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Pedro Castillo

President Pedro Castillo: ‘I Did Not Want To Obey The Power Groups’

On Tuesday, February 7, El Salto published an exclusive interview with Peruvian President Pedro Castillo. Castillo has been detained for two months since being ousted by congress, which immediately placed Dina Boluarte in power. In the interview, Castillo stressed that he did not want to obey “social and economic power groups… putting the people above all else.” From the moment of his irregular arrest, protests began in Peru. More than 60 deaths have occurred due to the repression ordered by Boluarte, plunging the country into a deep and violent political and institutional crisis. The discontent manifested in various areas of Peru and has moved to the capital, Lima. Protesters are demanding Boluarte’s resignation, early elections and the constituent assembly that Castillo had promised.

Peru: Overthrow Of President Castillo Exposes The Race And Class Divide

Unfulfilled campaign promises, accusations of corruption, and even an attempted self-coup cannot turn the many supporters of Peruvian President Pedro Castillo against him. The president has probably ceased to represent hopes for change,  but he still symbolizes —perhaps more now than ever— structural discrimination in Peru. In Lima, the political, economic, and intellectual elites are intrigued. They wonder why the majority of Peruvians in the streets are demanding Castillo’s release. They are even more disconcerted by the minority that insists he be reinstated. It is not surprising that the ruling class is disoriented. For decades they have been isolated from the rest of the country, moving about comfortably in Lima’s de facto Apartheid, perpetuating a dynamic that tends to dehumanize Indigenous, working-class Peruvians.

Peru: Congress To Advance Elections As Anti-Coup Protests Intensify

The decision to change the electoral calendar came following the call for further intensification of nationwide protests demanding the release and reinstatement of ousted left-wing President Pedro Castillo, the resignation of the de-facto President Dina Boluarte, the dissolution of the right-wing dominated unicameral Congress, fresh parliamentary elections, and the establishment of a Constituent Assembly to change the country’s 1993 Constitution. On Monday, December 19, several Indigenous, peasant, and social movements from Apurímac, Arequipa, Ayacucho, and Puno regions, among others, called on the citizens to strengthen strikes and reinforce roadblocks across the country, beginning December 20. The legislators of the left-wing Free Peru party, which sponsored Castillo’s presidential candidacy in 2021, voted against the bill and insisted on their demand to call for Constituent Assembly elections alongside the next general elections.

Peruvians Resist The Coup: ‘We Are Here To Support Our President’

“You’re probably wondering who paid me to be here,” a man in his 40s, from the southern Andean province of Ica, said to me. “Well, no one paid me to be here. We are doing this because our hearts are with the homeland, because I want my Peru to change, because a government that was trying to do this was unjustly overthrown.” Luis Alberto (name changed) is one of hundreds of Peruvians who traveled to Peru’s capital, leaving behind his home and his employment, to protest the coup against Pedro Castillo as well as his detention, which took place on December 7, 2022. We met outside the Barbadillo Prison in the eastern part of Lima. This prison is where constitutional president Pedro Castillo is being held in pre-trial detention, which was just extended to 18 months by a judge on Thursday, December 15.

Why Peru Has Had Seven Presidents In Six Years

In just over six years, Peru has had seven different presidents. The period between July 2016 and December 2022 has been a time of deep political instability. This chaos is largely due to Peru’s deeply undemocratic constitution, which was inherited from the far-right US-backed dictator Alberto Fujimori, who governed the country with an iron fist from 1990 until 2000, committing genocide against the Indigenous population and killing, torturing, and disappearing thousands of dissidents. Article 113 of Peru’s constitution gives the unicameral congress the ability to remove presidents if two-thirds of members vote to declare that they have a “moral incapacity.”

Peru Coup: CIA Agent Turned US Ambassador Met With Defense Minister Day Before President Overthrown

The US ambassador in Peru, a veteran CIA agent named Lisa Kenna, met with the country’s defense minister just one day before democratically elected left-wing President Pedro Castillo was overthrown in a coup d’etat and imprisoned without trial. Peru’s defense minister, a retired brigadier general, ordered the military to turn against Castillo. The coup set off mass protests all across Peru. The unelected regime has unleashed brutal violence, and police have killed numerous demonstrators. Meanwhile, the US government has staunchly supported Peru’s unelected coup regime, which declared a nation-wide “state of emergency” and deployed the military to the streets in an attempt to crush the protests.

Golpe In Peru: Castillo Under Arrest, People Demand A Constituent Assembly

Regardless of Castillo presidency’s evident shortcomings and mistakes, his ouster represents a grave setback for democracy in Peru and Latin America as a whole. His election last year took place on the back of an almighty crisis of credibility and legitimacy of a political system rigged with corruption and venality in which presidents were forced to resign on corruption charges (some ended in prison), with one committing suicide before being arrested on corruption charges. In the last six years Peru has had six presidents. The rot was so advanced that no mainstream political party or politician could muster sufficient electoral support to succeed in winning the presidency in 2021 (the main right-wing party, Fuerza Popular’s candidate got less than 14% of the vote in the first round).

