited due to the health emergency.
Without the authorities intervening, the rallies were the culmination of one of the most polarized campaigns of recent decades in a country faced with proposals for economic and political change on one hand, and a defense of the neoliberal model that has prevailed for three decades, on the other.
Forecasts indicate Sunday’s elections will be fought “vote by vote,” and the winner will take over from interim president Francisco Sagasti on July 28, the bicentennial of Peruvian independence.
In a mass closing rally and surrounded by his supporters, Castillo said that “the time has come not to look at ideologies, or the color of skin” and to “highlight the demand of the people” for a government that will recover “the wealth to have an industrialized and prosperous country.”
The candidate of the ultra-left Free Peru party addressed his followers from the balcony of the headquarters of the Workers’ General Confederation of Peru, the largest trade union center in the country, to tell them that he hopes that “the public outcry will be realized a few hours from here.”
He assured that, if he wins, his will be “a government of the people, to vindicate the people” and reiterated proposals such as “recovering” natural gas from the Camisea field and “calling a National Constituent Assembly” to change the 1993 constitution, promulgated during the government of Keiko’s father Alberto Fujimori.
He also reiterated his commitment to ensure that all Peruvians over 18 are vaccinated against Covid-19 by Dec. 31 and to work to recover the national economy, hard hit by the pandemic.
In Villa El Salvador, in the south of the Peruvian capital, Keiko Fujimori starred in another massive rally in which she asked her compatriots to support her candidacy to “save Peru from communism.”
Fujimori reiterated her campaign proposals, affirming she will promote the control of Covid-19, build new medical posts and hospitals, open a hundred oxygen plants and start a massive vaccination campaign.
She also said she will promote the opening of SMEs with exemptions from taxation and the requirement of licenses to operate.
The candidate, who denies that her many spending proposals are populist and assures that they are adequately financed, spoke of giving loans to small businesses and insisted on compensation to each of the more than 185,000 families of Covid victims.
With these massive gatherings, in which the minimum standards of health security were not respected, the two candidates closed their campaigns ahead of the ballot, in which more than 25.2 million Peruvians will participate to elect their president for 2021-2026. EFE