Suspected of Buying Votes, Peru’s Presidential Frontrunner Gets to Stay in the Race

Keiko Fujimori Higuchi. Foto del usuario de Flickr Néstor Soto Maldonado. Bajo licencia CC 2.0

Keiko Fujimori Higuchi. Photo: Flickr / Néstor Soto Maldonado / CC 2.0.

The original version of this text was published on the blog Globalizado by Juan Arellano.

Finally, during the wee hours of March 24, 2016, the Special Electorate Jury (JEE) of Downtown Lima announced its decision not to exclude from Peru's presidential election Keiko Fujimori, the frontrunner and daughter of controversial former president Alberto Fujimori. The court found a lack of evidence to demonstrate that she failed to comply with a paragraph in Peru's law of political organizations that prohibits giving or promising gifts, donations, or money.

Citizens Ermes Lerzundi Silvera and Inés Consuelo Perdomo Pacaya, former political militants, presented the petition for exclusion on February 2016, claiming that Keiko Fujimori had given money during a rally organized by the youth group called Factor K, which is connected to Fujimori's Popular Force party. Protests against her candidacy broke out when the country's news media caught wind of the petition.

The JEE ruled that she did not hand out “money in a direct or indirect manner,” pointing out that “the event was always considered a union gathering, not a rally.”

La Mula's website analyzed in greater depth the basis for the JEE's decision, arguing that the court failed to take into account the presented evidence:

La resolución fija un criterio nuevo para exclusión que el artículo 42 de la ley de organizaciones políticas no precisa, al señalar que para aplicar la sanción se debe acreditar que el dinero que se pretende entregar provenga del patrimonio del candidato y además que sea entregado a un tercero quien actuará como intermediario para la remisión al destinatario final. Por tanto, el fallo en el caso de Keiko Fujimori señala que, “dada la rigurosidad de la sanción, no se configura la tipicidad de la entrega de dinero a través de un tercero”.

The agreement establishes a new criteria for the exclusion, that the article 42 of the law of political organizations does not determine, when pointing out that to apply the sanction it must be proved that the money planned to be handed out comes from the candidate's patrimony, and also must be given to a third party who will act as an intermediary for the final destinatary remission. Therefore, the sentence in Keiko Fujimori's case says that “given the grueling of the sanction, it could not be concluded the gift of money through a third party.”

Reflecting on the decision, Santiago Pedraglio, a columnist for the news site Perú21, says the court's earlier actions against other candidates in the race makes its decision regarding Keiko Fujimori especially awkward:

El Jurado Nacional de Elecciones y el Jurado Electoral Especial de Lima Centro (JEE) se hicieron un jaque mate al excluir a Acuña y sobre todo a Guzmán –este último, de manera arbitraria–. Por un lado, sacar a Keiko Fujimori equivale a poner a más de 50% de la intención de voto –sumadas las de KF, Guzmán y Acuña– fuera de juego, con lo que se instalaría un clima de ilegitimidad; y por otro, no sacarla es sinónimo de voluntad de fraude para buena parte del electorado, además de deslegitimar al Jurado por falta de coherencia.

The National Elections Jury and the Special Electorate Jury of Downtown Lima checkmated themselves when they excluded Acuña and most importantly Guzman (the latter in an arbitrary fashion). On the one hand, kicking out Keiko Fujimori means leaving out of the game more than 50 percent of the voters’ intention (considering Keiko Fujimori, Guzman, and Acuña's [supporters]) which would create a sense of illegitimacy. On the other hand, not excluding her is equivalent to committing fraud for a good part of the voters, in addition to making the jury less credible due to a lack of coherence.

Responding to the news that they'll get to vote for their candidate, after all, Keiko supporters took to mocking rivals online:

Suffer reds, suffer. Keiko is running.

Reds and Caviars, Senderistas and Nationalists, Corrupts and Activists, tremble because Keiko is running.

Keiko's critics said they felt deceived:

The law is the law they said. Yes, of course, Keiko is still running for president. Her surname is neither Acuña nor Guzman. This process stinks.

In this way, the electoral authority makes it okay for political parties to have facade groups so they can do what the law forbids. Terrible

Writer Gustavo Faveron was especially pessimistic in a Facebook post, saying he believes fraud will be committed:

Como en los viejos tiempos, la resolución fue hecha pública pasada la medianoche, para evitar las protestas inmediatas, coger de sorpresa a los diarios y eludir los noticiarios de radio y televisión (como si tuvieran que hacerlo). De paso, han esperado a que falten pocas horas para un partido de la selección, para tapar esta aberración jurídica con un poco de circo. Este es el fraude del que estábamos hablando, este es el fujimorismo de siempre, el que tiene licencia para engañar y violar la ley y manipular cualquier norma con la anuencia vergonzosa de los leguleyos apristas y fujimoristas que ambas mafias se han encargado de poner en el JNE. Esta medianoche es el principio real de la segunda dictadura fujimorista.

Just like in the old times, the sentence was made public after midnight to avoid immediate protests, to take the newspapers by surprise, and to avoid the radio and television news shows (as if they had to do it). Also, they waited until a few hours before national soccer team's game, to hide this judicial aberration under a little bit of circus. This is the fraud we were talking about—this is the fujimorismo of always: the one that has permission to deceive and break the law and manipulate any rule with the shameful approval of the bluffing apristas and fujimoristas lawmakers, since both mafias have placed themselves at the JNE. This midnight is the real beginning of the second Fujimori dictatorship.

But things did not end there. The JEE also ruled in favor of Kenji Fujimori, Keiko's brother and a candidate in Peru's congressional race. He was also facing exclusion from the elections, following allegations (not dismissed) that he made a donation.

Javier Prado, a well-known communicator and cartoonist, showed how he felt about the JEE.

The Via Crucis has begun.

*On the image: Guys, Peru is served. Fraud.

Early in the morning on March 24, a rally against the JEE's decision assembled.

A sit-in today at noon in front of the National Elections Jury. Keiko is a no go.

*On the image: Today, sit-in. Keiko is a no go. A call to defend democracy.

A few hundred young people congregated at the San Martin Plaza and in front of the National Elections Jury with signs protesting the decision. People came to express their disapproval for JEE´s decision and stressed the view that the Jury is not treating all candidates equally.

The media had ignored ATV and others. But here is the truth, more are coming in

The hashtag “#Fraud” trended locally on Twitter for several hours.

Fraud is trending. These are the images against JEE and Keiko's sentence

*On the image: You seriously thought the JEE was going to exclude me? Naive!

An appeal against JEE's decision was presented at the National Elections Jury on March 25, 2016

On April 5, a national protest against Keiko Fujimori is planned. Peru's elections are scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 10, 2016.

The original version of this text was published on the blog Globalizado by Juan Arellano.


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