Today, it is Ms. Flores Nano's campaign that is in free-fall (she is now third in the polls), Humala is on top and former president Alan Garcia is second. Not that Humala's victory is secured in next month's primary elections set for April 9th. He would have to get more than 50% to avoid a run-off and he currently stands at 26%. Nevertheless in this morning's syndicated United States political gab-fest, The McLaughlin Group, isolationist United States right-wing pundit Patrick Buchanan predicted that "extremist" Humala would be the new Peruvian president.
The gay rights issue, which might have been a blip in the radar during the campaign, also has taken a life of its own and strengthened the perception that if Humala has a weakness, it's his own family, members of whom have either challenged him politically by running for office in opposition parties (one of his brothers is also a presidential candidate) or spouted incendiary comments to the press.
Humala has been trying to distance himself from comments made by his mother to the newsdaily "Expreso" on March 21st regarding moral values. According to this site, when asked about those who would rape a minor, Mrs. Tasso (pictured above) said: "I bet you that if you execute two rapists by shooting, there won't be any additional rapes, and by shooting two homosexuals, there wouldn't be so much immorality in the streets."
Asked for coments about well-known Peruvian commentarist (and openly bisexual) Jaime Bayly, Humala's mother added: "That man is sowing immorality and says it everywhere [lo dice a los cuatro vientos], thus people think that this is normal."
On Friday, Mr. Bayly posted an OpEd response in Chile's La Tercera. Titled "The Moral Guardians," Mr. Bayly said, among other things (excerpted translation by yours truly):
Declarations made by the Humalas to the press in Lima, promoting hate and violence against gays and against me as an individual, sadden and worry me but do not surprise me because the Ollanta newspaper, which has circulated throughout Peru in the last few years under the name of presdiential candidate Ollanta Humala - which I have read with feelings of revulsion and fear - is filled with homophobic venom and highlights and glorifies violence against gays (and violence in general)...It must be said that to make his argument, Mr. Bayly, who has written a few rose-tinted novels about gay life among the high class in Peru, unfortunately exposes a bias towards indigenous culture by alluding to rhetoric that links Incan culture to anti-semitic, xenophobic and homophobic ideals, which further muddles the issue.
[There's] abundant testimony and not only in the pages of Ollanta, in which people jump over each other with abundant praise for the killing of gays by Iranian clerics, they site supposed biblical passages that justify this homicidial violence and propagate the idea that the Incan Empire was grandiose and admirable for, amomg other things, lynching any man suspected of having sex with another man...
Ollanta Humala says that he doesn't share his parents' ideas (if we can call ideas those barbaric calls to tribal violence against those who are different to the majority or those who are uncomfotable with their authoritarian ideals). How can we believe him, if he allowed his uncommon name to be also the name of the Ollanta newspaper, spreading such sinister ideas throughout Peru... inviting [readers] to lynch, in the name of their racist revolution not only homosexuals but Chilean inversionists, bank owners, Jews, the Minister of Economy and even President Toledo?...
In the name of decency and purity, how ironic!, the Humalas accuse me of "sowing immorality everywhere [a los cuatro vientos]" and of "causing damage to youth" because I say that I am bisexual. They are wrong, these pintoresque guardians of morality. I defend tolerance and respect towards sexual minorities, as do civilized societies, which protect minorities and allow them to organize and express themselves. The Humala clan is sowing hate and violence against gays, and that certainly is a shameful morality...
If Humala wants to demonstrate that he is not a homophobe, he could make the tolerant gesture of appearing in my [television] show, agree to be interviewed and apologize for the threats made by his parents and his brother Amauro, who is now supporting his candidacy from jail... How does he differenciate himself from his parents and his brother if he is incapable of sitting down to talk with me because it repulses him that I'm not a copper-toned macho man who hates Chileans and gays?
Bayly also is playing to recent reports that Humala had despectively called Chile an "all-knowing nation" which Humala tried to put to rest today.
For his part, Humala was seen visiting his parents and having a heated conversation with them after their comments were printed in "Expreso." In a press conference that followed, his parents announced that they would contemplate "silence" for the rest of the presidential elections as not to damage their son's potential to become the next Peruvian president.
For the latest news on the Peruvian election you might as well go to this blog ran through the University of British Columbia in Canada.