‘For my peasant sisters and brothers’: Left-wing rural teacher becomes new president of Peru
Written by Hit Music Radio News on 28/07/2021
A man who was until recently a teacher in a rural part of Peru has been sworn in as the country’s new president.
Pedro Castillo, representing a left-wing party, stunned voters and political observers by emerging from a group of 18 candidates and advancing to the runoff, finishing in first place.
His slogan, “no more poor in a rich country”, attracted support from the impoverished and those living in rural areas.
Mr Castillo, 51, has never held political office before, defeating right-wing career politician Keiko Fujimori by just 44,000 votes.
He is promising a new constitution, and to rule for “my peasant sisters and brothers”.
The son of illiterate peasants, he led a teachers’ strike in 2017. He is his country’s first president of peasant origin.
Mr Castillo is married with two children. Video of his wife, filmed at the weekend, shows her sweeping the floor at their house in the Andes and tending to some animals. Their home is in the country’s third-poorest district.
Peru is the second largest copper exporter in the world, but its economy has been crushed by the coronavirus pandemic. Economic gains made over the last decade have been eliminated.
Private companies are fearful that Mr Castillo will hike taxes on mining to fund health and education reforms.
But on the day of his inauguration, he said there was “not the remotest” plan to nationalise industry.
He will be seeking a “new pact” with private investors, however.
In a speech shortly after being sworn in, he said he wanted the state-owned bank to compete with private lenders but that he would maintain economic “order and predictability”.
He faces a divided Congress, meaning his political abilities will be tested from the start.
Claudia Navas, an analyst with the global firm Control Risks, said his government begins amid “considerable uncertainty”.
She added: “We still do not have clear his main lines of policy. However, we foresee that possibly, due to the characteristics of the Peruvian political system and the current general political and economic situation of the country, that Castillo will maintain a more pragmatic position than he announced during the campaign.
“The key is to build those consensuses and add strength to the proposals on how he is going to achieve them.”
© Sky News 2020