Alan Garcia takes definitive lead in Peru’s presidential race

The Socialdemocratic candidate clearly defeated his nationalistic rival Ollanta Humala in the TV debate aired on Sunday.

61 percent of Peruvians believe that the socialdemocratic candidate, Alan Garcia, defeated his nationalistic rival, Ollanta humala, in the TV debate aired on Sunday. A similar number of citizens will vote for Garcia in the runoff of the presidential race scheduled for June 4, according to polls released this week.

According to observers, the expertise of Alan Garcia, himself a former president between 1985 and 1990, was crucial for him to cement his lead in the debate, as paved his way to become elected president of the South American nation for a second time. The “crazy horse”, as he is friendly known in Peru has reaffirmed his support in the capital Lima and in the populated norther disctricts of the country. Humala is the favorite in the indigenous southern Andean provinces.

The Datum poll, which was commissioned by one of Peru's most popular television networks, Frecuencia Latina, said Garcia had 58 percent of voter support for the June 4 runoff, a one-percentage point increase compared to a May 11 poll. Humala, who is campaigning for state control of Peru's mineral and energy wealth, had 42 percent of support, a one-percentage point slip from 10 days ago.

The TV debate was the last opportunity for Humala to shortern Garcia’s lead, but clearly failed as arrived 15 minutes later to the TV studio after stopping by a popular restaurant of Lima to get a sandwich. Garcia begun alone and made clear Humala’s lack of seriousness before the audience.

But things turned to the worse later, when Garcia’s flourished rhetoric, expertise and competence overwhelmed the less skilled former army trooper accused of tortures and political assassinations while he served to fight leftist rebel groups in the eighties and nineties.

Humala’s gloomy past was also in the table last weekend, as the imprisoned former intelligence chief of dictator Alberto Fujimori, Vladimiro Montesinos, told to the press that Humala staged the military rebellion that launched his political career as a diversion to help the spy chief escape from the country. Montesinos called Humala's uprising a "farce, an operation of deception and manipulation", designed to "facilitate my exit from the country on the sailboat Karisma. That is the reality of those events."

As Montesinos has been sent to jail for extorsions and crimes against humanity, his declarations were a serious blow to Humala’s ambitions for the runoff. During the debate, the nationalistic leader said that he had evidence that link Montesinos to Garcia, but later failed to released them.

Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez sponsored Humala, 43, aims to levy royalties on all mining companies in Peru, including those protected from tax hikes by their contracts until 2018, and give the state a "sovereign share" in all of Peru's major mines and mining projects. He also aims to raise higher royalties on Peru's natural gas production, but most of Peruvians do not believe that Humala and his ultranationalistic party are ready to fuel radical changes in the country’s economy.

Garcia, who is seen as the more business-friendly candidate despite his 1985-1990 leftist government, accuses Humala of proposing an authoritarian government. Socialdemocratic Garcia, 56, said he would reduce poverty and maintain a strong economy by converting Peru's poor Andean highlands into a major agricultural exporter.

Hernan Etchaleco

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov