Pedro Castillo rejects accusations of illegal funding for his election campaign

Anti-corruption prosecutor Bonnie Bautista accused the alleged criminal organisation 'Los Dinámicos de Centro' of backing the leftist party Perú Libre with irregular funds
  AFP/LUKAS GONZALEZ  -   El candidato presidencial peruano de izquierda por el partido Perú Libre, Pedro Castillo, da un discurso a sus partidarios desde un balcón en su sede de campaña durante su mitin de cierre en Lima el 3 de junio de 2021

AFP/LUKAS GONZALEZ  -   Peru's leftist presidential candidate for the Peru Libre party, Pedro Castillo, gives a speech to supporters from a balcony at his campaign headquarters during his closing rally in Lima on June 3, 2021

The Peruvian political scene is intensifying. Accusations of electoral fraud by right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori after her defeat at the polls have been followed by accusations of irregular financing against Peru Libre, the political platform of president-elect Pedro Castillo.

Prosecutor Bonnie Bautista, from the Second Provincial Office of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office of Junín, accused on Sunday the members of the alleged criminal organisation known as 'Los Dinámicos del Centro' of "introducing illicit funds into the national economy, which would also have been used to finance political campaigns of the regional government in power".

Bautista has requested a total of 36 months of pre-trial detention for the 20 alleged members of the organisation. The structure, which operated within the regional government of Junín, was allegedly enriched through the trafficking of "brevetes", i.e. driving licences, in order to subsequently finance Castillo's party. 

REUTERS/ANGELA PONCE - La candidata presidencial de la derecha de Perú, Keiko Fujimori, que se enfrentará al candidato socialista Pedro Castillo en una segunda vuelta el 6 de junio, se dirige a los medios de comunicación, en Lima, Perú, el 8 de mayo de 2021
REUTERS/ANGELA PONCE - Peru's right-wing presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori, who will face socialist candidate Pedro Castillo in a run-off on June 6, addresses the media, in Lima, Peru, May 8, 2021.

"The objective was to finance the political campaign of the political party in power," Bautista emphasised, referring to Perú Libre. A party which, moreover, presented candidates for the Presidency of the Republic and for Congress, added the representative of the Public Prosecutor's Office.

This is not the first time that the Marxist-Leninist platform has been involved in problems with the justice system. The doctor and founder of Perú Libre, who governed in the Junín region between 2011 and 2014, and then in 2019, Vladimir Cerrón, has been convicted of involvement in several corruption cases.

The convictions against the president include an annulled sentence that allowed him to return to institutional office. Although Cerrón, linked to the Bolivian and Venezuelan governments, was permanently suspended in 2019, just seven months after returning to office.

AFP/ERNESTO BENAVIDES - El candidato presidencial peruano de izquierda por el partido Perú Libre, Pedro Castillo (Centro) acompañado de su familia, participa en un desayuno abierto a la prensa durante la jornada electoral en su casa en Chugur, región Cajamarca, noreste de Perú, el 06 de junio de 2021

In addition, some of Peru Libre's militants are accused of irregularities in the issuing of driving licences and influence peddling.

In the face of these accusations, the leftist Pedro Castillo flatly denied having received irregular financing during the electoral campaign and placed himself at the disposal of the justice system. "This campaign was made by the people," he said.

"Out of respect for the people, I am going to come clean and submit myself to any kind of investigation", declared the Peru Libre candidate. 

Castillo claimed that the campaign's economic base is based on the funds of his supporters. "We cannot be subjecting ourselves to criminal acts and corruption. I reject this categorically. I will be the first to come out and say so, starting with my own entourage," he added.

AFP/MIGUEL PAREDES  -   La candidata presidencial peruana de derecha por el partido Fuerza Popular, Keiko Fujimori, habla a la multitud durante un mitin en el centro de Lima, el 12 de junio de 2021
AFP/MIGUEL PAREDES  -  Peruvian right-wing presidential candidate for the Popular Force party, Keiko Fujimori, speaks to the crowd during a rally in central Lima on June 12, 2021.

"I totally reject and condemn [the prosecutor's version]. They've seen the campaign and they've seen how people reached for plates of food, they gave me accommodation. If you have to take a stand against corruption, then you have to do it. I would be ashamed if part of my entourage received crumbs because we are here for Peru and for the country," he said. 

The Latin American country is waiting to know the next president of the country until the official confirmation of the institutions once the process of supervision of the 270 requests for annulment by the electoral tribunal has been completed.

Peru Libre's candidate led Fuerza Popular's Keiko Fujimori by 40,000 votes in the second round of the election. The right-wing party then called for the annulment of the polling stations in which Castillo won, but neither the authorities nor international observers have detected any irregularities during the elections.

AP/MARTIN MEJIA - Más de una semana después de la segunda vuelta de las elecciones presidenciales entre Castillo y Keiko Fujimori, las autoridades electorales dicen que están escrutando un pequeño número de papeletas en medio de denuncias de fraude no probadas por parte de Fujimori
AP/MARTIN MEJIA - More than a week after the second round of the presidential election between Castillo and Keiko Fujimori

The daughter of the dictator who ruled Peru with an iron fist between 1990 and 2000, Alberto Fujimori, has charged against her adversary: "We have read the allegations about 'Los Dinámicos del Centro', we know how they have financed the fraud at the table, what we are seeing is the beginning of the thread of the skein, the truth will come to light, do not continue covering the sun with a finger".

Keiko Fujimori demanded that the President of the Republic not validate an "illegitimate" candidate, in reference to Castillo. "President Francisco Sagasti has abdicated his great responsibility to guarantee fair elections on equal terms. In the name of a supposed "impartiality" he has preferred to step aside and leave all Peruvians in the dark and electoral uncertainty," the right-wing candidate tweeted. 

"Sagasti] could have gone down in history as a fair man who stood up for democracy for the benefit of all Peruvians, but his response shows us that he prefers to be recorded as a president by accident. Despite this great disappointment, our struggle will not stop," said Fujimori in his crusade against Peruvian institutions.

For his part, the leader of Perú Libre made official his moderate turn to reassure the other part of the electorate and declared that his administration as president of the country will be carried out within the framework of the current Magna Carta, thus definitively abandoning his previous intention to hold a referendum to reform the Constitution.

Latin America Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra.