WikiLeaks cables: The great equaliser in Peru

Source: Al Jazeera

While WikiLeaks has had an extensive political impact upon the Middle East, the whistle-blowing group now stands to exert an influence on South America as well. Specifically, declassified US state department cables could shake things up in politically volatile Peru, a country which is fast approaching the second and final round of its presidential election on June 5.

Washington diplomats are most likely paying key attention to the race, which pits colourful populist and former army colonel Ollanta Humala against Keiko Fujimori, a young congresswoman and daughter of disgraced former president Alberto Fujimori.

Keiko’s political story reads like something out of a surreal magical realist novel.

In 1994, Alberto named Keiko first lady after fighting with his wife Susana Higuchi. When the details of the acrimonious divorce were publicised, including inflammatory accusations that Alberto had even tortured Higuchi, Keiko sided with her father.

At 35, she has been the youngest presidential candidate in the political field and is currently running on experience – that is to say, the experience of her father. Not only does Keiko bring a lot of personal baggage to the table, but politically she would most undoubtedly follow unenviable conservative economic policies favoured by Washington.

In many ways, Humala could not be more different from Keiko. A populist, he has said he would rewrite Peru’s constitution and retool the economy in favour of the poor who have been left out of the recent economic boom in Peru.

Humala is a nationalist and former lieutenant colonel. In 2000 he led a failed revolt against Fujimori’s electoral fraud and even kidnapped a general (he later received a congressional pardon). Humala would renegotiate contracts with foreign oil and mining companies and, according to the Financial Times, investors are nervous about the emerging candidate. If he wins, Humala would overcome his previous debacle, an unsuccessful 2006 electoral bid at the Peruvian presidency.

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