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Speaking in Spanish to an audience of more than 150 on Wednesday, Keiko S. Fujimori, the daughter of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori and the frontrunner in Peru’s 2016 presidential election, discussed the impact of her father’s involvement in politics on her political career.
Fujimori’s father, who served as president of Peru between 1990 and 2000, was convicted of human rights violations in 2009 and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
“These difficulties made my character stronger,” Fujimori said through an interpreter. “Most importantly, they gave me the opportunity to start to grow from adversity.”
Fujimori has established herself as a skillful politician independent of her father. Since becoming the youngest first lady in Peru’s history at the age of 19, she has served in Peru’s Congress, founded the Fuerza Popular party, and is in the midst of her second presidential bid.
Now, she is poised to become the nation’s first female president, according to Harvard Government professor Steven R. Levitsky, who moderated Wednesday’s event.
During the talk, which was hosted by the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Fujimori also addressed her commitment to Peru’s future and the political reforms she intends to implement.
“I’m not one of those politicians who believes that, if you are elected, you have to reject the old government and start from the beginning,” she said. “I think that if there’s something working, and working well, then it doesn’t matter who created it—we have to continue it and we have to make it stronger.”
After her speech, Fujimori addressed criticisms from several audience members, who expressed concern about issues ranging from tax policy and poverty to gender equality and reproductive health.
Even though he questioned Fujimori’s commitment to liberal democracy and human rights protections, Levitsky said he was grateful for Fujimori’s visit.
“Accepting our invitation to come here took quite a bit of courage,” Levitsky said. “We learn from talking and listening to people with different experiences and different points of view.”
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