Lima mayoral candidate Luis Castañeda filed an appeal this week with the National Elections Board, to turn down a ruling that bars him from running in the October elections because he provided false information in his curriculum vitae.
The ruling was handed down by the special municipal elections board, on the grounds that Castañeda stated he received his law degree from the Catholic University of Peru, PUCP, when in fact he earned his bachelor’s degree from the Catholic University but his law degree was granted by the San Martin de Porres University.
The same error was noted by the Elections Board in 2011 when Castañeda applied to run for the presidency, but at the time he was only admonished.
Castañeda is still leading in opinion polls against incumbent Susana Villaran and a slew of other candidates. Recent polls by Ipsos Apoyo had given Castañeda almost 60 percent support, compared to less than 10 percent for Villaran, who took office in 2011.
However, the past week has shown a 6 point drop in his approval ratings, and he faces recent allegations of involvement in fraud and money laundering through a company linked to a distant relative and members of his National Solidarity party.
Castañeda was mayor of Lima for two terms, from 2003 to 2010, and stepped down for an unsuccessful run for president in the general elections in 2011.
He ended his second term facing several allegations of mismanagement, although he was excluded from all judicial investigations that did include municipal staff. The most serious was the Comunicore case, in which a company called Comunicore was set up to buy a debt that the city government owed to the garbage collection company Relima. A number of people are under investigation or already on trial, and Comunicore was liquidated. The state attorney excluded Castañeda from investigations on the grounds that he was on a two-week vacation at the time that the major fraud was committed.
Ongoing investigations, however, by the government’s financial crimes unit now indicate that Comunicore may have also been used for laundering money from drug trafficking.
Manuel Miranda, the president of Lima’s electoral board, said he voted in favor of allowing Castañeda to continue in the campaign but it was rejected by other members of the board.
“It is an error in practice,” he said, according to daily La Republica.
“They want to impose an arbitrary judgment, but we will continue to move forward,” Castañeda said on Twitter.
In a similar case, however, the San Juan de Lurigancho mayor Carlos Burgos, seeking re-election as a member of Castañeda’s party, has been blocked from running again because he lied in his curriculum vitae, indicating he had completed high school in 1982 at Our Lady of Carmen school, when in his 2010 statement for the previous elections he said he finished his education at another school in Chepen in northern Peru.
Burgos alleges that the elections board decision is based on political interests against him, which is also Castañeda’s argument.
If the electoral board’s decision on Castañeda holds up, it is unclear if Villaran will be the main benefactor.
Alfredo Torres, the director of Ipsos Apoyo, said that Salvador Heresi, currently in third spot, could get a boost if Castañeda is unable to run for office. Heresi is currently in third place, behind Castañeda and Villaran.
“In general, the support that a candidate has doesn’t go to the main opponent,” Torres told daily El Comercio.