Protests mount in Peru ahead of run-off

Lima was treated to the spectacle of topless women being tear-gassed by police at a protest outside the Congress building against a new law to toughen strictures on abortion. Riot police broke up the semi-nude sit-in organized by feminist groups to oppose the pending legislation, which would impose penalties of 50 days community service on women who seek an abortion. Many of the women wrote “KEIKO NO VA” (Stop Keiko) on their torsos—a reference to right-wing presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori, who has recently taken a hard line on abortion, now opposing it even in cases of rape. Protesters also recalled her intransigent support for her father, imprisoned ex-dictator Alberto Fujimori, who carried out a campaign of forced sterilization of peasant women during his period in power in the 1990s. (Now This, StarMedia, May 20; El Comercio, May 19; La RepĂșblica, May 3)

There were also protests earlier this month by family members of the nine students from La Cantuta University who were killed in a July 1992 massacre at the hands of a Fujimori death-squad. In an unsubtle message, the word “KEIKO” in giant block letters was painted along with the insignia of her Fuerza Popular party at the site where the students were tortured to death, burned, and buried in a mass grave. The remains were exhumed following an investigation in 2008. The massacre was said to be a response to the Shining Path bombing days earlier on the upscale Tarata street that left 20 dead—but nothing indicated the students had been involved. Avelino GuillĂ©n, the prosecutor who led the investigation into the massacre, has been an outspoken opponent of the younger Fujimori’s candidacy, syaing that a vote for Keiko “is a vote for her father.” (La RepĂșblica, May 5; Ojo, May 10)

In an unlikely development that points to splits in Peru’s indigenous movement, a leader of the AwajĂșn people, Santiago Manuin, has declared his support for Keiko Fujimori—a position that was promptly repudiated in a statement from the Permanent Council of the AwajĂșn-Wampis People (CPPAW). Fujimori will face centrist candidate Pedro Pablo Kuczynksi in a June 5 run-off election. (La Mula, La Mula, May 13)