Peru election: How a president, a criminal, and a Nobel winner are deciding the race

Imprisoned former President Alberto Fujimori, current President Alan García, and Nobel Prize in Literature recipient Mario Vargas Llosa are replicating, in some ways, their own electoral circus from 20 years ago.

By , Correspondent

  • close
    Peru's presidential candidate and former President Alejandro Toledo waves during his closing campaign rally in Lima, Peru, on April 7. Leftist Ollanta Humala is forecast to win in the first round of Peru's tight presidential election on Sunday and face right-winger Keiko Fujimori in a run-off, two new polls showed on Thursday.
    View Caption

Mario Vargas Llosa, recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature, this week stepped into the fray of Sunday's Peru election and endorsed former President Alejandro Toledo.

He also aimed scathing remarks at the leading presidential candidates, left-wing Ollanta Humala and the right-wing Keiko Fujimori. The latest polls show Mr. Toledo, an economist and former front-runner who served as Peru's first indigenous president from 2001 to 2006, now trailing several points behind Mr. Humala's 29 percent and Ms. Fujimori’s 24 percent.

An election between the latter two, Mr. Vargas Llosa said months ago and repeated this week on a local TV station, is “a choice between terminal cancer and AIDS." He also told CNN that the election of either candidate "would truly be a catastrophe for Peru."

Recommended: Gabriel García Márquez: 10 quotes for his birthday

Think you know South America? Take our geography quiz.

Both candidates have avoided retaliating, knowing that Peruvians are proud of Vargas Llosa's Nobel prize, the first ever won by a Peruvian. Attacking him could be detrimental to their electoral health.

The remarks underscore the influence that Vargas Llosa is playing over the election Sunday, when Peruvian voters go to the polls to pick a new president from among 10 candidates. He is among three names influencing the race, maybe even decisively, who are not on the ballot yet have made the race nastier and more volatile than other recent elections.

The three men – former President Alberto Fujimori, current President Alan García, and Vargas Llosa – are replicating, in some ways, their own electoral circus from 20 years ago.

Old grudges relived

In 1990, Mr. García was wrapping up his first term as president. While not running then for reelection, his APRA party produced a famous ad in the 1990 presidential runoff between Mr. Fujimori and Vargas Llosa, using Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” to warn voters against an economic disaster if Vargas Llosa won.

García’s government had already destroyed the economy – GDP shrank by 14 percent in 1989 and between 1985 and 1990 inflation was above 2 million percent – so the ad helped stoke fear of greater disaster. Fujimori, a political neophyte who emerged in the polls only weeks before the vote, won the race.

Two years later, Fujimori would close Congress and force García into exile. The government collapsed in the late 1990s and Fujimori fled to Japan in 2000, paving the way for García's return and presidential run in 2001, which he narrowly lost.

García finally made a comeback in the 2006 election, but his APRA party only won 36 seats in the 120-member Congress. An alliance was forged with a political bloc still loyal to Fujimori, who by then was wanted in Peru on charges of corruption and human rights abuses.

García also reconciled with Vargas Llosa a few years ago and eventually appointed him to head a museum project that would house exhibits on the 20 years of political violence that shook the country between 1980 and 2000. Vargas Llosa quit the committee last September, after the García government tried to force legislation that would allow crimes against humanity to expire. The legislation was later rescinded, but Vargas Llosa did not return to the committee.

García’s participation in the 2011 race has been more subtle, although several moments revealed his desire to meddle, too. Speaking to a group of businesspeople, he said that while he could not chose the next president, he could influence who would not be elected.

“I have done it before,” he added, in an apparent reference to the 1990 race.

Fernando Tuesta, a leading pollster in Peru, says García has vastly overestimated his influence. “García has created a myth that he can decide the election, but the APRA vote has already been divided among the candidates and he does not have the capacity to endorse anyone,” says Mr. Tuesta.

Humala and Fujimori rally supporters

Humala, the leading candidate in the final stretch, still believes that fraud is possible to keep him from winning. He called on his supporters during his closing rally this week to form “an army of observers” at polling stations to protect their votes from fraud.

