Local elections in Peru’s capital Lima went down to the wire on Sunday, with Rafael López Aliaga — a conservative businessman who calls for the ousting of President Pedro Castillo — narrowly beating retired military leader Daniel Urresti by 26.3 to 25.4 percent.
Mr. López Aliaga, who came third in last year’s presidential elections with 11.7 percent of the vote, has interests in the transport and tourism sectors, and has tried to brand himself as a “Peruvian Bolsonaro.”
Popular Renewal party has emphasized opposition to contraception, sex education, and abortion and matched that social conservatism with a strong anti-communist rhetoric in its fight against the Castillo administration.
During the 2021 runoff, Mr. López Aliaga endorsed Keiko Fujimori — the daughter of authoritarian former president Alberto Fujimori — and backed her unproven fraud claims after Mr. Castillo’s victory.
The businessman is also notable for his adherence to Opus Dei, one of the most conservative factions of the Catholic Church, practicing sexual abstinence and even self-flagellation since he was in his 20s.
“I enrolled at Chiclayo’s National University, and terrorism was running so deep through Peru that even while studying engineering I was taught Marx, Engels, Hegel, and Nietzsche. And when I moved from there to the [Opus Dei-funded] Piura University, it was like moving from hell to heaven,” Mr. Lopez Aliaga said.
Lima is the center of the opposition to Mr. Castillo’s presidency, as the urban-rural divide has been just as important as ideological divisions in Peru’s latest election. This opens the door to a conflict between the local and national governments, a common occurrence in Peru’s recent history.
Last year, Mr. López Aliaga famously said during a campaign rally: “Long Live Peru! Death to Communism! death to [Marxist Perú Libre party leader Vladimir] Cerrón and Castillo!” After his win, Mr. López Aliaga said he was open to talking with other politicians, but not with the president.
“Mr. Castillo should resign, for the good of Peru. His government has destroyed confidence, investment, jobs, and consumption. I can’t have a meeting with him, it is structurally impossible,” the mayor-elect argued.