Venezuela Welcomes Pedro Castillo’s Victory in Peru, Seeks Bilateral Cooperation

The regional Puebla Group said Castillo’s win added to the progressive winds blowing over the continent.

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Pedro Castillo Terrones greets supporters from a balcony
Peruvian President-elect Pedro Castillo Terrones greets supporters in Lima after being declared the winner of the vote. (Partido Perú Libre / Facebook)
By José Luis Granados Ceja
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Mexico City, Mexico, July 21, 2021 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela celebrated the victory of Pedro Castillo Terrones in Peru’s recent presidential election, pledging to work with his new government on a bilateral and regional agenda.

“A new political cycle is opening that we hope will be successful for this South American nation. The people of Venezuela embrace you, brothers and sisters,” stated President Nicolás Maduro via Twitter.

The president’s message was echoed by the foreign ministry, which praised the “massive participation” in the electoral contest that opened a “new political cycle.”

“The Bolivarian Government of Venezuela expresses its firm will to work hand-in-hand with the new government of Peru, in order to develop a bilateral relationship of comprehensive cooperation,” its statement read.

The Peruvian National Jury of Elections (JNE) officially declared Pedro Castillo the president-elect on Monday after reviewing and dismissing a series of complaints submitted by his far-right rival that alleged widespread fraud. The complaints by Popular Force, led by Keiko Fujimori, were roundly criticized for lacking merit. After being declared the winner, Castillo called on Fujimori to desist from her obstructionist tactics.

The issue of Venezuela became a feature in the presidential race, with right-wing figures and defeated candidate Fujimori campaigning against “communism” and claiming Peru would end up like Venezuela in the event of a Castillo win. Regional right-wing leaders even accused Caracas of meddling in the election in favor of Castillo, an accusation flatly rejected by Venezuela.

The victory of Castillo—who ran on behalf of a party that is self-described as Marxist and advocates for a progressive nationalist development agenda aimed at redistributing the country’s wealth to the poor—is also expected to dramatically reorient the country’s foreign policy.

Bilateral relations between Caracas and Lima grew strained after successive right-wing Peruvian governments played a leading role to promote regime-change efforts in Venezuela. The countries pushing to oust Maduro from power came to be known as the Lima Group, after their first conference was held in the Peruvian capital in August, 2017.

The influence of the Lima Group has waned over recent years as voters in countries such as Mexico and Argentina replaced right-wing leaders with progressive presidents. Argentina formally withdrew from the bloc earlier this year, while Mexico has abstained from participating in meetings and has not signed onto its recent declarations.

Castillo said on the campaign trail that he would withdraw from the bloc as well, and committed to “deactivating” the Lima Group within the first 100 days in office; a move that would render the ad hoc alliance moribund.

Meanwhile, leftist regional leaders and organizations such as the Puebla Group and ALBA-TCP, issued statements celebrating the former schoolteacher’s victory.

“The arrival of President Castillo adds to the progressive winds that blow over the region that began with the election of Presidents López Obrador in Mexico and Alberto Fernández in Argentina, which continued with the reestablishment of democracy in Bolivia, with the arrival of Luis Arce and the election of the Constituent Assembly in Chile and will surely be ratified in next year's elections in Brazil and Colombia,” read the communiqué by the Puebla Group.

The ALBA-TCP bloc said it viewed his victory with “great hope” and an opportunity to strengthen links between the peoples of the region.

Castillo, who won on a slim margin and will have to deal with a divided Congress, will take office on July 28.

Edited by Ricardo Vaz from Mérida.

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