LIMA: One candidate is known as “La China,” though she is really of Japanese descent.
The other is “El Gringo”—years in the United States left him with a “yanqui” accent.
Here are some facts about the colorful foreign links of the contenders in Peru’s presidential election, Keiko Fujimori and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
Land of immigrants
Like most of the Americas, Peru’s history is marked by immigration.
The Spanish conquest in the 16th century brought down the ancient Inca civilization.
African slaves were trafficked to Peru in the colonial era. Chinese and Japanese economic migrants started to arrive in the 19th century.
The frontrunner in the polls, Keiko Fujimori, is the granddaughter of Japanese immigrants.
Her father Alberto Fujimori was the son of a couple who are said to have come from Japan’s Kumamoto prefecture in the 1930s.
He served as president from 1990-2000. He is now in jail for corruption and human rights abuses.
Known in Peru as the “nikkei,” the Japanese came to work as laborers and many ended up running businesses.
“It is a community that is open and integrated in the country,” said Harumi Nako, a spokeswoman for the Peruvian-Japanese Association.
The Peruvian nikkei community is the second biggest in Latin America after that of Brazil, Nako told Agence France-Presse.
The association estimates there are between 80,000 and 90,000 people, including about 30,000 in Japan, she said.
Kuczynski is known as “El Gringo” because he lived for years in the United States, working for banks and businesses.
But his father was German and his mother Franco-Swiss.
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski or “PPK” is a cousin of filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard. Kuczynski’s American wife Nancy is a cousin of the Hollywood actress Jessica Lange.
His father, a doctor, was an officer in the German army in World War One but fled when Hitler came to power. In Peru, he worked treating lepers in the Amazon jungle.
PPK was educated in England and the United States. He returned to Peru various times, serving as a minister.
He acquired US citizenship but last year appeared on television to announce he had given it up.
But many voters still see him as a foreign curiosity—more so than the populist “Keiko.”
“He is North American,” said one voter, Lima taxi driver Mario Armando Callupe, 27.
“Keiko isn’t seen as foreign, but PPK is because of the way he behaves.”