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Et tu, Perú?

1 February 2011

With Otto (Inca Kola News) taking a well-deserved vacation, SOMEBODY has to keep up with the goings on in Peru.  I’ll leave the business news to the business guys, but wanted to pass this along, the latest in the upcoming Presidential election (first round of voting 10 April, with an expected second round between the top two finishers).

Otto predicts “This campaign is about to get very dirty.”  It appears that former President Alejandro Toledo (Perú Posible) has a commanding lead, but not enough to avoid a run-off.  The big fight is for second place, with Luis Casteñada (Solidaridad Nacional) and ex-dictator Alberto Fujimori’s daughter, Keiko Fujimori (Fuerza 2011) fighting it out between them, and both angling for undecided, other, and uncommitted voters.  Which has opened up an unexpected campaign issue, one nearly every party with even a ghost of a chance of obtaining more than five percent of the vote (with the exception of conservative populist, Ollanta Humala — far behind and losing support) has come out in favor of … gay civil unions.

Isabel Guerra (Global Voices, Español) writes (my translation):

Ex-president Alejandro Toledo (Perú Posible party), who leads in election polls, says his program includes gay civil unions and that he will work “for an inclusive society.  This is not a repressive state.” Manuel Rodriguez Cuadros, the Fuerza Social candidate, has gone further, declaring his support for a reform in Peruvian laws to accommodate same-gender marriages.  Other candidates have suggested less radical legal steps,  Luis Castañeda (Solidaridad Nacional) has proposed providing survivors benefits to same-gender partners, while  Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (Alianza por el Gran Cambio) and Keiko Fujimori (Fuera 2011) both propose establishing civil unions.

Guerra — reading the “twitter” and on-line tea-leaves notes there is a polemical discussion, and some detractors.  The Peruvian gay/lesbian news-site, Deambiante.com in an undated report, mentions a Fujimorista legislator, Carlos Raffo, twittering a rather bitter rejection (on behalf of his party) of same-gender marriage… although it appears the Fujimoristas would reluctantly support civil unions.

In Perú or anywhere else, campaign promises — especially in close elections —  seek to find more reasons to vote for the candidate than the candidate will lose by making the promise.  With even conservatives like Fujimori seem to be looking for some way to bring in new voters while not offending the “base.”    None of the expected winners are willing to bet that support for “an inclusive society in Perú” will turn on more voters than it will turn off on election day.

In México, marriage laws are written at the state, not national, level, and there hasn’t been much push for same-gender marriage laws in the various states, as of yet, but after the Federal District changed its marriage laws to allow for same-gender unions, there has been almost no backlash and it seems in Latin America there is little downside to such proposals.

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