Mexican president fetes diplomat expelled from Peru

Mexico City, Dec 23 (EFE).- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador included his country’s erstwhile ambassador to Peru as a special guest at his daily news briefing Friday, days after Pablo Monroy was expelled by the government in Lima.

“It is a mark of pride that they declare our ambassador persona non grata for carrying out the mission of saving lives and of executing our foreign policy, the best of our foreign policy, which is the right of asylum,” the president said in Villahermosa, capital of the southeastern state of Tabasco.

Peru’s elected head of state, Pedro Castillo, contacted Monroy on Dec. 7 to request asylum after Congress voted to remove him from office, but was detained by his own security detail while trying to reach the Mexican Embassy.

With his “outstanding work” in Peru, Monroy “exalted the name of Mexico and the prestige of its foreign policy,” Lopez Obrador, popularly known as AMLO, told reporters during a visit to his home state.

The administration that took charge of Peru after Castillo’s ouster, led by former Vice President Dina Boluarte, said it expelled Monroy because of Mexican “interference” in the Andean nation’s internal affairs.

On Dec. 12, AMLO joined the leaders of Colombia, Argentina and Bolivia in expressing “deep concern over the recent events that resulted in the removal from office and arrest of Pedro Castillo.”

The four governments said in a statement that they still regarded Castillo as Peru’s legitimate president.

AMLO, whose maternal grandfather was among the roughly 40,000 Spanish Civil War refugees admitted to Mexico in the 1930s, said that providing asylum is a “tradition of many years” in the Aztec nation.

He noted that while Castillo remains behind bars in Peru, his wife and children were allowed to take up Mexico’s offer of asylum.

“They are safe in Mexico City and we will be attentive to them, supporting and assisting them. They are not alone and that is the message for President Castillo and for all the Peruvian people,” AMLO said.

In his turn at the podium, Monroy pointed to “certain questions” about whether the Peruvian Congress “complied with the letter of the law” when it voted to remove Castillo.

For example, the diplomat said, Peru’s constitution requires a preliminary proceeding to weigh lifting the president’s immunity before a trial can commence.

The morning of Dec. 7, Castillo announced that he was dissolving Congress and would convene elections for an assembly to draft a new constitution to replace the charter enacted in 1993 under President Alberto Fujimori – now serving life in prison for massacres and embezzlement during his 10 years in power.

Castillo took that drastic step just as the opposition-controlled Congress was about to start a third round of impeachment proceedings against him for alleged corruption.

Multiple members of his Cabinet resigned and then-Vice President Boluarte echoed lawmakers in labeling the move a coup.

Congress voted to remove Castillo for “permanent moral incapacity” and installed Boluarte as the new president, sparking protests that have led so far to 27 deaths and left 650 other people injured.

Most of the fatalities occurred after the Boluarte administration imposed a nationwide state of emergency and deployed troops to the streets of Peru’s cities.

Mexico will continue to call for dialogue in Peru, Monroy said, adding, “what we don’t want is for there to be violations of human rights.”

Castillo, a 53-year-old former schoolteacher, had no previous experience of public office when he ran for president and narrowly won in a runoff against rightist Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the disgraced Alberto.

Hailing from the poor northern region of Cajamarca and without allies among the traditional governing elite in Lima, Castillo faced hostility from Congress and allegations of corruption practically from the moment he took office in July 2021.

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