LIMA, Peru – Peru's presidential campaign ended in a flurry of invectives, with former President Alan Garcia depicting his opponent as a would-be dictator with terrorist leanings and Ollanta Humala calling Garcia a corrupt vestige of a discredited political elite.
In a closing rally in Lima, Garcia held thousands of his party faithful spellbound Thursday as he urged Peruvians to defend democracy and confront militarism.
Hundreds of miles away in Cuzco, the historic seat of the Inca Empire, Humala pledged to make Peru's political establishment "tremble" and bend to the will of the people.
If Humala wins Sunday's runoff, Peru would become the latest Latin American country to elect a hardline nationalist, following the path of Venezuela and Bolivia. Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez has endorsed Humala, and on Sunday called Garcia a "liar" and a "thief."
A victory by Garcia, who has described Chavez as a "historic loser" and a "spoiled child," would put the country more in line with moderate-left, market-friendly governments of Brazil and Chile.
Recent polls give Garcia a 10-point lead over Humala, who won the most votes in April's election.
Garcia, whose disastrous 1985-90 administration is remembered for hyperinflation, corruption and unchecked guerrilla violence, has pledged not to repeat his mistakes. He accused Humala of spewing a "Shining Path-like discourse, " referring to the Maoist rebels crushed in the 1990s under former President Alberto Fujimori.
Humala, who pledges to rewrite Peru's constitution and radically redistribute wealth among the country's poor majority, recalled that it was during Garcia's administration that the Shining Path insurgency was most active.
Addressing a crowd of several thousand, Humala vowed that with his victory "all of Lima will tremble, and all of Congress and the Government Palace will tremble and they will have to accept the sovereignty of the people."
Earlier Thursday, former Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy, head of the Organization of American States' observer delegation, urged both candidates to tone down their rhetoric. He said it was important for both sides "to acknowledge that they will accept the results of the election."
Cuzco, 350 miles southeast of Lima, a bastion of Humala support, was the scene a week ago of a clash between his followers and Garcia's campaign caravan. Five people were injured, including two from gunshot wounds.
Some analysts have attributed Humala's slide in the polls to concerns over his ties to Chavez. Humala tried to distance himself Wednesday from the Venezuelan leader's endorsement of his candidacy, saying Chavez should stay of out Peru's affairs.