My wife is a native of Peru and an American by choice. With family in Lima we naturally take an interest in what’s happening there. Yesterday the Wall Street Journal’s Mary Anastasia O’Grady devoted an excellent column to the leftist threat to Peru, a country that has made enormous progress over the past 20 years by suppressing the insane left-wing terrorists of Sendero Luminoso and by adopting liberalized trade policies. (The column is restricted to subscribers via the direct Journal link, but I think it can be accessed via Google or Google News.)
The leftist threat to Peru is one Ollanta Humala, the radical socialist presidential candidate. Humala is opposed by Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of disgraced former president Alberto Fujimori, who is currently serving a 25-year sentence for human rights violations and corruption.
How is Humala selling himself to the people of Peru? O’Grady reports that he is getting help from Brazil’s Workers’ Party and its “São Paulo Forum, a conglomeration of nationalists, socialists and communists from around the region who, having watched the Berlin Wall come down, have banded together to work toward the revival of their totalitarian ideals.” They have helped Humala to a public makeover: “Humala now wears a tie, talks of ‘love’ for Peru, and is photographed holding rosary beads.”
O’Grady covers a lot of ground in the column, but she lacked the space to explore one weird undercurrent in the race. Having just returned from Peru, my wife tells me that the acclaimed Peruvian novelist and Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa has thrown his support to Humala.
Vargas Llosa is a prominent proponent of freedom and economic liberalization in Latin America. Why would he support Humala, who has approximately one degree of separation from Fidel Castro? According to Vargas Llosa, voting for Keiko Fujimori “would amount to legitimating the worst dictatorship we’ve suffered during our history as a republic.” Vargas Llosa asserts that “electing Keiko Fujimori as president would be the worst mistake that Peruvians could make.”
But Peru quickly emerged from what Vargas Llosa calls Fujimori’s dictatorship. How long will it take for Venezuela to overcome Hugo Chavez?
Did Vargas Llosa forget to mention that Albert Fujimori defeated him for the presidency in 1990? Drat! I’ll have to get my wife to translate Vargas Llosa’s column endorsing Humala to find out.
UPDATE: My wife advises me that Vargas Llosa’s column does not mention the 1990 presidential election he lost to Fujimori.
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