Congresswoman Fujimori, meanwhile, is running on the legacy of her imprisoned father – who remains wildly popular, despite the fact that he was sentenced to a 25-year prison term on April 7, 2009, on human rights charges. He was convicted a few months earlier on corruption charges. Ms. Fujimori has promised to continue where he left off after fleeing one of the largest corruption scandals in South America’s recent history.

The elder Fujimori is held in a special police prison where he receives visitors – more than 100 on some days – and has played a backroom role in the campaign, even though this has been weakly denied. His personal nurse is running for Congress. Many of his former ministers are also running.

To some critics, it seems the only former government officials not running in the election are those in prison, recently released from prison, or still under criminal investigation.

“Keiko is nothing. She is only standing in the election because her father cannot,” says Miguel Sanchez, a university student attending a rally marking the 19th anniversary on April 5 of the former president’s decision to close Congress and rule by decree. “We have to say ‘no’ to a puppet government.”

Think you know South America? Take our geography quiz.

Share this story:

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

eZ debug

Clear cache:

Quick settings:

Timing: Jul 09 2014 15:21:14
Script start
Timing: Jul 09 2014 15:21:14
Module start 'content'
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 15:21:14
Undefined index: path in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezwebin/autoloads/ezpagedata.php on line 158
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 15:21:14
Undefined index: path in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezwebin/autoloads/ezpagedata.php on line 175
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 15:21:14
Undefined index: path in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezwebin/autoloads/ezpagedata.php on line 158
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 15:21:14
Undefined index: path in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezwebin/autoloads/ezpagedata.php on line 175
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 15:21:14
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 15:21:14
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 15:21:14
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 15:21:14
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 15:21:14
Undefined index: meta_remote_id_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/csm_base/classes/CSMFunctionCollection.php on line 1028
Warning: eZTemplate:def @ extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/templates/content/datatype/view/ezbyline.tpl:10[1] Jul 09 2014 15:21:14
Variable 'story_source' is already defined.
Warning: PHP: E_WARNING Jul 09 2014 15:21:14
exif_read_data(1007-Mario-Vargas-Llosa-Nobel-Literature.jpg): Incorrect APP1 Exif Identifier Code in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/lib/ezimage/classes/ezexifimageanalyzer.php on line 61
Timing: Jul 09 2014 15:21:14
Module end 'content'
Timing: Jul 09 2014 15:21:14
Before parse_includes
Strict: PHP: E_STRICT Jul 09 2014 15:21:14
Non-static method MugoViewExtras::get_view_extras() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/mugo_view_extras/autoloads/template_operators.php on line 37
Warning: eZTemplate:def @ extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/extra/archive.tpl:21[1] Jul 09 2014 15:21:14
Variable 'view_extra_node' is already defined.
Timing: Jul 09 2014 15:21:14
After parse_includes
Timing: Jul 09 2014 15:21:14
End

Timing points:

CheckpointElapsedRel. ElapsedMemoryRel. Memory
Script start 0.0000 sec0.0183 sec 1,286.3594 KB1,162.3047 KB
Module start 'content' 0.0183 sec2.5001 sec 2,448.6641 KB12,921.7188 KB
Module end 'content' 2.5184 sec0.0139 sec 15,370.3828 KB408.8047 KB
Before parse_includes 2.5323 sec0.0394 sec 15,779.1875 KB276.8047 KB
After parse_includes 2.5717 sec0.0007 sec 16,055.9922 KB-188.7109 KB
End 2.5725 sec  15,867.2813 KB 
Total runtime:2.5782 sec
Peak memory usage:21,654.7344 KB

Time accumulators:

