Peru: Humala Widens Lead, Garica in 2nd
It now appears clear, two leftists will battle it out for the Presidency of Peru, amazingly shutting out pro-business candidate Lourdes Flores. Maverick indigenous nationalist Ollanta Humala has won the first round of voting, and will proceed to a run-off against, in likelihood, against former President Alan Garcia.
The Western press (and (markets) are aghast. Lead paragraphs describe Humala as a "firebrand," "populist," political neophyte, "demagogue," "gruff, polarizing," "former army leader" - and worst of all "Chavez ally" (when he gets a phone call from Castro, they'll too be best friends). To Reuters, he is someone who "rallied the poor and angered the rich" - a "nightmare" says the lone "expert" quoted in the liberal Mercury News. For this impending doom we can thank the "Indians" (who resent the Europeans) says the Seattle Times headline, .
Sensing the dampening tone in the initial press reports, and after being attacked in the polling station by violent thugs, Humala felt compelled to direct his first words at foreign businessmen: "Let's be clear. Nationalism isn't the same as nationalizing companies, it's a love of your country. We are not going to expropriate anyone's business," said Humala at his campaign headquarters in Lima. "We are going to respect private property and guarantee investment. We don't want a traumatic shock in Peru or to deepen our divisions," he added.
Former President Garcia is the real wild card here. His presence in the race was barely mentioned by the press until a few days ago week when his poll numbers surged. His support, from the rural poor, overlaps Humala's, meaning the Lima vote is critical. Polls apparently had Humala just behind Garcia in a face to face, but I think in the end they will side with the devil they don't know rather than the devil they do.
The US has pretty much stayed out of this race (smartly), counting on a 2nd place spot for Flores. Polls showed Flores then easily taking the Presidency at this key moment in history. Combine this and Berlosconi's apparent defeat, with even more troublesome elections looming in Mexico, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Venezuela, etc. and you can understand why the US bowed out of the Human Rights Commission voting. The pesty impoverished people once again had other plans.