Peru’s fierce political battle rages on - GulfToday

Peru’s fierce political battle rages on

Dina Boluarte

Dina Boluarte

Ever since Pedro Castillo, the leftist president, was removed from office by the Congress for declaring that he would dissolve Congress and rule by decree, on December 7, and he was arrested for trying to overthrow the Constitution, the country has been witnessing increasing protests in the capital city of Lima, and in other parts of the country, especially in the areas. The protesters want the Congress to be dissolved and fresh elections called. The next elections are due only in 2026.

When Vice President Dina Boluarte was made president in place of Castillo, she was determined to be in office for the remaining part of the term. But as she witnessed the unrelenting protests, she had asked Congress to bring forward the elections to December 2023, but the Congress was willing to hold the elections in April 2024. And according to the Constitutional procedure, the Congress has to pass a second vote on the election date. It is quite unlikely that it will heed President Boluarte’s plea to hold the election in December 2023.

Meanwhile, Boluarte had reshuffled her cabinet twice when some of the ministers she had appointed when she became president had resigned. The angry protesters are also demanding that Boluarte resign. But the police forces have been forced to deal with the protesters, and the clash between the two has resulted in the death of 46 people. Both Boluarte and her interior minister Vicente Romero praised the role of the police. But it is becoming clear to everyone that there is no alternative to a quick election.

Castillo, who is being held in a police facility, has appealed to the police and the military to lay down arms and not obey an illegal government, even as Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia and Colombia have expressed support for Castillo. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had offered political asylum that Castillo sought before his arrest. And Peru-Mexico relations have become strained with the government asking the Mexican ambassador in Lima to leave the country. So, the internal political crisis in Peru has its ramifications beyond Peru.

The division in Peru between the supporters of Castillo and his opponents in the Congress seems to be clear. The poor people and farmers are supporting Castillo, and the conservatives in the Congress have their support among the rich people. The Congress is also defending the Constitution and its provisions as they stand now. The reason Congress removed Castillo was that he was intent on overthrowing the Constitution by dissolving the Congress and rule by decree. Castilo’s opposition to the conservative Congress has evoked huge support for the deposed president. It is for this reason that Boluarte had changed her position since she came to office in December. Now she is an ardent supporter of fresh elections, and she has been telling the protesters that she is one of them. On the other hand, those in the government feel that Castillo is being supported by drug traffickers and illegal miners were behind the protests.

Peru is no stranger to political crisis and confrontation, charges of corruption and authoritarian rulers. In the 1970s and the 1980, the extreme left movement of The Shining Path had challenged the government, and it was then that Peru had elected Alberto Fujimori as president, who then brought a semblance of order to the country. But there was revolt against Fujimori, and he is now serving a prison term on charges of corruption. The political battle in Peru is along the classical class lines, between the poor and the entrenched conservatives with their economic clout. Castillo had tried to out-manoeuvre the Congress and the Congress has hit back.

Related articles

Other Articles