Peru's Vargas Llosa backs Keiko Fujimori ahead of June run-off

by Reuters
Sunday, 18 April 2021 09:33 GMT

MADRID, April 18 (Reuters) - Peruvian Literature Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa on Sunday called on Peruvian voters to support market-friendly candidate Keiko Fujimori ahead of a run-off election to be held in June.

"Peruvians must vote for Keiko Fujimori as she represents the lesser evil and there is, with her in power, more possibilities to save our democracy," Vargas Llosa wrote in his weekly column in the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

Vargas Llosa, a towering figure in Peruvian politics since he ran for president and lost in 1990 - against Fujimori's father Alberto - has taken sides against the younger Fujimori twice, in 2011 and 2016. His support back then was seen as crucial for the two winning candidates, left-winger Ollanta Humala and free marketeer Pedro-Pablo Kuczynski.

Keiko Fujimori is slated to face far-left candidate Pedro Castillo, who came first during the presidential election's first round on April 11.

The 51-year-old union leader and primary school teacher was a shock winner after a late surge in the polls.

His Free Peru, which calls itself "socialist left", has pledged to redraft the constitution to weaken the business elite and renegotiate contracts with mining, oil, gas and communications companies, and nationalize some of them.

Vargas said in his column that a Peru led by Castillo would have "all the characteristics of a communist society".

Fujimori is a deeply divisive figure as her father was jailed for human rights abuses in the 1990s, and a graft network headed by his main adviser Vladmiro Montesinos infiltrated all the levers of power during his time in power.

Keiko Fujimori has pledged to get her father out of jail, if elected.

Vargas Llosa, a staunch opponent of the Fujimori family for 30 years, also asked Keiko Fujimori to protect democracy, freedom of speech, rule of law and keep Montesinos in jail.

In his recommendations, the novelist did not mention the issue of a pardon for Alberto Fujimori. (Reporting by Inti Landauro Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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