By Fernando Gimeno
Lima, May 30 (EFE).- Peru’s presidential candidates faced off on Sunday in the second and final debate ahead of the run-off on June 6.
While the right-wing Keiko Fujimori launched a range of public spending proposals, her leftist rival, Pedro Castillo, tried to convince voters of his integrity and humble beginnings.
Throughout the nearly three hour-long debate, the daughter and political heiress of former president Alberto Fujimori kept firing economic proposals and branding Castillo as sexist and a troublemaker in reference to the attacks on her entourage the previous day in the southern city of Arequipa, where the debate was held.
Castillo, the candidate of the left-wing Free Peru party, did not respond with the same forcefulness as his opponent, opting to focus on highlighting the major inequalities in the country and presenting himself as a man of integrity against Fujimori, who faces a money laundering charge that could lead to a 30-year prison sentence.
Among the multitude of economic proposals of the candidate of the Fujiimorist Popular Force party is an increase in the minimum wage.
Fujimori also touched upon measures to reactivate the economy including a proposal to give loans of 10,000 soles (about $2,600) to entrepreneurs for a five-year period, and mechanisms to ease the setting up of companies, with tax exemptions in the first few years.
She also proposed a reduction in the selective consumption tax on fuel, giving 40 percent of mining royalties directly to people, and 10,000 soles to Covid-19 victims.
In education, Fujimori proposed building 3,000 new schools, delivering 6 million computers, subsidizing internet, and expanding social programs and the Beca 18 scholarships.
She also promised to expand the Pensión 65 and Juntos social programs focused on the vulnerable population.
Another of her promises was to have the entire population vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of the year, something her opponent also agreed upon, as well as strengthening primary health care.
The most tense moment of the debate came right at the beginning, when Fujimori showed one of the stones with which she claimed a group of Castillo’s supporters attacked her entourage, one of the several violent episodes that have occurred on both sides during this polarized campaign.
“You’re used to throwing stones. With your language and your messages of hate and class struggle, you have not only provoked attacks on journalists but also on citizens,” said Fujimori, who is aiming for the third time to become Peru’s first female president after losing the 2011 and 2016 run-offs.
Castillo proposed universal health care, free internet in schools, a decentralization of and free access to universities, as well as extending the public pension program to people over 60 years and new ones to improve the nutrition of the poor.
“I don’t bring a bunch of promises but I bring this fighting courage that I’ve learned as a rondero and teacher. I know how things are done. No more poor people in a rich country,” declared Castillo, who also proposes to nationalize natural resources and protect domestic production.
“I will give up my salary as president. I will lead the country on a teacher’s salary. I am here for Peru. I’m not driven by any other motive,” he added.
While Castillo closed the debate by saying it was time to give an Andean man the opportunity to recover the dignity of the Peruvian people, Fujimori promised to build “a new path.”
Both candidates arrived at the debate placed in a virtual technical tie according to the latest polls, published a week before the run-off on June 6, in which over 25 million Peruvians will vote for the person who will govern Peru for the next five years. EFE