Pedro Lima

Pedro Castillo, a populist socialist and former primary school teacher with no prior political experience, was inaugurated as president of Peru on Wednesday.

In a ceremony wrought with symbolism, taking place on the 200th anniversary of Peru's independence from the Spanish Empire, Castillo addressed the nation in a collarless indigo jacket and his trademark wide-brimmed straw hat, according to the Economist. Castillo announced he would not reside in Lima's ornate "House of Pizarro," named after the Spanish conquistador who conquered the Incan Empire, including modern Peru.

PERU IS THE LATEST COUNTRY TO EXPERIMENT WITH SOCIALISM

“I will not rule from Pizarro’s house because I believe that we have to break with colonial symbols to end the ties of domination. We will cede this palace to the new ministry of culture so that it can be used as a museum that shows our history," he said.

He promised to implement sweeping changes to Peru, primarily fixing inequality and eliminating poverty. His promises on Wednesday echoed his much-repeated campaign slogan: "Never again a poor man in a rich country."

Pedro Castillo celebrates after being declared president-elect of Peru by election authorities, at his party´'s campaign headquarters in Lima Peru, Monday, July 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Guadalupe Prado)

Neoliberal policies in Peru have made its economy one of the fastest-growing in the world for the past 20 years, political analyst Andrea Moncada wrote for Americas Quarterly, but led to increased inequality, resulting in a sizable population of impoverished Peruvians who feel left behind. The coronavirus pandemic hit Peru especially hard, increasing poverty by 10 percentage points, reversing 10 years of economic progress, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The total number of coronavirus deaths in Peru is nearly 200,000, in a country of just 33 million people. Only 14% of the population is vaccinated.

The political upending caused by the coronavirus pandemic resulted in a presidential election pitting two deeply polarizing figures against each other: Castillo, a socialist, and Keiko Fujimori, the right-wing daughter of the former dictator of Peru.

Castillo emerged triumphant with 50% of the vote, a margin of roughly 44,250 votes, results show. Fujimori's claims of election fraud were thrown out after a month of legal battles, but the right-wing figure pledges she will lead, "The great challenge of stopping communism in Peru," according to the Guardian.

Despite running at the head of a Marxist-Leninist party, Peru Libre, Castillo recently made an effort to moderate his image. Far-left policies still have a stigma attached in Peru, following the traumatic memories of the insurgency of the Marxist "Shining Path" guerrillas in the 1980s and 1990s, according to the Washington Post.

“We are not communists ... We are not about destabilizing the country. We are workers, fighters, entrepreneurs, and we will guarantee a stable economy,” Castillo assured a crowd last month.

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Castillo ran on a syncretic platform, labeling himself as socialist on economic and political matters but conservative on social matters, according to the National Catholic Reporter. A Catholic, Castillo has voiced his opposition to abortion, euthanasia, "gender ideology," and same-sex marriage.

In a televised interview, after voicing his opposition to the legalization of abortion and euthanasia, Castillo replied to a question asking whether he would legalize same-sex marriage.

"Even worse. Family first. These two institutions, which are the family and the school, must go hand in hand," he said.

Castillo's primary policy goals, such as writing a new constitution and increasing funding for education and healthcare, will prove difficult to push through, according to the Economist. The former schoolteacher faces a hostile business and political elite, party infighting, and a majority right-wing congress.

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Tags: Peru, Socialism, socialists, populism, President, South America

Original Author: Brady Knox

Original Location: Pedro Castillo, populist socialist and schoolteacher, inaugurated as president of Peru

Source : https://news.yahoo.com/pedro-castillo-populist-socialist-schoolteacher-010500435.html

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