Monday, June 05, 2006

Peru's Alan Garcia wins runoff election over Humala

World: It will be interesting to see how hard other candidates in upcoming elections in Nicaragua and Mexico run away from Chavez.

LIMA, Peru (Reuters) - Former President Alan Garcia beat a fiery ex-army nationalist in Peru's runoff election on Sunday, staging a political comeback after his 1980s government ended in economic ruin, rebel violence and accusations of rights abuses. The result is a blow for Venezuela's President Hugh Chavez, who sparked a diplomatic spat with Peru after trying to take advantage of a populist anti-U.S. tide in Latin America by supporting Ollanta Humala, a former army commander. With 77 percent of the ballots counted, Garcia, who portrays himself as a left-of-center democrat, won about 55 percent of the vote and Humala, who spooked many middle-class Peruvians with calls for a revolution against the rich, had some 45 percent of votes. Humala conceded defeat but vowed to battle for his nationalist revolution to help half the Peruvians who are poor. A jubilant Garcia waved a white handkerchief -- a traditional victory symbol of his APRA party -- as thousands of supporters gathered outside his campaign headquarters in Lima and fireworks filled the sky. "Today, Peru has sent a message of national sovereignty and has defeated efforts by Hugo Chavez to incorporate us in the expansion strategy of his military and backward-looking model, which he's tried to implant in Latin America," Garcia said.
The voters are still unhappy because neither candidate is worth much in their eyes.
"Many Peruvians apparently voted for Garcia -- dubbed "Latin America's Kennedy" when he was first elected to the presidency at the age of 35 -- seeing him as the lesser of two evils and less hostile to business. "It's a sad day. Neither of them is a good candidate," said 45-year-old psychologist Ida Blanc after she cast her vote for Garcia in an upper middle-class neighborhood of Lima. "
The Chavez backlash should not come as a surprise as the Post editorial spelled out something I hit on a couple of weeks ago.
Now at last, Mr. Chavez is the object of a growing backlash from leaders around Latin America -- from Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Mexico and Nicaragua, among other countries. In part, the politicians are responding to foolish overreaching by Mr. Chavez, who has been busy trying to turn Bolivia into a satellite state while suggesting he has similar plans for much of the rest of the continent. Latin Americans don't like imperialism, whether it comes from Washington or Caracas. And even leftist leaders, like those who rule in Brazil and elsewhere in South America, find it hard to imagine themselves prospering in a Venezuela-led economic bloc that includes Cuba but shuns the United States.
Chavez opened his yap one too many times. Now he has to shut up or continue to blather on with his chosen candidates in upcoming elections. There is no chance of him shutting up so it will be interesting to see if he tones down his message or just get worse. The best thing for the White House to do is stay quiet and do some moves economically and diplomatically with other countries that may be going left but not hard left as Chavez and Morales to isolate both even more.

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