LIMA – Many of the 23 million Peruvians eligible to vote in the weekend presidential runoff are people who only recently climbed out of poverty and feel increasingly anxious about their economic situation amid flagging growth in the Andean nation.
Peru’s economy grew at an average annual clip of 6 percent in the years 2005-2014, reducing the proportion of the population living below the poverty line from 48.7 percent to 22.7 percent.
Even so, 40 percent of the country’s 30 million people remain on an “economic tightrope” and 12 million are at risk of sliding back into poverty, an expert with international charity Oxfam told EFE.
Armando Mendoza, author of a study on inequality in Peru, said that job loss or a serious illness would push many members of Peru’s “emerging middle class” back into the ranks of the poor.
Moreover, the Oxfam specialist said, more than 3 million Peruvians whose incomes put them above the poverty line still lack running water and electricity.
Villa El Salvador, Lima’s poorest district, includes pockets of concentrated poverty such as Lomo de Corvina, a towering sand dune near a cement factory.
Resident Ana Maria Sulca told EFE that 11 years after settling the area, she lacks access to running water and depends on a neighbor to provide her with electricity via a makeshift connection.
Sunday’s runoff pits 41-year-old Keiko Fujimori against Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, 77.
Representing rival factions of the Peruvian right, the pair finished first and second in the first round of voting on April 10.
The final pre-election poll shows the daughter of imprisoned former President Alberto Fujimori with a lead of 53.1 percent to 46.9 percent over the former economy minister.