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Far-left candidate leads Peru into run-off presidential polls

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Leftist Castillo in lead with 16 percent of the vote after surprise comeback as Peru deals with economic, COVID crises.

Video Transcript

- Pedro! Pedro! Pedro!

MARIANA SANCHEZ: Rural teacher Pedro Castillo campaigned in remote towns where health care, police, and even the internet are an illusion. Nearly unknown, Castillo won the first round of the vote.


INTERPRETER: While some live in great opulence and dress in ties behind desks with a luxurious life, my brothers, today, place their trust in a man of the people. Those who bite their nails every day whilst waiting for their bread to come have removed their blindfolds.

MARIANA SANCHEZ: Among promises, the 51-year-old union leader says he'll nationalize resources and change the constitution. Aurora Gonzalez says those are Marxist ideas that scare her.


INTERPRETER: I would not vote for Castillo, he's too leftist-extremist. We have no option but to vote for Keiko Fujimori.

MARIANA SANCHEZ: But Keiko Fujimori brings a wealth of problems with the judiciary. She faces 30 years in prison for corruption charges. The 45-year-old daughter of former autocrat leader Alberto Fujimori, jailed for gross human rights violations, says she'll continue her father's legacy of governing with a hard fist.


INTERPRETER: We will confront populism and the radical left, and I know many will join us.

MARIANA SANCHEZ: 65% of Peruvians say they would not vote for her.


INTERPRETER: It's inexplicable, people have no memory. After all what the Fujimori family has done negatively, I have no option but to vote for Castillo. As always, the least worst.

MARIANA SANCHEZ: After five years of political instability, nearly 28% of Peruvians didn't vote, and 2.8 million casted a blank or a nulled ballot.


INTERPRETER: The chronic discontent with the state of things, democracy and politicians, has made people search for an anti-system solution.

MARIANA SANCHEZ: Analysts say whoever wins the presidency will have a problem with legitimacy. Neither candidate was favored with even 20% of the vote. And now, some analysts believe they have to move to the center of their extreme views to win voters.


INTERPRETER: As union leader, Castillo is used to negotiating. He doesn't have an MBA like Keiko, who's never negotiated anything in her life. And if she wins, she won't have a majority in congress, which means she could easily be ousted.

MARIANA SANCHEZ: This five-year term will end in July, with a fifth president sworn in. And for many disenchanted with politics, the new vote will be like choosing between one illness or another. Mariana Sanchez, Al Jazeera, Lima, Peru.