Politics

Insults fly on social media ahead of contentious Peru presidential vote

By Fernando Gimeno

Lima, Mar 17 (efe-epa).- When Peruvians are the target of insults such as “terruco” or “caviar,” they will likely retaliate by calling their accuser an “aprofujimontesinista,” or perhaps a “viejo lesbiano.”

Those are just some of the regionally specific derogatory terms being hurled about on social media in the lead-up to the Andean nation’s contentious April 11 general election.

“Terruco” (a slang word for terrorist used by rightists to discredit people on the left and link them indiscriminately to the once-powerful Shining Path guerrilla group and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement) might take the prize for both the most offensive and commonly used of these epithets.

The fear-mongering by those who toss around the term “terruco,” meanwhile, has prompted the creation of a new verb, “terruquear,” the action of associating ideas or behavior construed as radical with terrorism.

“I don’t recognize Francisco Sagasti as president. He’s a fine ‘terruco,'” rightist candidate Rafael Lopez Aliaga, nicknamed “Uncle Porky,” recently said of Peru’s interim president, a member of the centrist and liberal Purple Party.

“Enough with ‘terruquear’ those of us who propose change,” the leader of Peru’s left and another presidential candidate, Veronika Mendoza, who has been hit with that insult more than anyone, said during last November’s political crisis.

For conservative Peruvians, a leftist is either a “terruco” or a “caviar,” Peru’s equivalent of a limousine liberal: someone who espouses left-wing causes while enjoying a lifestyle that removes them from the concerns of ordinary people.

A “caviar” is a permanent fixture of life in Peru that needs to be eradicated, according to Lopez Aliaga, who said in an interview that these individuals “enter the public sector, earn 15,000 soles (about $4,000) a month, destroy private enterprise, reproduce and die. They’ve completed their cycle.”

The Peruvian left, meanwhile, uses the derogatory term “aprofujimontesinismo” to describe a tacit “alliance” formed in recent years by Fujimorism (the political ideology of rightist former President Alberto Fujimori) and the Peruvian Aprista Party (APRA), which was founded decades ago as a center-left party with nationalist elements but currently espouses conservative positions.

The idea is to link the current rightist forces with the corruption that marked the 1985-1990 and 2006-2011 administrations of Alan Garcia, an APRA politician who committed suicide in 2019 after being accused of bribe-taking; and the 1990-2000 tenure of Fujimori, imprisoned for crimes against humanity and corruption.

Also thrown in for good measure is a reference to Vladimiro Montesinos, who was Peru’s intelligence chief under Fujimori and has been convicted of a range of crimes ranging from bribery to arms trafficking to forced disappearances.

Peruvian politicians also are known to be ridiculed as “dinosaurios” (dinosaurs), a term widely used by the left to refer to those with ultra-conservative ideas.

A conservative politician also may be called a “viejo lesbiano” (old lesbian), a slur that refers to elderly politicians from a bygone era who are highly critical of current societal trends.

The origin of that phrase is a viral meme of a sunglass-wearing dinosaur who dances while the line “auxilio, me desmayo, callese, viejo lesbiano” (help, I’m fainting, shut up old lesbian) is repeated ad nauseam.

As many as 18 candidates are expected to compete in the first round of balloting, which is now less than a month away, among them Fujimori’s daughter, rightist Keiko Fujimori, who has vowed to pardon her father if elected.

The online name-calling can be expected to continue at apace until a winner is determined, most likely after a runoff in early June, and then throughout the winner’s 2021-2026 term. EFE-EPA

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