'No evidence whatsoever': Left refutes right-wing candidate's election fraud claims -- in Peru
Keiko Fujimori (AFP)

Progressives pushed back forcefully on Tuesday against right-wing Peruvian presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori's allegations of fraud in Sunday's election, saying there has been no evidence so support such claims.

"There is a clear intention to boycott the popular will," Fujimori asserted at a press conference Monday at which she pointed without evidence to "irregularities" and "signs of fraud."

"Through a tragic pandemic, a dizzying media campaign, and a severe economic crisis, the Peruvian people have mobilized to exercise their right to popular sovereignty. Our obligation now is to defend it." —Progressive International

The allegations of fraud from Keiko Fujimori, a former dictator's daughter, came as voting results showed leftist rival Pedro Castillo with a narrow lead.

A tally of about 95% of the votes showed Castillo with 50.3% of the vote compared to Fujimori's 49.7%.

Fujimori, whom Bloomberg described as a "market favorite," is the daughter of the nation's former dictator, ex-President Alberto Fujimori, currently serving a 25-year sentence in prison for his role in civilian massacres and graft. Keiko Fujimori has said she would pardon her father if elected.

According to The Associated Press:

Voters across Peru, where voting is mandatory, headed to the polls throughout Sunday under a set schedule meant to minimize long lines. No disturbances were reported at voting sites, which even opened in San Miguel del Ene, a remote village in a cocaine-producing area where two weeks ago a massacre ended with 16 people dead.
Pre-election polls indicated the candidates were virtually tied heading into the runoff. In the first round of voting, featuring 18 candidates, neither received more than 20% support and both were strongly opposed by sectors of Peruvian society.

Regional election observers did not report any voting irregularities, as the Guardian noted.

In a statement Tuesday, the Progressive International strongly rejected Fujimori's fraud accusations and urged "patience and vigilance as the final results are counted—especially in the face of fresh attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the democratic process."

"The delegation of the Progressive International has seen no evidence of systemic fraud in the course of the 2021 Peruvian presidential elections. Neither statistical models analyzing results in real time nor our time physical monitoring of this process have revealed any evidence of fraud," the group said.

The impacts of false accusations of election fraud are clear and dangerous, the Progressive International added. The group pointed to examples including U.S. President Donald Trump catalyzing the "revanchist attack on the U.S. Capitol in order to 'stop the steal'" and the 2019 U.S.-backed coup in Bolivia that ousted the democratically elected government of Evo Morales following unsubstantiated allegations of election fraud.

"Through a tragic pandemic, a dizzying media campaign, and a severe economic crisis, the Peruvian people have mobilized to exercise their right to popular sovereignty. Our obligation now is to defend it," the Progressive International said.

David Adler, General Coordinator of the Progressive International, added in a tweet Tuesday that as "Castillo's lead has grown, this grim prediction has come to pass: Keiko Fujimori is now making accusations of 'systematic fraud'—and bringing large parts of the mainstream press with her."

"Our team is clear," Adler wrote. "There is no evidence *whatsoever* to support Keiko's claim."

And, should Castillo emerge victorious, it would be historic, write CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin and Latin American policy expert Leonardo Flores.

His win would "be remarkable not only because he is a leftist teacher who is the son of illiterate peasants and his campaign was grossly outspent by Fujimori, but there was a relentless propaganda attack against him that touched on historical fears of Peru's middle class and elites," Benjamin and Flores wrote.

A Castillo victory would also "represent a huge blow to U.S. interests in the region and an important step towards reactivating Latin American integration. He has promised to withdraw Peru from the Lima Group, an ad hoc committee of countries dedicated to regime change in Venezuela," the pair wrote.