Socialist farmer Pedro Castillo ahead in Peru’s contested presidential election

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June 11 (UPI) — Socialist candidate Pedro Castillo is the apparent victor in Peru’s presidential election, but legal challenges persist.

While the final vote count is not yet in, it appears Castillo has defeated Keiko Fujimori by only 76,000 votes in the 32 million-strong nation, El Pais reported.

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Castillo ran on a socialist agenda emphasizing wealth distribution. Over the next five years, he has plans to nationalize industry in Peru, home to the world’s 48th largest economy.

“No more poor people in a rich country,” was a common campaign slogan for Castillo.

That message apparently resonated in the nation, where 20.2% of residents qualify as impoverished, according to the World Bank.

Castillo, a virtual unknown, will also be up against opposition parties, which won a controlling number of seats in Congress, Americas Quarterly reported.

One of the pillars of Castillo’s platform is nationalizing industry in the country.

Peru is home to some of the world’s most important mining operations pricing copper, zinc, lead, silver and gold. The nation also is also a prodigious exporter of fishing catches, textiles and agricultural products and textiles goods to China, Brazil and the United States. Peru is known for its illicit coca and cocaine exports.

Castillo plans to call for a constitutional assembly to focus on changes on economics including increasing taxes on businesses.

The country has seen economic improvements over the past two decades with poverty dropping from 58.7% in 2004, but corruption is still a problem.

Former president Martín Vizcarra was impeached twice before being removed from office last last year for “moral incapacity.”

Castillo’s opponent is Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of former authoritarian president Alberto Fujimori, who was in office from 1990 until 2000 until he fled the country amid backlash over abuse of power. He was impeached and later imprisoned for human rights abuses, including the use of death squads, and embezzlement. Fujimori was criticized after defending parts of her father’s legacy.

Fujimori called for the votes at 800 sites to be annulled and has alleged fraud occurred in the election. It could take about two weeks before results are finalized by the National Election Board, El Pais reported.