Mexico City, Mexico, December 10, 2022 (venezuelanalysis.com) –Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro denounced the parliamentary coup against democratically elected President Pedro Castillo in Peru.
Castillo who was ousted by parliament and subsequently detained Wednesday after announcing the dissolution of Peru’s Congress in an attempt to outmaneuver the legislative body.
A former rural teacher and trade unionist, Castillo was elected president on July 28, 2021 after narrowly defeating his far-right rival Keiko Fujimori, daughter of imprisoned former Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori. An outsider candidate who shocked the Peruvian political establishment,, Castillo then faced efforts to contest the results and then a relentless destabilization campaign from his right-wing political rivals.
“[Peruvians] elected a teacher to the presidency, Pedro Castillo, and from the first moment of the election they [the opposition] didn’t want to recognize his victory. In the end, compelled by reality, they had to recognize his triumph as president [but] once sworn in on July 28th 2021, the conspiracy for a parliamentary coup begins,” said Maduro during a television broadcast Thursday.
Castillo ran for the presidency on behalf of a party that is self-described as Marxist and advocates for a progressive nationalist development agenda aimed at redistributing the country’s wealth to the poor.
Héctor Béjar, Castillo’s first foreign minister, lambasted the Lima Group, the ad-hoc organization of right-wing governments formed in 2017 that sought to promote regime change in Venezuela, and sought to restore diplomatic relations with Venezuela, meeting with then Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza. Béjar was among the first of the Peruvian president’s ministers to be pushed out from office, lasting only 19 days as foreign minister. Other progressive members from Castillo’s first cabinet would face the same fate.
A rural school teacher and a political neophyte, Castillo struggled to establish a stable government in the face of obstructionist efforts from Congress and the country’s political and media establishment. Castillo even solicited help from other governments in the region, with Mexico’s President Andres Manuel López Obrador dispatching Secretary of the Treasury Rogelio Ramírez de la O to advise him.
Over time Castillo would be overwhelmed by Congress’ maneuvers, eventually falling out with his political party and pivoting to the right in a bid to secure some stability, later turning to the Organization of American States (OAS) for support.
His tenure had five cabinets.A revolving door of ministers saw some resigning over frustrations with his governance style and others growing tired of the political gridlock.
The day of his ouster, Congress was set to vote on a third impeachment motion. Requiring a two-thirds supermajority, Castillo had only narrowly avoided impeachment in earlier attempts.
Exhausted from the constant efforts by lawmakers to impede his ability to govern, Castillo announced Wednesday the dissolution of Congress and the installation of an “exceptional emergency government” that would rule by decree. He further called for the election of a new constituent congress to draft a new constitution for Peru, a longtime demand by popular movements that sought to replace the 1993 Constitution implemented during the Fujimori dictatorship.
Castillo’s move had a constitutional basis, with Article 134 granting the president the power in the event that two cabinets were rejected. According to the Spanish newspaper El País, Castillo was advised by constitutional lawyer and confidant Aníbal Torres.
However, the maneuver would backfire after the country’s political class and the Armed Forces, together with the National Police, said they would not support the move. Castillo’s dissolution was quickly labeled a “self coup”, with the US Embassy in Peru calling it “extra constitutional”.
After losing support from the Armed Forces, Castillo opted to seek political asylum in Mexico, with President López Obrador mandating the Mexican ambassador to receive him. Castillo tried to reach the Mexican Embassy in Lima but was detained before he could arrive.
The Peruvian president was subsequently taken by helicopter to the Barbadillo high security jail where he remains under preventative detention awaiting formal charges.
Peru’s Congress then approved Castillo’s ouster and named Vice President Dina Boluarte as President. Boluarte has pledged to finish her term, set to expire in 2026.
Protests calling for the dissolution of Congress and fresh elections have broken out in various parts of the country. The General Confederation of Workers of Peru has called for a nationwide strike.
The ouster of Castillo came days after an Argentine court sentenced Vice President Cristina Fernández to six years in prison and ordered her political disqualification from office for life. The case against Fernández has been widely labeled a “lawfare” campaign aimed at neutralizing political candidates.
Commenting on the attempts to use lawfare and parliamentary coups to weaken leftist rivals, Maduro warned that the far right was sending a message.
“This is the message the extreme right is sending to the popular movements, to the progressive movements, ‘We are not going to allow you to govern’,” the Venezuelan president stated.
Edited by Ricardo Vaz in Caracas.