A failure to reform Peru is poised to produce a lurch to the far left

A failure to reform Peru is poised to produce a lurch to the far left

F of this century Peru stood out in Latin America as a success. The economy grew at an annual average rate of 5.6% between 2001 and 2016, while the share of those living below the national poverty line fell from above 60% to 21% over the same period. Inequality fell, too, as the incomes of people living in the Andes, long the poorest area, grew faster than the national average. Like Chile and Colombia, which also did well economically, Peru pursued free-market economic policies and export-led growth, eschewing the statist protectionism that has held back Argentina and Brazil. Progress has largely halted, first because of political conflicts that produced four presidents (and eight finance ministers) in five years. Then came the pandemic, which has killed 190,000 Peruvians and pushed 3m into poverty. Now Peru’s future has been held hostage by a divisive presidential run-off election. With nearly all the votes counted, Pedro Castillo, a rural schoolteacher, subsistence farmer and union leader, was winning by a hair’s breadth against Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of Alberto Fujimori, the conservative who ruled the …
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