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Election Day - Lima, Peru 2010

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Monday, October 4, 2010

Over the past few months Peruvians have been caught up in the political fever that has swept the nation.  In every department of Peru political talk and campaigns have been at the forefront of social interest.  Citizens in each district of the 24 departments (including the constitutional province of Callao) have been preparing to elect their next mayor, with Lima dominating the attention of the public media (which is common of a centralized country)

The streets of the nation´s capital over this period of time have been literally littered with ads, flyers, and billboards, which like graffiti have been everywhere (the comment "leave no stone unturned" is an understatement to quantity of advertising that can be found in Lima)!  Everywhere you went it was impossible to escape someone who wasn´t discussing the candidates, while the newspapers and TV media milked the political race in standard textbook fashion.  Perhaps the most talked about and speculated election was over who would take the coveted seat as mayor of Lima.  For those living in Lima the decision as to who would replace current mayor Luis Castañeda has been of great importance especially with popular candidates like Lourdes Flores (who represents the political right) and Susana Villaran (who represents the "far" political left).  This interest has even manifested fear in many Limeños as well as foreign investors who believe that a politically leftist mayor could hurt the countries improving economical situation.   Read More >>

An interesting article posted on Andrew Breitbart´s blog Big Peace, discusses in greater depth the candidates running in this years election and is highly recommended!

What made this mayoral election such a "hot topic" was all the dirt that was dug up (most of it illegally) by unidentified sources, some which caused certain earlier candidates to be disqualified from the race.  Some candidates of Lima´s many districts even managed to wade through public contempt and humilliation only to come out on top (Francis Allison).  In the district of Chorrillos, current dictator mayor Augusto Miyashiro proved once again his strong influence over the residents by walking away with a 60% approval rating, according to the post election word of mouth survey.  Miyashiro has held to position of mayor of Chorrillos since 1999 and will continue in command of his title until the next election.

At 0000 hrs. last Friday the election weekend was marked with the induction and enforcement of "Ley Seca" or "Dry Law", which prohibits all establishments and businesses from selling alcohol, a law which was carried out by Jurado Nacional de Elecciones (JNE) and remains in effect until noon today.  Calm wouldn´t be enough of an exaggeration to describe this weekend, as most spend their Friday and Saturday nights engaged in other activities. 

The day of the election was a cold and dark one (literally), as many Peruvians awaited the opportunity to cast their vote.  Awaking on Sunday felt like any other winter day in Lima, though because of the elections I was expecting there to be less traffic.  Zdenka and I arrived to Breña at around 11am and we spent a good half hour trying to locate the school where she had been designated to vote on Google maps.  The school was located in a part of Breña (for a district that is rather small) that was unfamiliar to her so we decided to have her parents (who also had to vote) accompany us.  The worst possible thing about voting in the elections is that the Peruvian government only gives the public ONE single day to vote, which must be done with the 8am to 4pm time frame (considering that in Lima there is roughly 9 million citizens).  To make this situation even more frustrating than it all ready is, each person when issued their national identification card (DNI) is placed into a numerical category based on their address and district, this is then used to determine where they will have to go and vote (something which changes every year).  Oddly enough, in the past Zdenka was able to vote with her family at one voting location but this year however, her entire family had to vote in three seperate locations.  I was sidelined on the voting since my residence on my DNI is in Portland, Oregon well out of any district or department in Peru.

Most voting centers in Lima that day had been established in many private and public schools as well as hotels, in order to accommodate the rather large voting population.  To counter the possibility of any unforseen voting day aggression or violence, police and military personnel were placed on security duty at all the voting centers (in case anyone got angry about having to wait in large lines).  We went to the first school which had a relatively large group of people standing outside, all of whom were starring at large lists which contained their voting group number and the voting room where they need to go to.  Inside the school compound was a completely different story, where long lines on people filled the hallways and staircases.  I was certain that we were going to have to wait at least an hour but after a few minutes of searching we found the classroom where Zdenka´s mother had to vote and then 10 minutes later she was done with her blue middle finger to prove it (in Peru they use their middle finger to point).

We walked down the busy streets which were much more active then they normally are (it was like going to a parade or something) to arrive at the second school where Zdenka´s father would vote.  This school had a much larger crowd of people but surprisingly only took a few more minutes then Zdenka´s mother´s.  Finally the last school which was only a few blocks down had by far the largest quantity of people I had seen so far that day.  The traffic in the area was insane as most streets were jammed as drivers searched desperately for a place to park.  Luckily, Zdenka being pregnant had the opportunity to bypass what was a ridiculously long line that wrapped around the entire block.  Nevertheless, it took her 30 minutes of waiting in line inside before she could actually vote.  When she came out of the school she felt beat as we all did waiting for her and by the time we got home it was 2pm!  There were many people on Sunday for whatever their reason did not manage to vote which unfortunately means that they have to pay a fine of S/. 150.

at the end of the day the news on the TV was already broadcasting predictive results of the winners and it was stated the Villaran was ahead of Lourdes by 1%.  As of now Villaran is tallied at 38.7% and Lourdes at 37.1% though the official word has yet to be announced.


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