Peru is no stranger to political turmoil: in the 1980s and early 1990s, a leftist guerrilla movement, the Shining Path, threatened the viability of the Peruvian state, contributing to the collapse of the economy and hyperinflation. Former President Alberto Fujimori (1990–2000) succeeded in wresting back the initiative from the Shining Path, but at the cost of permitting rampant corruption, widespread human rights abuses, and a takeover of government institutions.
But since Fujimori’s resignation in 2000, the last several years have come as a welcome surprise, as successive democratically elected governments have peacefully transitioned in and out of office. The economy has grown for 16 consecutive years; in that time the poverty rate has fallen from over 50 percent of the population to 22 percent. And in 2009, Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years in prison on charges of corruption, abduction, and murder during his 1990–2000 tenure.
But the upcoming presidential election, slated for April 10, could be putting years of progress in serious jeopardy.
This story starts earlier in March, when two of the leading presidential candidates were barred from running. Everyone for Peru (TPP) party candidate Julio Guzmán, who had been polling at 16 percent and was running second in the race, was banned after his party was found not to have followed appropriate internal procedures in confirming his candidacy. César Acuña of the Alliance for Progress (APP), who was polling third or fourth, was disqualified for handing out payments to voters, which is forbidden under electoral law.
Both men appealed the decisions on the grounds that their political rights had been violated because the courts had not followed due process. And on March 14, Peru’s National Electoral Jury (JNE), which is in charge of overseeing electoral processes, rejected their claims.
The cases represented the first time in Peru’s recent history that a candidate has been blocked in such a manner from the presidential race. The JNE, historically more of an election observer, thus prompted widespread criticism with its decision to become more active, including
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