In addition to having to defend himself in Congress –which decides whether to open an impeachment process on Tuesday (7)–, Peruvian President Pedro Castillo will have to testify to the Prosecutor’s Office on the 14th of the alleged pressure to promote military personnel linked to the government. from the left. Made public in November, the case led to the resignation of the defense minister, the tenth to be changed in three months of government.
The subpoena was made this Thursday (2), and the president himself will choose the place where he will testify. Castillo is not investigated, and the case is still at a preliminary stage.
The episode came to light after the president dismissed the commanders of the Army, General José Vizcarra, and the Air Force, Jorge Chaparro. The two later said that they were pressured to irregularly promote some figures in the armed forces. According to what they say, the attempts came from Minister Walter Ayala and Bruno Pacheco, Castillo’s secretary.
Both officials have resigned and are now being investigated on charges that they “incurred in the alleged commission of the crimes of abuse of authority and illegal sponsorship, provided for and sanctioned in the Penal Code,” according to the prosecution.
The case further contributed to the political crisis involving Castillo, who took power in July. On the 25th, congressmen from three right-wing parties filed a request for the president’s removal, alleging that the leader “has no moral capacity” to exercise his functions.
The request has 28 signatures, two more than required to begin the process in the country’s unicameral Parliament. The advancement of the agenda, however, is not guaranteed, as the votes of at least 40% of the 130 deputies are needed to do so. Voting is scheduled for next Tuesday.
Although the request advances in this first phase, Castillo would only lose his position if 87 congressmen voted against him — about 70% of the house. Today, the opposition has a majority in the legislature, and the governing party, Perú Libre, has 37 seats. The authors of the request are affiliated with the parties Avanza País, Renovación Popular and Fuerza Popular, led by Keiko Fujimori, candidate defeated by Castillo.
She is the daughter of Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori, who ruled the country between 1990 and 2000 and has been imprisoned since 2007 for corruption and crimes against humanity. Keiko had already announced the intention of her party — which has 24 seats — to support the impeachment request days before. “We believe that this government has shown a permanent inability to run the country,” he wrote on Twitter on the 19th.
On the same day the request was filed, the president, in turn, said he was calm. “I don’t worry about the political noises because it was the people who elected me, not the mafia and the corrupt,” he said in Jauja, 280 kilometers from Lima, where he inaugurated social works. This Friday (3), the Peruvian press reported the likely meeting between the president and parliamentarians from the Podemos Peru, Alianza para el Progreso, Morado and Somos Perú parties, in an attempt to ward off the impeachment process.
The alliance formed by the three opposing parties has been discussing, since the end of the elections, the removal of the president. The group accuses Castillo of sabotaging the electoral system, even though the process has been assessed as legitimate by electoral authorities and observers from the OAS and the European Union.
Since taking power, Castillo has struggled to govern. In October — before the case involving the military — the president changed his prime minister and part of the ministerial cabinet in search of greater dialogue with Parliament. The new names were the reason for internal disagreements within the ruling party, but ended up being approved in early November.
Amid obstacles and layoffs, he is criticized by the population, who consider him without direction. Discontent is reflected in opinion polls. One of them, released on the 14th by the French institute Ipsos, pointed out that the president’s disapproval reached 57%. If removed, the leftist leader will be another Peruvian president who has not completed his term in recent years.
In 2018, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned amid corruption scandals. His deputy, Martín Vizcarra, was sworn in and ruled for a little over two years, until he was removed in an impeachment process. On that occasion, Parliament overthrew the head of the Executive with the same argument with which the opposition is now trying to remove Castillo: based on an article of the Constitution that speaks of “moral incapacity”.
Vizcarra was then succeeded by Congressional President Manuel Merino, who was in office for just five days after street protests against his predecessor’s impeachment. Who remained in power until Castillo’s inauguration was the centrist deputy Francisco Sagasti, who took over with a conciliatory tone.