Mexico City, Mexico, June 16, 2021 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza dismissed accusations by former Colombian President Andrés Pastrana that Nicolás Maduro was behind leftist candidate Pedro Castillo’s victory in Peru’s presidential election.
In an invective tweet, Arreaza questioned Pastrana’s capacity to reason and obsession with Venezuela after the latter told a media outlet that the wave of leftist victories in the region were owed to the “criminal enterprise financed by the narco-dictator Nicolás Maduro and Diosdado Cabello.”
Venezuela was a feature in the presidential race, with right-wing figures and defeated candidate Keiko Fujimori campaigning against “communism” and claiming Peru would end up like Venezuela in the event of a Castillo win. The large Venezuelan immigrant community, which has faced several xenophobic incidents, was also a campaign theme.
The Venezuelan opposition likewise joined the anti-Castillo camp, with far-right leader Leopoldo López flying to Peru on the eve of the election to endorse Fujimori. López is currently residing in Spain, having escaped from house arrest during a failed coup in April 2019. He then resided in the Spanish embassy for 18 months before fleeing the country. Caracas has demanded his extradition.
Regional politicians such as Pastrana and fellow former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe have taken to blaming Venezuela for nearly every social protest on the continent, from Chile to Ecuador, and more recently Colombia. They have not produced evidence to support this claim, instead figures such former Ecuadorean President Lenín Moreno have said that their intelligence services had uncovered plots.
Pastrana’s comments came before Peru’s electoral authority released final results. With 100 percent of the votes counted and processed, Peru’s National Office of Electoral Processes (ONPE) gave the leftist Castillo a victory by 44,000 votes over Fujimori. Pastrana, together with 22 other right-wing and centrist former presidents signed a letter calling on both Castillo and Fujimori to abstain from declaring victory pending final results.
Pastrana has not commented on the final tabulation by ONPE but has amplified sentiments expressed by Fujimori and her supporters that current Peruvian President Francisco Sagasti interfered in the election by calling on her to desist from challenging thousands of voting centers as part of her party’s effort to overturn the June 6 election results.
Fujimori has refused to recognize the outcome of the second-round vote that saw her narrowly defeated by the surprise winner of the first-round election, instead alleging electoral fraud. Election observers from the Progressive International released a statement saying they found no evidence of systemic irregularities in Peru’s second-round vote.
The far-right candidate, daughter of former Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori, said she is awaiting a decision from the country’s electoral court concerning disputed votes.
Fujimori has gone on to allege an international conspiracy by leftists to alter the results and deliver a victory to Castillo. However, even figures such as Human Rights Watch’s José Miguel Vivanco, a regular critic of leftist politicians, have suggested that Fujimori’s efforts constitute an effort to suppress legitimate votes.
For his part, rural teacher Pedro Castillo has called on his supporters to defend their victory but abstain from falling victim to provocations by his opponent’s followers. A number of analysts have warned that the situation in Peru is reminiscent of the 2019 coup in Bolivia where right-wing demonstrators seized on unfounded fraud allegations proffered by the Organization of American States to destabilize the country and eventually install a right-wing regime.
A number of regional leaders including Argentine President Alberto Fernandez and Bolivia's Luis Arce have already congratulated Pedro Castillo for his victory in the polls. The leftist candidate’s victory, months after Arce and the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) returned to power in Bolivia, could deal a significant blow to the right-wing Lima Group coalition and US-led regime-change efforts against Venezuela.
Edited by Ricardo Vaz from Mérida.