Opus Dei, leftist, former goalie: who's who in Peru election race?

Marco Aquino and Maria Cervantes
·4-min read
A combination picture shows Peru's presidential candidates in Lima

By Marco Aquino and Maria Cervantes

LIMA (Reuters) - Peru will vote for a new president on Sunday after a year of political turmoil, with a focus on the coronavirus pandemic, economic revival, corruption and mining policy in the world's no. 2 copper producer.

With a fragmented field, the April 11 vote is not expected to yield an outright winner, which would lead to a run-off on June 6. With many Peruvians weary of politics, the race is one of the most unpredictable for years.

YONHY LESCANO - THE LEADER

Lescano, 62, is a seasoned legislator who balances a man-of-the-people image of leftist economics while being socially conservative. He leads in opinion polls but with only just above 10% support.

He has pledged to renegotiate a fairer distribution of mining wealth, bring down gas prices, create a state airline and push private banks to lower interest rates.

VERÓNIKA MENDOZA - THE LEFTIST

Mendoza, 40, has climbed in recent polls. She is seen with a wary eye by markets, worried by her support for a referendum for a new constitution to give the state a more active role to intervene in "strategic sectors."

The anthropologist, who was born in Cusco and studied psychology in France, where she also has nationality, has worked at an indigenous research center and in human rights. She ran for president in 2016, coming in third place.

She wants to review tax exemptions for larger firms and create a wealth tax for the super-rich. She has also proposed taking temporary control of the production and supply of medical oxygen, due to shortages amid the pandemic.

KEIKO FUJIMORI - THE POLITICAL HEIR

Fujimori, 45, is the eldest daughter of imprisoned ex-president Alberto Fujimori, a political powerhouse in the country before his downfall over human rights and corruption convictions. She has competed twice before, coming close in 2016.

The U.S.-educated conservative free-market supporter has proposed unlocking large mining projects to boost the economy, and pledged to create 2 million jobs building schools, medical centers and roads.

Despite a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, Fujimori has advocated easing some restrictions to allow some firms and restaurants to operate longer hours. She also is promising a tough stance on crime and police reform.

Fujimori herself faces an investigation over alleged money laundering and receiving $1.2 million from Brazilian firm Odebrecht, for which prosecutors are seeking a 31-year prison sentence. She denies the charges.

HERNANDO DE SOTO - THE ECONOMIST

The 79-year-old economist would continue expansionary fiscal and monetary policy to help revive the economy and has backed strong border controls against "foreign criminals."

He has supported allowing private firms to help accelerate Peru's stalled COVID-19 vaccination program. "Private community sectors and NGOs are going to compete with each other to give the best vaccines," he told local TV.

In late March, De Soto admitted that he had traveled to the United States to get vaccinated against COVID-19, which sparked widespread criticism.

GEORGE FORSYTH - THE SOCCER STAR

The former national soccer team goalkeeper, Forsyth led in polls last year but has slipped in recent months. He has fronted a campaign to clean up Peruvian politics, which has long been dogged by corruption.

The 38-year-old former mayor of a district of Lima, who usually sports jeans and a shirt, has pledged to cut red tape in the mining sector and create a mining "trust" to help bolster royalties paid by firms to the state.

Forsyth has also pledged to reform Peru's pension system and improve health coverage for older citizens.

RAFAEL LÓPEZ ALIAGA - OPUS DEI

López Aliaga, a hotel and railway magnate, is an ultra-conservative member of Opus Dei often compared to Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro.

The 60-year-old, who has embraced the nickname 'Porky' after the famous cartoon pig, has played up his socially conservative credentials including opposing abortion and gay marriage, gaining support from some voters for his fiery and direct style.

López Aliaga has pledged to streamline government, bring down gas prices and expel Brazilian company Odebrecht from the country after it took bribes to win public works.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino and Maria Cervantes; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)