Lima, May 29 (EFE).- Thousands of supporters of right-wing presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori gathered in Lima on Saturday amid fears that a win by leftist candidate Pedro Castillo would lead to communism.
The march that highlighted the polarizing presidential race began at the iconic Plaza San Martín.
A week ago, thousands of Peruvians had marched against Fujimori, who claims the legacy of her father, Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), sentenced to 25 years in prison for crimes against humanity and corruption.
The demonstrators carried flags of Peru and wore the jersey of the national soccer team, following in the footsteps of the candidate of the Fujimorist Popular Force party.
She campaigned for the presidential runoff in the jersey, symbolizing that vote for her is a vote for the country.
The participants shouted slogans and carried placards that read “no to communism” and “no to terrorism,” echoing the messages of the large hoardings in Peru’s major cities as part of a million-dollar campaign against Castillo.
“We Peruvians cannot allow communism to govern us. It is necessary to defend Peru from it,” protester Diego Vargas told EFE.
“I consider it a duty, something necessary for every Peruvian, to defend the homeland from a big threat posed by Perú Libre (party), which is to offer communism to Peru.”
Another participant, Milagros Sayán, said the demonstration was a “fight for democracy.”
“My country is on the verge of collapse. We are seeing how our sister countries are currently suffering. This is the case of Chile, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba,” Sayan said.
Fujimori voters are also concerned about a feared resurgence of terrorism the way it occurred during the internal armed conflict (1980-2000) by the Maoist-inspired group Shining Path and the Marxist-Leninist guerrilla group, Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.
A total of 16 people were slain this week in the Valley of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers (VRAEM).
It is Peru’s largest producer of coca, the raw material of cocaine, and the main bastion of the remnants of the Shining Path that has joined forces with drug cartels, according to Peruvian authorities.
The march then headed toward the nearby Campo de Mars park.
There were also tense moments during the march when several non-Fujimorists reminded those present of the corruption charges carrying possible sentences of over 30 years in prison that Keiko Fujimori faces.
The march “for peace and democracy” then took a hostile turn with cries of “terrorist” and “communist” toward the non-Fujimorists until they were expelled from the site.
The arrival of some supporters of Castillo’s party later in the night also caused moments of tension at the square, where there was little police presence.
More than 25 million Peruvians are eligible to vote in the presidential runoff on June 6 to elect the person who will govern Peru for the next five years. EFE