 Accumulator Elapsed Percent Count Average
ini_load
Load cache0.0078 sec0.3023%370.0002 sec
Mysql Total
Mysqli_queries0.2276 sec8.8163%2810.0008 sec
Looping result0.0876 sec3.3923%2720.0003 sec
Template Total2.5215 sec 97.7% 8 0.3152 sec
Template load0.0078 sec0.3029%80.0010 sec
Template processing2.5136 sec97.3849%80.3142 sec
Template load and register function0.0004 sec0.0136%40.0001 sec
states
state_id_array0.0128 sec0.4945%240.0005 sec
state_identifier_array0.0206 sec0.7970%320.0006 sec
override
Cache load0.0079 sec0.3042%1080.0001 sec
eZ Find
Search0.0930 sec3.6036%10.0930 sec
Query build0.0810 sec3.1391%10.0810 sec
Class attribute list0.0749 sec2.9029%10.0749 sec
Engine time0.0107 sec0.4151%10.0107 sec
MoreLikeThis0.0000 sec0.0000%00.0000 sec
Sytem overhead
Fetch class attribute can translate value0.0029 sec0.1120%50.0006 sec
Fetch class attribute name0.0002 sec0.0091%120.0000 sec
XML
Image XML parsing0.0056 sec0.2182%50.0011 sec
class_abstraction
Instantiating content class attribute0.0001 sec0.0050%150.0000 sec
General
String conversion0.0000 sec0.0009%30.0000 sec
dbfile0.0018 sec0.0685%680.0000 sec
View Extra building0.0094 sec0.3628%40.0023 sec
Total script time:2.5811 sec

CSS/JS files loaded with "ezjscPacker" during request:

CacheTypePacklevelSourceFiles
01a980f93dc967c6e39d52a11ae2108b_1404899611_all.cssCSS3extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/stylesheets/normalize.css
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/stylesheets/html5b.css
design/standard/stylesheets/debug.css
extension/ezwt/design/standard/stylesheets/websitetoolbar.css
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/stylesheets/jquery-ui-1.10.3.custom.min.css
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/stylesheets/desktop.css
ede0a88fd146f1a095d27fb22227d0e5_1398846822.jsJS2extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/modernizr.js
extension/csm_base/design/standard/javascript/jquery-1.10.2.min.js
1650da1ba852ac5f9af81af07e8fa105_1404899611.jsJS2extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jquery-ui-1.10.4.min.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/json2.js
extension/csm_base/design/standard/javascript/jquery.cookie.min.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jquery.mobile.custom.min.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.arthole.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.sticky.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.csmstory.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.right_column.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.csmstory_editorspickdialog.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.sailthru_signup.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.jcarousel.min.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.history.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.mainNav.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.gallery.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.staffdialog.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jQuery.rollChildren.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/pubService_extended.js
extension/csm_base/design/standard/javascript/csm/csmNew.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jquery.quiz.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jquery.spectrumQuiz.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/global.js

Templates used to render the page:

UsageRequested templateTemplateTemplate loadedEditOverride
1node/view/full.tplfull/article.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/full/article.tplEdit templateOverride template
24content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/paragraph.tpl<No override>extension/ezwebin/design/ezwebin/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/paragraph.tplEdit templateOverride template
3content/datatype/view/ezimage.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/templates/content/datatype/view/ezimage.tplEdit templateOverride template
2content/datatype/view/ezstring.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezstring.tplEdit templateOverride template
20content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/link.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/link.tplEdit templateOverride template
4content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/strong.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/strong.tplEdit templateOverride template
4content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/header.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/header.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezxmltext.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltext.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezbyline.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/templates/content/datatype/view/ezbyline.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezobjectrelationlist.tplcontent/datatype/view/story_images.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/content/datatype/view/story_images.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/eztext.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/eztext.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezstring.tplcontent/datatype/view/image_credit.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/content/datatype/view/image_credit.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezxmltext.tplcontent/datatype/view/story_info_box.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/content/datatype/view/story_info_box.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezmatrix.tplcontent/datatype/view/ezmatrix_article_related_external_links.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/content/datatype/view/ezmatrix_article_related_external_links.tplEdit templateOverride template
1pagelayout.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/templates/pagelayout.tplEdit templateOverride template
1modules/mugo_view_extras/extra_cached.tpl<No override>extension/mugo_view_extras/design/standard/templates/modules/mugo_view_extras/extra_cached.tplEdit templateOverride template
1setup/debug_toolbar.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/setup/debug_toolbar.tplEdit templateOverride template
 Number of times templates used: 68
 Number of unique templates used: 17
 Time used to render template usage: 0.0004 secs