Castillo and Keiko debate in a square in Peru ahead of the ballot

The candidates debated various topics

The candidate Pedro Castillo and the right-wing Keiko Fujimori met this Saturday in a square in northern Peru in the first debate ahead of the presidential ballot on June 6.

The candidates agreed to address issues of health, education, security, economy and corruption in this debate that arose from a challenge from Keiko to his rival, which began at around 13:30 p.m. (18:30 p.m. GMT) in the main square of the agricultural city of Chota, with 47.000 inhabitants. , in the Cajamarca region, where Castillo was born and lives, 900 km north of Lima, according to an AFP review.

"The problem of the pandemic in Peru is not only a health problem [...], it is an economic problem, a moral problem, a social problem, a product of this neoliberal model" that Keiko defends, Castillo said.

"We will build hospitals throughout the country," declared Keiko, who began his speech with a greeting to members of the Armed Forces and the Police. "We will build 3.000 more schools like my father did," he added.

Both candidates promised vaccines for COVID-19 this year and said they had spoken with the Russian ambassador to that end. The immunization process is proceeding slowly in Peru and has been riddled with controversy.

The square was cordoned off hours before by about 200 policemen, while hundreds of residents crowded around to watch the debate, broadcast on television channels and which has captured the attention of the country.

Castillo surpasses Keiko in all the polls prior to the ballot, with an advantage of between 20 and 10 percentage points.

The country, in recession due to the pandemic and politically unstable since 2016 - it had three presidents in five days last November - is now heading for a ballot between two candidates who together obtained only 32% of the votes in the first return.

Keiko, 45, defends the free market while Castillo, 51, advocates an active economic role for the state to meet the demands of the population.

The next president must assume power on July 28, replacing interim president Francisco Sagasti.



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