Presidential candidate Pedro Castillo is surrounded by journalists in Lima last week.

Martin Mejia/AP


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Martin Mejia/AP


Presidential candidate Pedro Castillo is surrounded by journalists in Lima last week.

Martin Mejia/AP

LIMA, Peru — Rural teacher-turned-political novice Pedro Castillo on Monday became the winner of Peru’s presidential election after the country’s longest electoral count in 40 years.

Castillo, whose supporters included Peru’s poor and rural citizens, defeated right-wing politician Keiko Fujimori by just 44,000 votes. Electoral authorities released the final official results more than a month after the runoff election took place in the South American nation.

Wielding a pencil the size of a cane, symbol of his Peru Libre party, Castillo popularized the phrase “No more poor in a rich country.” The economy of Peru, the world’s second-largest copper producer, has been crushed by the coronavirus pandemic, increasing the poverty level to almost one-third of the population and eliminating the gains of a decade.

Historians say he is the first peasant to become president of Peru, where until now, Indigenous people almost always have received the worst of the deficient public services even though the nation boasted of being the economic star of Latin America in the first two decades of the century.



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