Keiko-jones…

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It was easy to feel for Peruvians by reading the Twitter feeds from people commenting on the, ahem, unsavory choice they are faced with in the 2nd round of Presidential elections.

For the rest of us Latin Americans, the feud between Ollanta Humala and Keiko Fujimori is a kind of proxy Celebrity Death Match between Alberto Fujimori and Hugo Chávez, (literally) fought by their heirs. Two of the continent’s most polarizing historical figures – the hard-right populist dictator versus the hard-left one – in a winner-takes-all!

And yet while we may find the feud enthralling, make no mistake about it. If you’re Peruvian, this choice really sucks.

But democracy is like that. We are forced to choose the lesser of two evils all the time. And this time, it is abundantly clear what all those emergent middle-class limeños need to do come June 5th:

a) go to their nearest polling station;

b) put a handkerchief to their mouths; and

c) vote for Keiko Fujimori.

Seriously, people. Ollanta Humala? We’ve been there. We are there. We know how this story ends, or rather, how it doesn’t end.

No amount of image-tailoring, no infusion of Lula-charm can cover Humala’s deep authoritarian stench. Take Hugo Chávez: take away his wit; add some creepy human rights violations charges; replace bolivarianismo with some half-baked theory called etno-cacerismo; inject a crazy-ass, Senderista-communist father; splash it with a touch of homophobic mother, and you have Ollanta Humala.

Who knows, perhaps Keiko is the best thing that’s ever happened to Lima’s wealthy. The only other choices to save Peru from Humala were PPK, a 72-year old Peruvian-American technocrat with the complexion of someone who has spent too much time playing polo, and Alejandro Toledo, a former President whose best day in office was when his approval ratings reached double digits. Neither of those two had a shot in hell against Humala and his Venezuelan petro-dollars.

But Keiko may be another story. Everyone simply assumes that because Fujimori is a right-winger and Humala is a left-winger, then whoever wins the center wins, right? In that sense, Humala and his “makeover” would have the edge.

But Fujimorismo is such a weird phenomenon, that it can get away with both being right wing *and* appealing to the poor and lower middle classes that usually would tend to vote left. In other words, Fujimori is the type of candidate that, if Humala gets over-confident and tacks to the center too strongly, can attack him from both the left and right flanks.

Don’t get me wrong, she’s awful, as her father was. But do we really think she’s going to become another dictator? Do we see her closing the Peruvian Congress with tanks like her daddy? Is there another Grupo Colina in Peru’s future?

And is it fair to judge Keiko for the sins her father made and that she’s running on?

Yes, we can. And yes, one looks at the choice, and feels like giving up on democracy altogether.

But people, you need to buck up. The choice in this race is clear.

Have your hankies ready. You’ll hate yourselves in the morning, but the alternative is even worse.

#12 … this one was longer.

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1 COMMENT

  1. I virulently disagree. Keiko is absolutely unacceptable as president until she makes one simple statement: my dad was wrong to order the armed forces to murder people falsely suspected of being members of Shining Path.

      • Really? So you would put Ollanta Humala in charge just because Keiko won’t issue the press release you want her to issue?

        Quico, please. This is not the 5th grade. Even if she said that, she doesn’t believe it. Of course Keiko is unacceptable! They both are!

        • We, venezuelans, usually use the word “unacceptable” in a very naive way. You can find venezuelans saying that Antonio Ledezma is “unacceptable”, give me a break!

          • I wrote a post about this, it’ll run near midnight. (Don’t want to make Juan’s posts sink down on the page right away.)

    • And people who were correctly accused of belonging to Shining Path, an organization that routinely and ramdomly massacred? I shed no tears for their deaths. For trials involving Sendero Luminoso, judges wore hoods so that Sendero Luminoso could not identify them and murder them when they were outside the courtroom.

      Whom did Fujimori order killed whom he knew had been falsely accused of belonging to Sendero Luminoso? You apparently know more than I do.

      As I see it, the issue with Fujimori is not what he did with Shining Path- anyone whose administration captures that POS a.k.a. Comandante Gonzalo deserves a lot of credit. For all of Quico’s concern about false accusations and murder, that capture was very clean: incredibly good police work. The issue with Fujimori is that in the aftermath of Comandante Gonzalo’s capture he tried to set himself up as a caudillo.

