Despite consistent economic growth rates over the past two decades, Peru remains a deeply unequal and divided nation, with the wealthier and whiter population in its cities reaping most of the benefits of a neoliberal economic model put in place in the 1990s by Ms. Fujimori’s father.
When the pandemic ripped through Peru, it exacerbated those social and economic gaps, hitting hardest those who could not afford to stop working, who lived in cramped conditions, or who had limited access to health care in a country with a weak safety net.
The elections played along the same economic, racial and class lines, with Ms. Fujimori drawing most of her support from urban areas, and Mr. Castillo finding his base in the rural highlands, home to more mixed-race and Indigenous Peruvians.
Mr. Zavaleta, the political scientist, said he thought the chaos of the election, including Ms. Fujimori’s attempts to overturn votes, had “deepened the differences between Peruvians.”
“And I believe that it will have relatively long-lasting effects,” he went on.
Outside the election authority on Thursday, Max Aguilar, 63, said he had traveled hours by bus, from the northern city of Chimbote, to defend Mr. Castillo.
“We believe that the far right has already had enough time to show us that things can be better — and they haven’t done it,” he said.
“So we, the people, are saying no, that is enough. And we are betting on a change. We have a lot of confidence in Professor Castillo.”
Sofía Villamil contributed reporting from Bogotá, Colombia.