Little discussed in foreign policy circles in Washington, Peru is headed to its most crucial election since emerging from dictatorship more than a decade ago. On June 5, 2011, almost twenty million voters will go to the polls to decide between Colonel Ollanta Humala, former coup plotter turned democrat; and Keiko Fujimori, the 35-year-old daughter of former dictator Alberto Fujimori.
Much of the attention regionally has focused on the democratic credentials of Col. Humala. In 2006 Humala also ran for president on a platform of radical change with the open backing of President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. That time he was narrowly defeated by current President Alan Garcia.
This time, a much more polished and sophisticated Humala is back. His message however, while more nuanced, remains the same. A careful read of his 197 page plan of government, titled "The Great Transformation," displays words like "neo-liberalism," "pluri-culturalism," "nationalization of strategic activities" and "re-negotiating free trade." All of these are buzz words for radical change. Humala also speaks openly about constitutional reform, another important component of the setup of President Chavez's model of authoritarianism. He has also stated he will re-negotiate Peru's energy and mining contracts.