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Wed May 5, 2021, 11:50 PM

Son of the soil Pedro Castillo promises a presidency for Peru's poor

Son of the soil Pedro Castillo promises a presidency for Peru’s poor

Dan Collyns in Chugur
Wed 5 May 2021 06.30 EDT

Next month’s runoff election pits the 51-year-old teacher against the far-right daughter of the country’s 90s autocrat

By law, any president of Peru must be born on Peruvian soil. But few of the country’s past leaders know that soil like the frontrunning candidate in the current electoral race – the son of Andean peasant farmers, who grew up in poverty.

On a recent morning, Pedro Castillo wore a woollen poncho, sandals made from old car tyres and a traditional wide-brimmed straw hat as he tended to his cows on his farm in Chugur, a tiny hamlet seven hours’ drive from the city of Cajamarca.

“When you see that your children wear the same clothes, sleep in the same clothes, wake up and go to school again in the same clothes, you realise the political class has been using you,” he told the Guardian, using the homely language that chimes with rural Peruvians who feel left behind by the country’s two decades of economic growth.

That gap between rural and urban Peru has only been widened by the country’s brutal Covid-19 outbreak which has left 1.8m officially confirmed cases, more than 61,000 deaths, and a healthcare system on its knees. Rising death rates have recently forced the return of the restrictions which made millions destitute at the outbreak of the pandemic.

. . .

Amid mudslinging on both sides, Castillo has been labelled a “terrorist” but responds that the “real terrorists are hunger, misery, neglect, inequality, injustice”.


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