If I’m being honest, I didn’t pay a ton of attention to world politics prior to my departure to Peru. The current presidential race in the U.S. captivated most of my attention. But I found out that the country I would soon be living in for 6 weeks was holding an equally interesting presidential race. For those of you who don’t normally research Peruvian politics, here’s a quick overview of the recent presidential race:
Two candidates dominated the front-running positions of this presidential election: Keiko Fujimori (Keiko) and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK). The most interesting fact between the candidates is the “dad issue” that has been held over Keiko – her father was president of Peru from 1990-2000 and is currently serving a sentence for corruption and murder. He is seen by many as a dictator and human rights violator yet is also regarded as the president who brought Peru back from hyperinflation and extreme poverty. While there is no proof Keiko would act in a similar way as her corrupt father, many passionate anti-Fujimori movements have sprung up around Peru. PPK on the other hand is a financial and economic master, having worked previously for the World Bank, and holds close ties with the United States. While PPK and Keiko hold similar economic plans, their social views are quite different. Keiko is often aligned with conservative Catholics and evangelicals while PPK is regarded as much more liberal socially. Either way, when Peruvian’s voted last weekend, they knew what their country needed was a President that would lead them away from corruption.
Now that we’ve got all the politics of the politics out the way, we can get to the fun stuff. Living in Cusco in the weeks leading up to the presidential election, I couldn’t help but notice an intense energy. It’s actually quite similar to the political energy in the United States right now. Everyone seemed to have a strong opinion-even my 4 year old host-sister declared her support for PPK. Political propaganda filled the streets. Huge brick walls were spray painted with PPK, and entire walls of buildings were plastered with Keiko posters. I even witnessed demonstrations held in the main Plazas. When my friends and I took a weekend trip to Lima, the news dominated televisions everywhere and we watched eagerly as the polls began to rise with each vote being cast (fun fact: it’s mandatory to vote in Peru, so the participation rate was extremely high). Now that the winner has been announced (Congratulations PPK), Peru has a new vibe. All eyes are on the new president and people are anxious to see what his next steps are.
The whole reason I chose to study abroad was to gain insight to a different culture and being here during such a pivotal time has taught me even more about Peru. Hearing debates, listening to opinions, and learning about the political history Peru holds has shown me an entirely different side of the country. Physically being in the capital on the day of the election and watching news broadcasted to Peruvian citizens are some experiences I could have never fully grasped by reading a textbook.
All in all, I choose a pretty interesting time to study abroad in Peru.
The world awaits…discover it.