With Peru in the midst of a prolonged and still-incomplete vote count of its presidential election, there have been some fearsome marches by machete-brandishing supporters of leftist candidate Pedro Castillo insisting their man should be declared the winner.
But sources with contacts in Lima told Newsmax Tuesday that there is a growing fear that the incendiary nature of the election could spawn a fresh and more serious crisis — a stronger hand for Iran in Peru.
Castillo’s microscopic lead of 50.1 to 49.9 percent over conservative opponent Keiko Fujimori has yet to be certified by election authorities. Her campaign team and Fuerza Popular party are disputing roughly 250,000 ballots, which, they insist, includes significant numbers of fake ballots.
“We support allowing electoral authorities time to process and publicize the final electoral results,” a State Department spokesman told Newsmax, “Free, fair, transparent, and peaceful elections are the foundation of every healthy democracy.”
But as the vote certification process goes on, Castillo’s supporters are growing impatient and angry.
“Castillo and his supporters are claiming they won and held some counter-protests over the weekend,” Joseph Humire, Executive Director of the Center for A Secure Free Society, told Newsmax, “[The protests] had some very threatening images of Peruvians from the southern part of the country coming to Lima and marching with machetes.”
As the marches went on, a mysterious figure with close ties to Iran re-surfaced. Edwar Quiroga, who runs an Islamic Center in the mountainous region of South-Central Peru and has taken several hundred Peruvians to Iran over the past decade, was heard on an audio threatening a forceful takeover of the government if Fujimori emerged triumphant.
“In the audio, Quiroga blatantly talked about how if Keiko were to triumph they would initiative a violent takeover of Lima and, presumably other major cities,” said Humire, “He also mentioned how fraud against Fujimori was always part of the plan and that Vladimir Cerron [Castillo’s vice presidential running mate] and his corrupt networks took care of this.”
Humire added that “this audio was weird because no one sensible talks like that to a journalist on the phone, even if it's supposedly a private conversation. To me, the ‘leaked’ audio seems to be a trap being planted by Quiroga himself to scare the military to try to provoke them to act.”
He also underscored why Quiroga is dangerous and should be taken very seriously.
“He is very close to [Bolivia’s deposed leftist President] Evo Morales and the [leftist] MAS in Bolivia and was, in fact, recruited by Iran in La Paz more than a decade ago,” he told us, “Quiroga is much more capable than most give him credit for, which is why I don't believe he would actually speak on background to a journalist in that incriminating manner - other than to lay a trap for the Peruvian military.”
Last week, a suprising letter allegedly signed by 80 retired Peruvian military flag officers calling on the Armed Forces to enforce the constitution should the disputed votes not be decided by electoral authorities. Since the letter became public, talk of a military takeover of the government has been growing in Lima.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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