Castillo faces first government crisis as foreign minister quits

Lima, Aug 17 (EFE).- Peru’s President Pedro Castillo is facing his first government crisis with the resignation Tuesday of Foreign Minister Héctor Béjar after footage emerged in which he said terrorism in the country was started by the navy with support from the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

After two days of intense criticism, Béjar submitted his “irrevocable resignation” after just 19 days in the post, forcing Castillo to change in his cabinet, already questioned by the opposition.

The arrival of Béjar, an 85-year-old sociologist and former guerrilla fighter, to the foreign ministry fueled controversy from the beginning, however criticism against him intensified after Sunday when videos emerged in which he claimed “terrorism in Peru was started by the navy.”

“And that can be demonstrated historically, and they have been trained for that by the CIA,” he said.

Béjar’s statements were from a virtual chat with left-wing sympathizers in February, when Castillo was still a largely unknown candidate and was not among the likely winners of the elections.

In the recording, the former foreign minister allegedly refers to events from the 1970s, although most of the Peruvian media and the opposition have interpreted it as referring to the internal armed conflict (1980-2000) unleashed by the Maoist rebels Shining Path and the Marxist Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA).

The final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission clearly establishes that it was the Shining Path who left the democratic system to initiate an armed struggle with acts of terror that left some 69,000 dead, the majority at the hands of this group led by Abimael Guzman.

On Monday, the dissemination of the video was branded as manipulation by the foreign ministry and as deplorable by the navy, while the opposition anticipated a possible motion of censure against Béjar in congress.

After his resignation, Béjar posted on his Facebook account: “I am free again!!!”

Béjar exited less than 10 days before the new government goes to parliament to request a vote of confidence, scheduled for Aug. 26. EFE


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