by Robin Yapp, Sao Paulo | Telegraph.co.uk | June 6, 2011
A left-wing nationalist has been elected president of Peru, increasing fears in the United States about a growing "anti-US cabal" in South America.
Ollanta Humala, 48, a former lieutenant colonel in the army, narrowly won an election run-off against Keiko Fujimori,the daughter of disgraced ex-President Alberto Fujimori.
Mr Humala secured victory after attempting to distance himself from his previous image as a hardline, radical leftist in the mould of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez.
But analysts in the US still believe the result is likely to heighten tensions between President Barack Obama's administration and Latin America.
Frank Gaffney, founder and president of the Washington-based Centre for Security Policy think-tank, said he feared Peru would now join Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador as another South American country hostile to the US.
"I think there is increasingly less and less upside to being associated with the US and that augurs very ill for American security and trade," he said.
"Chavez is clearly actively fostering an anti-US cabal in the region. I think it is a very dark day for US-Peruvian relations and indeed for the hemisphere."
Erasto Almeida, a Latin America analyst at Eurasia Group in New York, agreed that the new Peruvian government would be more likely to "have strong views about the US as an imperial power" than the previous one.
"I think relations with the US will be a little less constructive than they have been," he said. "But I don't see Humala taking an aggressive approach. I don't see Peru going down the path of Venezuela."
Mr Humala ran for the presidency in 2006 - presenting himself as a close ally of Mr Chavez and a fan of General Juan Velasco, the left-wing dictator who ruled Peru from 1968 to 1975 - but was defeated by Alan Garcia.
This year he moderated his stance and pledged to follow the market-friendly model of tackling poverty pursued by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the former president of Brazil.
Mr Humala used the fact that his opponent's father is serving a 25-year prison sentence for employing death squads against left-wing opponents and corruption to his advantage, amid fears that Ms Fujimori would grant him a pardon if elected.
In his victory speech in Lima, the capital, Mr Humala promised to create jobs, build homes, and deliver running water and electricity to neglected areas.
"We've been waiting a long time for a government that really cares about the poor," he said. "This has got to change, and it's for this change that I am here. I'm only interested in achieving what I've offered the Peruvian people."
But Peru's stock market sank nearly 9 per cent after opening on Monday amid concern about a windfall tax Mr Humala wants to impose on mining profits and the possibility of more interventionist economic policies.
Mr Humala had 51.2 per cent of the official vote with nearly 90 per cent of votes counted and most of those still to be announced located in rural areas where he commands higher support.