Former President García Appears Headed for Victory in Peru

The Post’s article on last Sunday’s presidential runoff in Peru (“Former President García Appears Headed for Victory in Peru,” June 5) perpetuates the rumor that Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez’s irresponsible meddling in that country’s internal affairs gave Alan García his win. While it is a certainty that leftist opposition candidate Ollanta Humala was hurt by the perception of his close ties with Chávez, the issue was initiated and fueled by García’s – not Chávez’s – inflammatory comments.

While there was certainly some anti-Chávez sentiment directed against Humala before the war of words began, the populist candidate clearly led the race in its initial stages in early April. The verbal spar began later that month, when Chávez announced that Venezuela would drop out of the Andean Community (CAN) trade bloc due to deals signed between the United States and CAN member states, including Peru. In a calculated move, García responded over national radio, calling Chávez an oil-rich hypocrite and emphasizing Humala’s ties to the Venezuelan president. While Humala attempted to distance himself from the issue and asked Chávez to ignore the provocation, García persisted, deftly utilizing popular fear of foreign influence by igniting Chávez’s famously fiery rhetoric. In May, García’s machinations paid off, and he forged ahead in the polls.

If García truly wanted Peru’s elections to be free from outside influence, he should have refrained from purposely needling Chávez as a device to turn attention away from his own nefarious past presidency. One can only hope that García will now reject the political opportunism he recently practiced in order to move Peru forward.