By Marco Aquino
LIMA (Reuters) – Peruvian presidential election front-runner, socialist Pedro Castillo, said on Saturday he would, if elected, review contracts with foreign miners in the copper-rich country and seal a deal for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.
Castillo leads in the polls ahead of a run-off vote on June 6 against right-wing opponent Keiko Fujimori, in a polarized election that could move the Andean nation sharply to the left, a trend that has rattled markets and worried miners.
The teacher, who normally sports a wide-brimmed hat and has struck a chord with Peru’s less affluent voters, wants to rewrite the country’s Constitution to weaken the business elite and give the state a more dominant role in the economy.
Castillo said foreign firms had “plundered” the country and that if elected president, he would ensure that 70% of profits would remain in Peru.
“We are going to review the contracts. Enough looting of my people,” he said in a debate with Fujimori, 45, in a public square in the mountainous Cajamarca region, referring to gas projects and metals mining.
Castillo, 51, has pledged to redirect more mineral wealth to the Peruvian people, though moved to ease investor fears last month by saying he would not nationalize industries
Amid a sharp surge in COVID-19 cases and a slow vaccine roll-out, Castillo also said he had recently met with the Russian ambassador and had a deal for 20 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.
Fujimori, a free-market proponent and daughter of ex-President Alberto Fujimori who is in jail for human rights abuses and corruption, also pledged to distribute the country’s mineral wealth more evenly to the Peruvian people and to provide vaccines.
“We are in contact with all the laboratories in the world to make vaccinating all Peruvians a reality this year,” she said.
(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Cynthia Osterman)