Keiko Fujimori reminds me of a Russian babushka doll. She’s nicely varnished on the outside, a sheen that gives her an approachable air – a caring mother who will give Peru the schools that it deserves. As for the inner shells… well, there seems to be a smugness in the second layer, not too deeply buried and occasionally seeping through to the exterior.
The next two incarnations remain something of a mystery, at least to me. But what about that smallest wooden figurine? Will Peru strip away those layers, only to find a tiny little Alberto Fujimori quietly manipulating the outer shell of his smiling, sensitive daughter?
Keiko Fujimori in Tarapoto, Peru
Keiko Fujimori closed her presidential campaign last night (April 5, 2011) with a glitzy public party held at Tarapoto’s outdoor events area, the Concha Acustica. The whole thing was supposed to start at about 6 pm but, in typical Peruvian fashion, it kicked off about two and a half hours late.
Those two and a half hours were painful. A young comedian, tasked with keeping the crowd entertained before Keiko’s arrival, soon used up his repertoire of political impressions. Thankfully, he had an impressive collection of crude toilet jokes to fall back on. Some of them were actually quite funny, but he managed to end his overstretched segment with a slight faux pas (although no one seemed to think much of it).
His back-up jokes all revolved around “caca” (excrement, to put it politely). In a presumably unrehearsed moment of inspiration, the kid realised that “caca” and “Keiko” would make for a great bit of wordplay. “Remember,” he cried, “when you go to vote on April 10, think of caca and remember Keiko!” Probably not the most effective bit of word association ever invented on the campaign trail…
Light on Politics, Heavy on Pyrotechnics
The comedian lost his voice after about 30 minutes and made his exit from the stage. The next two hours were filled by the shouts of an enthusiastic liar. “Keiko! Keiko! Keiko!” he shouted, bravely trying to get the crowd to join in. He did an okay job, but two hours of that nonsense is pushing it a bit.
As for the lies… At 7 pm, he announced that Keiko was approaching the Concha Acustica. At 7.30 pm, he told us she was just minutes away. At 7.45 pm, she was due to arrive at eight. As it turned out, she was on the stage at about 8.30 pm. What a liar.
Anyway, the chance to see the glorious Keiko had arrived. She stood on the stage as the fawning Rolando, the party’s great hope for congress, gave us a few more minutes of “Keiko! Keiko! Keiko!” Sweet lord above, I thought, this is purgatory. Keiko herself stood motionless, her hands behind her back with the smugness of the second-layer babushka spilling across her face.
She then gave a very short, impassioned and slightly screechy speech about how she will give Peru more schools and universities and eradicate delinquency. Then she had a dance with Rolando. Then about 5 billion soles worth of fireworks shot up into the air, dropping ash and cardboard onto the impressively large crowd below. Then I left, desperate for a beer and some peace and quiet.
The Babushka of Peruvian Politics
Would I vote (if I could) for Keiko Fujimori? Ideally, no, but she is certainly not my least favourite among the front-runners. The glitz and glamour of her closing party was impressive, and she handed out enough orange balloons to lift Bolivia to the coast.
But there’s something about the Bubashka that I don’t like, something unappealing behind her youth and those “beautiful eyes,” as mentioned in her hauntingly beautiful campaign song (it’s actually an old song by Dina Paucar).
To be honest, I think it’s the thought of that tiny little Alberto Fujimori sitting somewhere inside her that really gives me the creeps…
For a slightly amateurish video of Keiko in Tarapoto, head over to my YouTube channel and have a look at Keiko Fujimori in Tarapoto, Peru – April 5, 2011.
Babushka image by Vicent Ibáñez, Wikimedia Commons (slightly adapted by me).
I enjoyed your blurb on Keiko Fujimori’s campaign appearance in Tarapoto, and you raised very important important questions about her: namely, what’s Keiko really like underneath all that external sheen , and will she be anything more than a puppet for her Dad. I guess the only thing that we can surmise for sure is that a vote for Keiko will be a vote for Papa Fujimori’s amnesty. If that’s what the Peruvian voter really wants, then voting for Keiko might make sense. For my part, I don’t believe that she would be much more than her Dad’d puppet and would look for someone else to vote for. I’ll be interested to get a better feel for how Peruvians think about the candidates when I go to Virginia this Sunday to witness the Peruvian electoral process in the USA.
Keiko has a lot of support in Lima because she will spring her dad. Alberto is a hero to many in Peru. He stabilized the economy and also brought down SL and the MRTA. When he came into office, the inflation was out of control and so were the SL and MRTA . Many people I have spoken with in Lima love Alberto and they hope Keiko can be elected so he can be freed and eventually return to office. In the meantime, he will be the de facto president if Keiko is elected.
If the Fujimori track record is any indicator, this would not be good news for the provinces or for the indigenous.
When Keiko mentioned Alberto during her closing campaign, the support for him was very evident. When I mention Alberto to people here in Tarapoto, they often highlight the free meals that he introduced in schools (something that Keiko wants to do, I believe). The loyal Fujimori supporters tend to just shrug when it comes to the negative aspects of his presidency.
Vincent, it will be interesting to watch the electoral process in the USA. Will you be writing about it anywhere?
If you want, I’ll be happy to write my observations for you. I found the last Peruvian elections in the Washington Metro area to be a fascinating experience. I bet the the one this coming Sunday will be equally interesting.
If you’d like to write something, I’d be more than happy to post it here on TarapotoLife. It would make a great addition to my recent stabs at political commentary!
caca and keiko – must be a brilliant campaign manager…
Hi Karin-Marijke, thanks for stopping by.
Luckily for the comedian, Keiko wasn’t around to hear his little play on words! Hope all is well in French Guiana – I hadn’t realised you’d got so far north.