The following are excerpts from an editorial that appeared in Wednesday's Washington Post.
Peru, under its outgoing president, Alan Garcia, has wasted five years. The country was in deep and urgent trouble when he came to office in 1985.As Peruvians now go through the process of electing Garcia's successor, they face choices similar to those five years ago. The race now lies between novelist Mario Vargas Llosa and an out-of-nowhere challenger, Alberto Fujimori. There's an important difference between them.
Vargas Llosa is a realist who promises Peru the kind of reform and economic restructuring that it desperately needs. That means, among other things, a period of rigorous austerity.
In contrast Fujimori, sounding disquietingly like Garcia five years ago, has been very vague about his intentions.
Peru is dominated by a small middle class of European or Asian descent who disproportionately possess the country's resources of wealth and education. Most of Peru's people are Indians living in deep poverty, and the disparity has generated a savagely violent guerrilla movement, the Shining Path.
Peru needs a president capable of bringing order and stability to its economy.