Photo credits: Alejandra Riveros
By Alejandra Riveros
October 27th, 2021 at 8:00 P.M. EST.
“No mas pobres en un país rico”, this slogan will stay with Peruvians for the next four years, or however long Pedro Castillo stays in power. As millions of Peruvians watched that first electoral newsflash, Pedro Castillo’s name appeared as the majority’s vote. But, Who is Pedro Castillo? Where did he come from? And how did he win? Many had not even heard his name before that electoral newsflash.
Everyone I knew was arguing whether Hernando de Soto or Rafael Lopez-Aliaga was the best option for president. These candidates did not even make it to the second round. Was my socio-economic circle so small and limited that I didn’t even know about the candidate that most of my country thought was the most suited?
Regardless, we had a new president: Pedro Castillo, a left-wing schoolteacher whose political career included only one teacher strike and one failed attempt at mayorship of the small town Anguia, which I had not heard about either. I heard all my friends complaining about the ignorance in our country and how they couldn’t believe people voted for Pedro Castillo; after all, he is a leftist candidate, and he has almost no political experience. Our other candidates were far more prepared, with engineering or economics degrees, and recognition around the globe.
I heard family members talk about how the Peruvian people don’t know the consequences of socialism. I heard that, with everything that’s going on in Venezuela and Cuba, people need to be more aware. I know what they mean, now that I live in the US I have had several friends share their stories with me. Stories about seeking political asylum, fleeing their country, the struggles of not having a green card, and many other things that I did not wish upon my people. Socialism does not carry a positive meaning in Latin America. I understood what they meant. Nevertheless, as I heard more variations of the same statement, I started to notice something crucial: we were the worst kind of ignorant.
I know now how Pedro Castillo won, and it’s simple but it disappoints; he was the first person in a long time that gave the lower/middle-class Peruvian hope, the first in a long time to listen to them. My friends, family, and I don’t understand what it’s like to walk two hours only to get our kids to school, not finishing elementary school because we must start working and helping our family, having to support our kids on less than $5 a day. We do not know what it feels like to be neglected, forgotten. We didn’t understand, and we probably never will. I don’t know if Peru Libre (Pedro Castillo’s political party) understands either, but at least they make people feel like they do; they give people hope that one day they won’t have to live like this anymore. I started to reflect and realized that, if I were in the same situation as the lower-class Peruvian citizens, I would have probably voted for Pedro Castillo as well.
I hope this electoral process serves as a wake-up call to all government officials, representatives, congress officers, and Peruvian citizens, regardless of their opinions towards Pedro Castillo. I hope we can start implementing political, social, and economic measures that will result in fewer disparities between classes. I hope we realize, as we should have a long time ago, that these elections are the results of a population that refuses to be neglected anymore. Instead of judging and criticizing “ignorance”, I hope we start to fix our own ignorance and start aiming towards true equality and compassion.
Alejandra Riveros is an honors college student at Miami Dade College - Padron Campus. She is the Secretary of the Student Government Association, a member of the Corazon Contento Happy Hearts First Generation Cohort and the Dream in Green UK Committee, a former leader in the 2017-2018 Misiones Program with Avanzada Catolica, a former intern at Florida’s District 27 Congressional Office, an ambassador for Corazon Contento Happy Hearts, part of the honors society Phi Theta Kappa - Beta Kappa Iota Chapter, a volunteer for Arc Project Thrive, Habitat for Humanity, and Fundación Peruana de Cáncer, and a contributor to the Urbana Literary and Arts Magazine. Alejandra was born and raised in Lima, Peru in a middle-class family. In her own words, it was her experience growing up in Peru and completing different volunteering opportunities that inspired her to pursue a career in Communications. Alejandra currently lives with her family in South Florida and plans to become a Journalist in the future.