Peruvian President in eye of another political storm

The Prosecutor’s office has opened a new investigation against President Pedro Castillo. At the same time, the far-right opposition has announced the presentation of a bill seeking reduction of votes necessary for presidential vacancy

July 28, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
The Peruvian Prosecutor’s Office has opened a new investigation against President Pedro Castillo for the alleged crime against the administration of justice for personal concealment. Photo: Pedro Castillo/Twitter

Just one year since his swearing in, President Pedro Castillo is once again under public scrutiny. On July 21, the Peruvian Prosecutor’s Office opened a new investigation against President Pedro Castillo for the alleged crime against the administration of justice for personal concealment. The investigation came a day after the former Interior Minister Mariano González accused the head of state of obstructing graft investigations of close allies.

González, who unexpectedly resigned on July 19 after serving in the position for two weeks, accused president Castillo of “interfering and obstructing justice”, fundamentally after the formation of a special police unit to track down and arrest allies of the president who are under criminal investigation. Presidential allies under investigation include a former transportation minister, a former presidential adviser, a nephew and Castillo’s sister-in-law.

On July 21, a Parliamentary Oversight Commission was also installed in light of the former minister’s accusations. González, who was summoned to testify before the commission, said that he resigned because the president questioned some of his decisions, without ordering him to reverse them, however, he said that he intended otherwise. He didn’t present evidence and insisted that Castillo should be impeached by the Congress.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Aníbal Torres, who also appeared before the commission along with the new Interior Minister Willy Huerta, ratified that González was reproached for non-compliance with the emergency declaration in Lima, Callao and Trujillo, a responsibility which was entrusted to him; the lack of actions during his administration; and the fact that he manifested the non-existence of citizen insecurity.

Huerta, for his part, assured that the police team created by González, which he considered virtually dissolved due to his dismissal, would be strengthened with greater logistical resources and with attention to other requirements of the Prosecutor’s Office.

Nevertheless, the far-right opposition, taking advantage of the new allegations, has called for the vacancy of the Peruvian head of state.

Legislator Jorge Montoya of the Popular Renewal party, once again attacking the president, announced the presentation of a third presidential vacancy motion before the new Board of Directors of Congress. He said that “the legislators who vote against (the vacancy) will mean that they are in collusion with this corrupt government.”

At the same time, the parliamentary bench of the Avanza País party announced that it would present a bill with the proposal of reducing the votes necessary for the presidential vacancy from 87 to 78 and thereby bring Castillo’s impeachment closer, which has failed twice before due to lack of sufficient votes.

The political struggle for Castillo, who completes one year in office today, July 28, seems endless. Since his inauguration, his government has been constantly attacked by the country’s far-right forces, which never accepted his electoral victory.

The right-wing oligarchy that controls private and public agencies in the country have been running smear campaigns in mainstream media against Castillo and his ministers. The far-right opposition-controlled Congress, taking advantage of these campaigns, has been regularly presenting impeachment motions against Castillo and his cabinet ministers. The country’s so-called independent judiciary has been supporting their baseless accusations unconstitutionally.

In the past year, Castillo has had five investigations opened against him, accusing him of allegedly having committed various crimes. He has also faced and survived two vacancy motions. He has been forced to reshuffle his cabinet three times, and has changed over two dozen ministers over disputes and disagreements with the Congress. During these months, the congress has impeached at least three ministers and has presented a motion of censure against over a dozen ministers.