Thousands march against right-wing maneuver to impeach President Pedro Castillo

In a new attempt to destabilize President Pedro Castillo’s government, the right-wing forces in Peru have presented a motion to impeach him. The attack led thousands of citizens to take the streets in defense of their president

November 27, 2021 by Tanya Wadhwa
Peruvian President Pedro Castillo. Photo: Peruvian Presidency/Twitter

On November 25, Peruvian opposition legislators from three right-wing parties, presented a motion in Congress that seeks to remove socialist President Pedro Castillo from office. The motion, which alleged “moral incapacity” of the head of state to govern, was presented with the signatures of 28 legislators of the Popular Force, Popular Renewal, and Go on Country parties.

The motion will go to a vote in Congress scheduled for December 7 and will need 52 votes from the 130 legislators for impeachment procedures to begin. If it manages to receive support to begin debate in Congress, a final vote to oust Castillo, would require 87 votes, which is an unlikely scenario. The ruling Free Peru (PL) party, with the support of the progressive Together for Peru party and the Purple Party, has the endorsement of 45 legislators. Besides, many legislators of the Popular Action, Alliance for Progress and We Are Peru have already expressed their rejection of the presidential vacancy.

President Castillo expressed that he is not concerned about the motion. In a public addressal during his visit to Jauja city in Junin region, on November 25, he said  that “I am not worried about political noise because I was elected by the people, not by the mafias or the corrupt.”

This new attempt to attack and destabilize Castillo’s government by right-wing forces received widespread rejection from different political and sectors.

Mobilization against attempt to remove Castillo

On the afternoon of November 25, the day the vacancy motion was presented, thousands of Peruvians marched through the center of the capital Lima to protest the attempt by far-right parliamentary benches to remove President Castillo. The supporters of the Free Peru party from different sectors demonstrated outside the Congress to express their support for their president and his pro-people policies.

The protest was originally organized to demand a new constitution and a constituent assembly to write it, as well as to reject the political persecution of the members of the ruling party. However, due to the presentation of the vacancy motion, its rejection became the central focus.

Political condemnation

Various progressive leaders deemed the no-confidence motion as a coup motion. Despite an internal conflict with the president, the legislators of the Free Peru party fiercely rejected the motion.

“We reject the coup motion that proposes the presidential vacancy, because President Castillo does not fall into any cause established in the Constitution that they claim to defend so much,” said Free Peru legislator Katy Ugarte. She also called on the 28 legislators, who signed the motion, “to respect the rule of law and the decision of the people, and avoid political, economic and social instability.”

“A coup has once again initiated in Congress. I am sure that the Free Peru bench will jointly support President Pedro Castillo. From Congress and the streets we will defend democracy. The vacancy will not happen,” said Óscar Zea, another Free Peru legislator.

“I have said this from day one that there is a coup sector that is only interested in removing the president. Now we will fight the battle from Congress and from the streets. They won’t succeed!,” tweeted PL legislator Guillermo Bermejo.

The legislators of the Magisterial Bloc, which also make up the Free Peru bench, also rejected the vacancy motion. In a statement, they pointed out that the motion request “has been generating political instability” and could cause a “profound economic and social crisis” in the country.

The founder and secretary general of the PL party, Vladimir Cerrón, in a tweet, declared that “parliamentary coups are a frequent practice in Latin America, at the orders of the empire, such as what happened in Honduras, Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia, to the governments of the left or to those who seem [left].”

Meanwhile, former presidential candidate and leader of the co-governing New Peru Movement, Verónika Mendoza, condemned that the motion seeks to destroy democracy. “This motion shows a pro-coup, authoritarian and undemocratic attitude, against which it is very important that all democratic, political, social and citizen sectors stand firm by rejecting these attempts to attack democracy, because it is not the vacancy of President Castillo what they are looking for, what they are looking for is to destroy democracy,” said Mendoza, in an interview with Ideeleradio.

She pointed out that the right has been seeking to dismiss Castillo since the beginning of his term four months ago, which proves that it is not a reaction to his performance in the government, “but rather a prior and premeditated intention to vacate the president.”

She also warned that the far-right groups, in line with the neoliberal press, intend to normalize presidential vacancy as if it were a simple administrative procedure, recalling the impeachment of former presidents Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and Martin Vizcarra in the past years.

Likewise, Legislator Sigrid Bazán, from Together for Peru, described the motion as “a new blow to democracy and to the popular will by those who never accepted their defeat and from the first day they spoke (without proof) of a fraud and today they are promoting a vacancy and said that “the people will respond, as they always have, in the streets.”

At the same time, business sectors have also expressed their rejection of the motion presented in parliament, as political uncertainty affects the economy. The president of the National Society of Industries (SNI), Ricardo Márquez, in a statement given to RPP, said that “we are not in favor of the vacancy. We have to try to ensure that there is legal stability, especially that the rule of law is respected.” He added that “there cannot be a country that in five years has three presidents (…) We are not going to let the country be destroyed, the institutions be destroyed.”

Since the inauguration of the progressive government on July 28, the right-wing forces in the country have been launching constant attacks. The progressive sectors have, time and again, condemned these maneuvers and denounced that they are aimed at disrupting its functioning and preventing it from bringing about social changes in the country.