Peruvians Continue To Resist As Anti-Coup Protests Enter Second Week

Since December 7, tens of thousands of citizens have been protesting in different parts of Peru against the ouster of democratically elected left-wing President Pedro Castillo in a legislative coup carried out by the right-wing dominated unicameral Congress. For the last week, Peruvians have been on the streets demanding that the former President Castillo, who was illegally arrested following his removal from office, be immediately released and reinstated. They are also demanding the effective dissolution of the Congress which currently has an 11% approval rating. The citizens are also demanding that a Constituent Assembly be convened to draft a new constitution to replace the current neoliberal one, which favors the right-wing oligarchy.

The US Egged On The Coup In Peru

On December 7, 2022, Pedro Castillo sat in his office on what would be the last day of his presidency of Peru. His lawyers went over spreadsheets that showed Castillo would triumph over a motion in Congress to remove him. This was going to be the third time that Castillo faced a challenge from the Congress, but his lawyers and advisers—including former Prime Minister Anibal Torres—told him that he held an advantage over the Congress in opinion polls (his approval rating had risen to 31 percent, while that of the Congress was just about 10 percent). Castillo had been under immense pressure for the past year from an oligarchy that disliked this former teacher. In a surprise move, he announced to the press on December 7 that he was going to “temporarily dissolve the Congress” and “[establish] an exceptional emergency government.”

Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia Back Peru’s President Castillo

The governments of Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and Bolivia released a joint statement supporting Peru’s democratically elected President Pedro Castillo, saying he is the victim of “anti-democratic harassment.” Castillo was overthrown in a coup d’etat on December 7, led by the infamously corrupt right-wing opposition that controls Peru’s unicameral congress, which has an approval rating of between 7% and 11%. The US-dominated Organization of American States (OAS) and State Department have openly supported the coup, backing unelected leader Dina Boluarte, who declared herself president in collaboration with the congress. Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, and Colombia wrote that they “express their profound concern for the recent events that resulted in the removal and detention of José Pedro Castillo Terrones, president of the Republic of Peru.”

Five Killed By Police During Anti-Coup Protests In Peru

Since December 7, tens of thousands of Peruvians have been protesting in different parts of the country in rejection of the parliamentary coup that took democratically elected left-wing President Pedro Castillo out of office and led to his arrest. On December 7, Peru’s right-wing dominated unicameral Congress approved the third vacancy (impeachment) motion against Castillo. Hours following his removal from office, he was arrested and charged with allegedly “breaching constitutional order” for having tried to dissolve the Congress before the vote on the motion. For the past five days, the protesters have been organizing peaceful mobilizations and roadblocks across the national territory demanding that former President Castillo be immediately released and reinstated as the president of the country.

Perú: Attempts To Remove Castillo Continued Until Abrupt End

Rural teacher and trade unionist Pedro Castillo has had a troubled presidency. From the beginning, he faced attempts by the right wing in parliament, where the extreme right predominates, to remove him. However, he was also weakened by his abandonment of campaign proposals that raised many hopes among Peruvians, the serious shortcomings of his management, repeated signs of ineffectiveness, questioned appointments, and corruption scandals. There were four attempts to remove him from the presidency before Castillo decided to attempt carrying out his own coup against Congress, trying to shut it down in an unconstitutional decision that failed. Castillo surprisingly won the 2021 elections. In a fragmented election, he went to the second round with 19 percent of the votes and narrowly defeated Keiko Fujimori.

Peru: The Political Crisis Worsens

The crisis in Pedro Castillo’s government is worsening. Less than a month before the rural teacher and trade unionist who came to power as candidate of the left completes his first year in the presidency, the right wing, which from the first day of the government has bet on a coup, accelerates its plans to remove him from office abusing the power of the Congress that it controls. The instability of the government is accentuated by the destabilizing maneuvers of the right wing, which in its coup plans has the support of the big media, but one cannot deny the responsibility of a presidential administration that has moved away from its proposals for change, is now inoperative and lacks direction, is stained by allegations of corruption, accumulates errors and controversial ministerial appointments, and is weakened from within by sectarian attitudes and divisions in the governing party.

Peru Is Engaged In A Political War

The political landscape in Peru is pretty complicated these days. The country has been living a political crisis for years due to the desire of a small minority to control the country both economically and politically. From 2016 until today, five people have occupied the presidential chair. All of them have faced tremendous resistance from Congress, which impeached two of them and threatened to do it with the other two, including the current President Pedro Castillo. The last remarkable event of these tireless attempts by Congress to impeach Castillo was unveiled by the weekly “Hildebrandt en sus Trece”. According to the outlet, two politicians, together with some Congress members from the opposition, including the Congress President Maria del Carmen Alba, gathered in the hotel “Casa Andina de Miraflores” to discuss the best way to get President Castillo out of the way.

Peru’s Socialist President, Pedro Castillo, In His Own Words

Peru’s presidential campaign between leftist Pedro Castillo and right-wing Keiko Fujimori has been an epic struggle. When it was clear that Castillo would win with a razor-thin margin, Fujimori — like Donald Trump — cried fraud and is now trying to carry out an electoral coup. While international observers, and even the US State Department, agree that the elections were free and fair, Fujimori’s legal maneuvers have managed to delay the official declaration of the winner, sow even more division among the public, and embolden the far right.
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