The Lima recall campaign: scenes from a farce


In March, Peru’s capital and largest city will go to the polls to decide if Mayor Susana Villarán will continue in her position. It’s an important decision that will affect the lives of the city’s 8 million residents. How is such a serious manner being handled? Not very seriously. Here is a little timeline of the campaigns’ proudest moments:

November 9th: Marco Tulio Gutiérrez, head of the campaign to recall Villarán, said that one of the reasons to remove Villarán was her participation in a gay pride parade. He clarified himself to “I’m not homophobic, but rather queephobic. Let’s put it that way.”

November 27th: The deputy mayor accuses the mayor of San Juan de Lurigancho, Carlos Burgos, of sabotaging public works in his district as a way of supporting the recall campaign. Among other charges, Burgos is accused of closing a neighborhood park and trying to stop the opening of a cultural center for children. Burgos denies the charges.

November 29th: Gutiérrez writes that the Villarán admistration should not take credit for the Vía Parque Rímac project. “Thanks, Susana, for continuing Castañeda’s project, the Yellow Line,” he wrote on Facebook, saying that Villarán had just changed the project’s name.

December 29th: After a retaining wall on the construction site at the Vía Parque Rímac collapsed, causing a flood and costing the concessionaire $250,000, the pro-recall Correo newspaper launches a blistering attack against Villarán, saying the project was poorly conceived.

January 3rd: The National Office of Electoral Processes (ONPE), the body charged with overseeing the recall vote, says that it has neither the time, nor the manpower, nor the budget to oversee the election. Its estimate for the costs of the process was S/. 81 million, but it was budgeted just S/. 67 million.

January 6th: Anel Townsend, spokeswoman for the anti-recall campaign, announced that the campaign would release the names of its financiers “in the shortest possible timeframe.”

January 6th: While criticizing the anti-recall campaign’s move to hire Brazilian consultant Luis Favre, Gutiérrez says that the pro-recall campaign has spent just $12,000.

January 8th: Gutiérrez releases documents showing that the pro-recall campaign has already spent at least S/. 121,900, or $47,850.

January 8th: Townsend says that the anti-recall campaign will not be able to release its list of donors until after the vote on March 17th. ONPE confirms that it has no way to legally force the campaigns to release their financial information.

January 8th: A protest against Favre is held outside the Miraflores Park Hotel (though he is not yet in Peru, and there’s no indication he will stay at Miraflores Park Hotel). Many protesters carried signs with the Brazilian’s face on it. When a reporter from the TV show Primera Edición asks several protesters who Favre is, they do not appear to know.

There are more than two months left until the election, more than two more months left in this campaign. May God help us all.
Lima faces the important decision of whether or not to recall its mayor, Susana Villarán. Too bad the campaigns are making a joke of the process.

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