      As the daughter of a wannabe caudillo, I would agree that Keiko is suspect. Dynasty and all that.

  2. I’m not too familiar with Peruvian internal politics. When did Ollanta Humala make his final break with his brother and supposedly ditch etnocacerismo? He was basically a Peruvian fascist for a while and even helped lead a cuartelazo in 2000, so when did he become acceptable for public consumption? And why isn’t his past bigger news in serious outlets?

  3. To imagine that the Peruvian government moved heaven and earth (or so it seemed from declarations from various officials) to bring Fujimori (the father) back from exile to face trial for his crimes and now the rest of Peru is facing the prospect of choosing between his progeny and Chavez’ lackey in the run-off.

    In a way, Peruvians are like my parents: they like the idea of a strong leader who can “make things right” but do not want to live under such a rule themselves, which is why they live in New York. Peruvians who voted for either Ollanta or Keiko might fall into the category of those who believe that their problems could be solved by electing someone who promises to clamp down on those who, they believe, are the cause of their problems. That and giveaways of money and food.

    [Thank you! -ed]

  4. I agree Keiko is unacceptable, but so is Humala

    Has he said anything about his brother’s uprising where 4 policemen died?
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/spanish/latin_america/newsid_4144000/4144497.stm

    Has he said anything about his mother who would want homosexuals to be shot?
    http://blogs.ubc.ca/peru/2006/03/23/updated-elena-tasso-de-humala-mother-of-candidate-ollanta-humala-calls-for-homosexuals-to-be-shot/

    We know Humala is just another Chavez, there is no doubt about it. At least with Keiko there is the small possibility that she won’t resemble her father. Think of Alan Garcia, his 2nd government was the complete opposite of the 1st one. Plus terrorism is Peru is basically erradicated which makes it harder for her to push for authoritarian moves like a self coup…

    And again, they are both terrible….

    • people are really walking around like chicken with thier heads cut off

      And whoever wrote this article, is of course completey biased which in unporfessional. But to think the lesser of two evils, I think is a way for people who don’t want to face reality, to just cry and complain, but guess what it’s a wold we’ve built and the peruvian people I am sure have reasons why the decided to take these two candidates to the 2nd round.

      As the date for elections nears: ALMOST EVERY SINGLE MEDIA SOURCE HAVE BEEN BOUGHT AND FABRICATE INFORMATIONS TO BENIFIT THE OTHER, NOW YOU CALL THAT DEMOCRACY? AND NOW YOU WILL TELL ME THAT HER INTENTIONS ARE GOOD?

      WHOEVER I AM RESPONDING TO, GET A GRIP ON LIFE, AND GUUESS WHAT? AS LONG AS PERUVIANS WILL LIVE IN A WOLD OF “SUPPOSSITION” THE SAME CORRUPT GOVERNMENT WILL CONTINUE.

      ANOTHER LITTLE FUN FACT, HAVEN’T ALL THE REST OF THE FOREIGN PRESIDENTS BEEN CORRUPT? I WONDER WHY, MAYBE YOU SHOULD ASK DO THEY HAVE THE BEST INTEREST IN THE COUNTRY AS A NATIVE PERUVIAN WOULD? I’LL LEAVE THAT UP TO YOU TO DECIDE WITH SOME EFFORT HOPEFULLY THIS TIME

  5. Correction, the alternative is Unthinkable.

    And thank the framers of the Peruvian Constitution for second round of balloting. It was specifically designed to prevent unthinkable candidates from reaching office. And to save voters from their own desires.

    Of course, idiots manage to work around idiot-proof systems, as Peruvians have demonstrated so brilliantly. They now have to select between two different, and differently virulent brands of authoritarianism. She: a right wing authoritarian, unrepentant, a former member of a dictatorship. He: a nationalist, a socialist, a racist; a national-socialist. Whew! At least she, being of obvious Japanese ancestry, cannot scramble Peru in some attempt at going back to some dead Inca past which is more mythology than fact.

    Politics as in electing people to have power, is the closest to (mythical) supernatural wish-making and deal-signing in (real) human experience. You can even sign away your own children to debt, serfdom or even the opportunity for horrible death in war.

