AS/COA Online - Peru's Humala Picks Moderates for Top Cabinet Posts

With a week to go before Ollanta Humala’s inauguration, some observers still wonder which way the next Peruvian president’s political winds will blow. Will the former military-officer-turned-nationalist politician follow the lead of Venezuela’s expropriating President Hugo Chávez or the more moderate ex-leader of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva? For those seeking clues in Humala’s cabinet picks, he appears to not only opt for the second path but also follow in some of the same footsteps as current President Alan García. A day after Humala won the June 5 runoff vote, Peru’s stock market plunged 12.5 percent. But after Humala began making cabinet announcements this week, the Financial Times wrote of “renewed optimism over Peru’s investment climate.” Still, given the tumble Humala’s approval ratings have taken since the election, will the Peruvian public follow suit and support their new president after he takes office July 28?

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AS/COA Online - President-elect Humala and His Path for Peru

All the ballots have been counted, but the jury is still out about which path Ollanta Humala will take when he becomes president of Peru next month. As AS/COA’s Christopher Sabatini put it: “The election guessing game in Peru has ended and now the Humala guessing game has begun.” Throughout Humala’s tight race against conservative Keiko Fujimori and in the wake of the June 5 runoff, observers have repeatedly speculated about whether the former military officer would model himself after Venezuela’s expropriating President Hugo Chávez or take the more moderate course of Brazilian ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Humala’s cabinet picks will help shape the answer to the “Chávez or Lula” question, but Vice President-elect Marisol Espinoza says those won’t be announced before July 10. So what steps has Humala taken thus far to indicate which way he’ll go?
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AS/COA Online - After Tight Race, Humala Wins Peruvian Runoff Vote

After a neck-and-neck race, Ollanta Humala edged out Keiko Fujimori to win the June 5 runoff vote for Peru’s presidency. With over 88 percent of votes tallied on the morning of June 6, Humala had won 51.27 percent of the vote against Fujimori’s 48. 5 percent. Though Fujimori carried Lima, Humala won in a majority of Peru’s regions. A retired military officer, he spent much of his candidacy trying to shake off comparisons with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and replace them with the more centrist model of ex-President of Brazil Inácio Lula da Silva. But his opponent had ghosts of her own; Keiko Fujimori, an ex-legislator, is the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori—now serving time for corruption and human rights abuses carried out under his watch. To some degree, both candidates can thank the centrist candidates in April’s first-round election for dividing the centrist-voter block, thereby letting the left-leaning Humala and the conservative Fujimori advance (Humala won the first round with 31.7 percent against Fujimori’s 23.6 percent). When he takes office next month, Humala faces the challenge of reuniting a country split by a divisive presidential race.

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AS/COA Online - On APEC's Sidelines: Chile, Peru Move on Asian FTAs

President Barack Obama may have fallen short last week when it came to sealing a trade deal with South Korea, but his Peruvian counterpart pulled off a trade pact with Seoul. Just after the Asia-Pacific Cooperation (APEC) summit in Japan, Presidents Alan García and Lee Myung-bak signed an agreement slated to take effect next year. The movement on that trade deal came on the heels of García concluding negotiations on another pact with Japan. But Peru wasn’t the only country deepening Asia ties on the sidelines of the APEC summit: Chile signed a deal with Malaysia and announced the start of trade negotiations with Thailand while President Felipe Calderón of Mexico focused his meetings with Asia-Pacific leaders on upcoming climate change talks in Cancun.

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AS/COA Online | Peru's Race for the Presidency Heats up

Voters in Peru won’t head to the polls to elect their next president until April 2011, but competition is already heating up as more top contenders join the race and with former President Alejandro Toledo announcing his candidacy on November 10. He vies for the top seat against a number of candidates, including the current poll leader and two-term Mayor of Lima Luis Castañeda; Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of incarcerated ex-President Alberto Fujimori; former candidate Ollanta Humala; and Mercedes Aráoz, the ex-finance minister of the García administration. The crowded playing field could lead to a June runoff vote to determine who will next lead the Andean country.

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AS/COA Online | Sec. Gates Tours Region to Boost Security Ties

The Obama administration sought to bolster security ties with Latin American and Caribbean allies this week when U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates traveled to Peru, Colombia, and Barbados. Before kicking off his tour in Lima, Gates and Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim met at the Pentagon on April 12 and signed the two countries’ first bilateral defense pact since 1977. Gates’ hemispheric tour focused on military ties and antinarcotics efforts. But the defense secretary also took the opportunity while in Bogota to voice support for the long-stalled U.S.-Colombia trade pact. 

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