Today, Peru is celebrating 200 years of independence from Spain.
On July 28, 1821, General José de San Martin proclaimed independence from a balcony in Huaura – about 2 hours north of Lima.
Today, the country is also inaugurating a new president for the next 5 years. The last 3 months have been tumultuous in Peruvian politics as the first time candidate, Pedro Castillo, rose in popularity in the last week before elections in April and managed to win the election with 18.95% of the vote. Since there were 18 presidential candidates in the election, no candidate received the necessary 51% of votes and we went to a second election in June.
Castillo and the second-place candidate, Keiko Fujimori (who received 13.4% of the vote), could not be any more different from each other. One is extreme left and the other extreme-right. Castillo is an unknown public school teacher from the provinces and Keiko has been a long-time presence in politics as the daughter (and former first lady) of a previous Peruvian president, Alberto Fujimori – who escaped to Japan, then Chile and then extradited back to Peru and is currently in jail for crimes against humanity.
The country was very divided between the two candidates – with the city of Lima (about 10 million) leaning more towards Keiko and the mountains pulling for Castillo. Castillo’s platform is heavily influenced by socialism/Marxism-Leninism and Keiko follows a right-wing populism/social conservatism/economic liberalism agenda, and has received allegations of corruption from her years of service in Congress.
On June 6th, Peruvians returned to the polls to make an important decision regarding who would lead the country for the next 5 years. Since the country was so divided and every vote needed to be counted, it took days before preliminary results were announced. The results were so close that both sides contested the results claiming voter fraud and fraudulent ballots being cast.
It took weeks – 6 in fact – before the entity that overseas elections announced that Pedro Castillo was the winner and would be inaugurated 9 days later on July 28th as the new president.
Join us in praying for this country and its people. The country has experienced a lot of trauma in Peruvian politics over the last 40 years through terrorism, huge inflation and corruption. Some are worried what the future holds for the country.
Also, join us in praying for Castillo as he takes leadership amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Pray for wisdom as he makes decisions to bring the country out of the pandemic and to navigate in the midst of a struggling economy.
We love this country and pray that this new administration leads with integrity.
– Kate, Billy & Will
*In our next post we will share about our last 3 months in Michigan!*