Peru faces challenges over COVID-19 and uncertainty over presidential election
You have to feel for poor Peru, the second largest producer of copper in the world.
The country faces the double affliction of the world’s worst per capita COVID death rate.
At the same time, he undergoes a presidential election between two almost equally odious candidates.
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Peru faces a pandemic
First, the pandemic. According to the Financial Times, on Monday, the government revised its numbers, claiming that 180,764 people had died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
That number is almost three times the total of 69,342 he had previously recorded.
The new figure means that one in 177 people in the country of 32 million people have died from the virus. This equates to a rate of around 565 deaths per 100,000 population – even worse than the 509 in Brazil.
The revised figures are now in line with the country’s “excess deaths” figure and follow a revised data source. The pandemic has already hit copper production. Slow vaccine roll-out does little to alleviate the problem.
At the same time, the country must choose between two unpopular presidential candidates, one of whom poses an even greater existential threat to medium-term copper production than the pandemic.
The frontrunner favorite from last month is an obscure former professor by the name of Pedro Castillo. Castillo’s Marxist policies rocked the markets, plunging the Peruvian stock market by 12%. It also caused the currency to fall at a historic low of 3.85 to the dollar, reports the Financial Times.
His party, Free Peru (Free Peru), wants nothing less than revolution, reports the post. It aims to overturn the free market model that has governed the country for a generation.
In its manifesto, the party says foreign mining companies should be forced to pay 80% of their profits to the state rather than the “miserable” 10%, 20% or 30% they are currently paying.
Unsurprisingly, all mining investments have been suspended pending the outcome of the next round.
The result is complicated by the fact that his opponent is almost equally unpopular.
The second option
Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of the country’s authoritarian former president Alberto Fujimori, is tainted with association. The scarcity of attractive candidates makes it almost impossible to predict the outcome.
Apparently, more than two-thirds of voters did not vote for any of the candidates in the first round. Meanwhile, around 10-18% say they don’t know who to support in the second. Up to a quarter say they will waste their ballots.
Nationalization of the copper industry would almost certainly be a disaster. It would herald a Venezuelan future for Peru if Peru Libre manages to secure a large enough majority.
Hopefully for the sake of copper consumers around the world, let alone the besieged population of poor Peru, such a result will never see the light of day.
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