AFTER THE APRIL FIRST-ROUND CONTEST for the Peruvian presidency that involved five top candidates, two remaining candidates are slugging it out before the June 5th run-off. The turnout could prove enormous when voters choose either Ollanta Humala, a former army colonel who lost in the 2006 election, or Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori.
Recently in Washington, DC, Peru’s Deputy Consul General Maria Eugenia Chiozza de Zela met with Tino Calabia (Peru 1963–65) and Sarah Stewart (Guatemala 2004–6, Honduras 2006–7, PC Response/Panamá 2009–10) to discuss getting help with the election at polling sites in this country from Spanish-speaking RPCVs. Both Tino and Sarah had joined 13 others recruited by RPCVs Mike Wolfson and Gloria Levin, (President of Amigos de Bolivia y Peru), to assist with the April elections.
Chiozza now needs more help, and Sarah and Tino agreed to contact Spanish-speaking RPCVs who once served in Peru and elsewhere in Latin America.
About 1.5 million Peruvian nationals reside throughout the U.S., of whom 230,000 are eligible voters. In Washington’s consular district, about 28,000 are eligible, and 54%, or around 15,000 traveled to the West Falls Church polling place. In Paterson, NJ, another 15,000 voted, as did 13,500 in Queens, NY. Polling places are also in Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, and San Francisco.
Complicated by Peru’s version of preferential voting, last month’s election was also cumbersome, said Chiozza, as 10 candidates sought the Presidency, while others competed for seats in the 130-member Congress and five seats in the four-nation Andean Parliament. On June 5th, however, Peruvian nationals will vote solely for the Presidency, faced with choosing either Humala or Fujimori. Nonetheless, turnout should remain high because Peru does not offer absentee ballots and voting is compulsory under penalty of fines. More importantly, the contest between the candidates is extremely polarized.
Chiozza also mentioned that other Consulates might need help. Her New York counterpart, Deputy Consul General Fortunato Quesada, later told Sarah and Tina, “The Consulate in New York City would deeply appreciate assistance from Spanish-speaking former Peace Corps Volunteers.” You can reach his office by calling: 646-735-3901.”
The Miami Consulate apparently needs no volunteers, but RPCVs can find other Consulates’ phone listings on the Internet, to call and express your willingness to help. The other consulates are in:
Los Angeles CA
San Diego CA
San Francisco CA
St. Louis MO
New York NY
Interestingly, as General Director of North American Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2001, Ms. Chiozza assisted then-President Alejandro Toledo, once mentored by PCVs, in reopening Peru to the Peace Corps, thereby enabling new Volunteers to come to her country as PCVs. Now she is asking RPCVs to help Peruvians again, this time in the U.S.
Questions? Contact Tino (FCalabia36@gmail.com) or Sarah (firstname.lastname@example.org)