    • well that explains it: you are simply an idiot. here is why, you are so dilusional and where have you gotten your information from?

      people are really walking around like chicken with thier heads cut off

      And whoever wrote this article, is of course completey biased which in unporfessional. But to think the lesser of two evils, I think is a way for people who don’t want to face reality, to just cry and complain, but guess what it’s a wold we’ve built and the peruvian people I am sure have reasons why the decided to take these two candidates to the 2nd round.

      As the date for elections nears: ALMOST EVERY SINGLE MEDIA SOURCE HAVE BEEN BOUGHT AND FABRICATE INFORMATIONS TO BENIFIT THE OTHER, NOW YOU CALL THAT DEMOCRACY? AND NOW YOU WILL TELL ME THAT HER INTENTIONS ARE GOOD?

      WHOEVER I AM RESPONDING TO, GET A GRIP ON LIFE, AND GUUESS WHAT? AS LONG AS PERUVIANS WILL LIVE IN A WOLD OF “SUPPOSSITION” THE SAME CORRUPT GOVERNMENT WILL CONTINUE.

      ANOTHER LITTLE FUN FACT, HAVEN’T ALL THE REST OF THE FOREIGN PRESIDENTS BEEN CORRUPT? I WONDER WHY, MAYBE YOU SHOULD ASK DO THEY HAVE THE BEST INTEREST IN THE COUNTRY AS A NATIVE PERUVIAN WOULD? I’LL LEAVE THAT UP TO YOU TO DECIDE WITH SOME EFFORT HOPEFULLY THIS TIME

  6. “But democracy is like that. We are forced to choose the lesser of two evils all the time.”

    Not quite true. Democracy is not what’s like that. It’s not a flaw of democracy but of the voting systems that have been implemented to attempt to be democratic. For example, a radio station that wishes to maximize the number of listeners fails when it merely asks its listeners to vote for the songs they want to hear. This is because the distribution of tastes of listeners is a normal bell, but so is the distribution of songs available on which to vote. So the few, most extreme songs get a concentration of extreme voters, disproportionate to their population, whereas the many, most normal songs get their votes divided by the high number of normal voters. It would behoove a radio manager to, instead, ask which songs people like least, then avoid those most.

    Going back to politics, if Peruvians had been asked not only who they liked most, but also who they liked least, the results would have been almost opposite, the extremes canceling each other out. But this is difficult to implement. The easiest way, I believe, is simply asking each voter for his choice between every pair combination of candidates. The math is simple in obtaining the candidate that would produce the greatest national happiness, with the least national unhappiness. That is, not trying to make the *biggest* group happiest, but the *total* population happiest.

      • I would accept that what I’m talking about is “akin” to preferencial voting, but the seemingly minor differences produce very different results.

        In preferencial voting and given five candidates, these would be ranked from 1 through 5.

        In what I’m talking about and given five candidates, these would be paired, randomly and in random order: AB AC AD AE BC BD BE CD CE DE. Voters would choose, for each pair, which of the two candidates they would prefere if those two were on the final round. The number of pairs, can be reduced using dynamic systems that deduce, for example, if B is preferred over A, and C over B, then we don’t need to ask about C over A.

        The first thing to point out is that in all related studies people invariably do better at expressing their intent in paired choices, rather than a choice amidst many.

        The second thing to point out is that this alternative is equivalent to carrying out a second round for every possible paired outcome. With that information, one can easily calculate the candidate that best represents the total population’s happiness, rather than merely determining the favorite of the largest group.

        Ideally, but harder to implement, not only would one ask whom a voter prefers, but also by how much (e.g., a lot, a little, same). That information would give us an almost exact measure of true voter intent.

        Finally, and this is my biggest push, is changing the system so that, regardless of electoral method used, citizens can optionally vote in on any decision that their representatives vote on. If a representative for the state X represents a population Y, then his vote in government counts for Y votes, unless a group of people Z decided to opt in with a different vote, in which case the representative for X represents Y-Z votes, and Z votes are counted against the government representative. With this opt-in voting feature, errors in candidate elections are minimized because voters still get to affect any issues that they hold dear, at any time, during the whole of any regime.

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