Ay Pelona, Nicomedes Santa Cruz Arises in Presidential Campaign

This last Sunday Peru carried out the second and final round of its elections to choose the future president of Peru. Now the waters are calmed and Peru has chosen Pedro Pablo Kuczynski even though the formal count has still not reached 100%

The second round was filled with demanding and sharp campaigning on the part of both side, “Peruvians for Change”, PPK in Spanish, with its representative Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, as well as for the militants of “Popular Strength”, FP in Spanish, led by Keiko Fujimori. Both candidates carried out national campaigns and debated the issue while giving their proposals for governing.

But that was not all the campaigns brought. The first debate of this second round was called by the Lima-based press a historical event for Peru. Beyond being decentralized, that is carried out in Piura in Peru’s far north, in the National University of Piura.  Once again, we saw they weight given to some regions to the detriment of the south, where the FP candidate refused to debate. The proposals, on the whole, did not show great differences in their economic model.

The debate was characterized by almost personal confrontations between the two candidates. At one point, Kuczynski criticized Fujimori for acts of corruption in the government of her father, Alberto Fujimori. In response, she said “¿cómo has cambiado pelona?” (how you have changed baldy—though the a makes it a bald woman) reminding him and the audience of Kuczynski’s support for her in the presidential campaign of 2011.

In doing so, she borrowed a phrase from a popular poem by the great Peruvian poet Nicomedes Santa Cruz. Born in Lima, he carried his décimas (a ten syllable lined form that is classic in Spanish) throughout Peru and the world.

Thanks to this debate, Peruvians could revere this important poet who is increasingly unknown by younger Peruvians. He is famous for fighting to honor Afro-Peruvian culture just as José María Arguedas fought to celebrate and recognize Andean folklore.

This illustrious Peruvian has influenced many Peruvian musicians. Any of the have paid him homage on numerous occasions by using his décimas. One popular song today, by Jaime Cuadra, Negra, lets you hear the voice of the poet accompanied by cajón, guitar, and the arrangements of contemporary music.

As a result, on this page and through these words, we join the celebration and render homage to the great Peruvian poet, Nicomedes Santa Cruz just a few days after his birthday, the 4th of June which is also the Day of Afro-Peruvian Culture.

This day passed almost completely ignored because of the political campaigns and the invisibility given to whatever is not part of the hegemonic culture. That is why you will notice a great absence in the former candidate’s governing plans a cultural plan to gather and recognize the diversity of our country. Nevertheless, one of the phrases of Nicomedes Santa Cruz made its way into the debates, even if used strangely.

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