Peru's next President Fujimori?

Keiko Fujimori is known in Peru as "la China"

But the legacy of her name is unmistakeable: as the daughter of imprisoned former president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), she has a powerful political inheritance. If she wins Sunday's presidential runoff election, it will be hers to uphold or defy.

The elder Fujimori ruled with an iron fist, even as he righted the country's economy and cracked down on Maoist rebels. He remains the country's most divisive figure, jeered by some and revered by others.

He is serving a 25-year prison sentence for human rights abuses, corruption, and abuse of power. International investigators believe his regime may have stolen as much as 6 billion dollars in public funds.

His daughter, 41, has sworn to not repeat her father's "mistakes" and to uphold democracy and human rights.

But she has inspired skepticism among those who believe she is a chip off the old block.

Keiko Fujimori was thrust into the spotlight at 15, when her father, then a virtual unknown, won the presidency in an electoral upset.

At 19, Keiko replaced her mother, Susana Higuchi, as first lady. Higuchi separated from Alberto Fujimori amid accusations that she had been tortured under his government.

When his regime fell in 2000, her father fled to Japan, while she stayed on - an act that even her rivals characterize as courageous.

In 2006 the younger Fujimori was elected to Congress. In 2011, at the age of 35, her father's legacy propelled her to the second round of a divisive presidential election, which she lost to socialist Ollanta Humala.

Since then, she has refined her message, taking a populist tone in her Popular Force Party and supporting the death penalty and the rejection of civil rights for homosexuals, issues that were popular with poor and working-class rightist voters who revered her father.

Questions remain about in what other ways she might be her father's daughter.

Her campaign has been shadowed by accusations of corruption and dirty deals. She has never managed to dispel claims her and her siblings' studies were financed with state funds. A top official of her Popular Force Party was forced to resign amid investigations of money laundering.

Fujimori swears that despite her name she is different.

Under her government, there will be no coup d'état, no persecution, repression of the press or corruption, she says. But she aspires to that which her father did well: law and order and control of the economy on a liberal model.

"I know how to look at history, and I know which chapters to repeat and which not," she said.

Her role in future chapters remains to be seen.

Last update: Wed, 22/06/2016 - 15:01
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