television talk show host Jaime Bayly uses irony and a
stinging wit to jab at his guests on his program
The Sharpshooter. But these days he's the
one who's feeling on the defensive.
Bayly is open about being bisexual, and that, he
says, has led to death threats from the homophobic
parents of Ollanta Humala, the retired army officer
who is favored in Sunday's presidential elections in Peru's
capital of Lima, which will go to a second round in May if
no candidate wins 50% of the vote.
"The Humalas accuse me of 'spreading immorality
to the four winds' and 'harming youth' by saying I'm
bisexual," Bayly said in an interview. "They're wrong,
of course. I'm defending tolerance and respect for
Humala has spent much of the campaign denying he
shares the views of his family on a range of subjects,
including being an antiwhite racist or hating gay people.
"I'm not homophobic," Humala said during a
recent meeting with foreign correspondents. "In the
21st century I don't think anyone should be
discriminated against for such preferences or options,
whatever word you want to use."
But many Peruvians have serious doubts about his
sincerity. Bayly's denunciation of the death threats
is only the latest in a series of controversies
involving the Humala clan, an extended family of political radicals.
The family consists of Humala's parents, six
other siblings, and uncounted cousins. It's headed by
Isaac Humala, a 75-year-old patriarch who considers
himself a descendant of Inca royalty, says he is a
hard-line Marxist, but also has words of praise for Hitler.
He and other family members believe Peru's
"copper-colored" majority of Indians and mestizos
should rule the country and give second-class status
to lighter-skinned citizens.
Humala, 43, is an open admirer of the left-wing
military dictator General Juan Velasco, who was in
power from 1968 to 1975, and has been vigorously
endorsed by Venezuela's leftist president, Hugo Chavez. He
has promised heavy state intervention in Peru's
free-market economy and opposes the U.S.-backed
eradication of Peru's coca crop, the raw material for cocaine.
He has a narrow lead in the polls over Lourdes
Flores, 46, a pro-free market former
congresswoman. They are running in a field of 20 candidates.
Bayly had wanted to get Humala on his show to
ask about, among other things, accusations of human
rights violations allegedly perpetrated during
Humala's 1992 command of a jungle counterinsurgency base.
Humala, who denies any wrongdoing and says he is the
victim of a smear campaign, turned down the invitation.
Bayly, 41, a prize-winning novelist, said that
when he sent a reporter to invite Humala's parents to
his show, the father responded: "Tell that queer we're
not going to his program, and when we're in the government,
we're going to have him shot."
A few days later, Humala's mother, Elena Tasso,
was quoted by the Expreso newspaper as saying: "I bet
if they shot two homosexuals, you would see less
immorality in the streets."
Bayly said Ollanta "did not apologize" for his
parents' threats and refused repeated invitations to
appear on his show.
"If it's true he is not violent or homophobic,
he should have apologized for his parents' comments,"
Bayly said. "He should have apologized to Peru's
Bayly said one reason he doubts Humala's
sincerity is that the candidate allowed a brother,
Antauro, to publish a newspaper for more than three
years that carried his name, Ollanta, and
preached violence against minorities, including gay people.
"If he really repudiated those ideas, he should have
demanded that his brother withdraw his name from the
publication, but he didn't," Bayly said.
Antauro Humala is in jail awaiting trial for
having led an uprising in a remote Andean town in
January 2005 in a bid to force President Alejandro
Toledo from power. He said that he was acting on his
brother's orders. His supporters shot and killed four
policemen in the failed revolt.
Ollanta Humala, a military attache in Peru's
embassy in Seoul at the time, initially backed his
brother's right to rebel but quickly withdrew his
support after the four policemen were killed. He denied
planning the uprising.
Several weeks ago Antauro Humala gave a taped
statement to a radio station saying Toledo, who cannot
run for immediate reelection, his wife, and Peru's 120
congressmen should be executed by firing squads for
treason. On the tape Antauro Humala said the "revolutionary
measures" would begin July 28, the day Peru's next elected
government will take office. Ollanta Humala once again
dissociated himself from the declarations.
Humala's father, Isaac, in particular has drawn
headlines with his comments, especially when he
suggested the jailed leaders of Peru's extreme-left
Shining Path guerrillas should be released from prison
because the group no longer represented a threat.
Humala's parents have openly discussed how they
raised their children to take power if necessary
through a military coup. Isaac Humala says that is why
he sent two of his sons to a military academy to become
"If I command 60, 100, or 1,000 armed men, I can
take the palace and from the palace impose
ethno-nationalism," he said, referring to the creed he
preaches based on racial superiority of Peru's dark-skinned
The Humalas say they prepared their seven
children from a young age to be revolutionaries. At
dinner each child had to spend a few minutes
discussing some aspect of Peruvian history.
"Isaac Humala should be investigated by child
care agencies," said former interior minister Fernando
Rospigliosi, a political scientist. "God only knows
what he put into his children's heads during their
formative years." (AP)