Conflicts & War

Peru’s new president names 2nd Cabinet in 2 weeks

Lima, Dec 21 (EFE).- Peruvian President Dina Boluarte swore-in on Wednesday the second Cabinet of her 2-week-old “government of transition,” led by erstwhile Defense Minister Luis Alberto Otarola, who has played a major role in enforcing the nationwide state of emergency imposed last week amid unrest over the ouster and arrest of elected leftist head of state Pedro Castillo.

Replacing Otarola as defense minister is retired Gen. Jorge Chavez.

Boluarte named a new Cabinet after two members of the first one, appointed on Dec. 10, resigned to protest the “disproportionate” response of police and armed forces to demonstrations by Castillo supporters.

Twenty-seven people, five of them minors, have died in disturbances since Castillo was removed from office and arrested Dec. 7.

The president took the opportunity to make a change at the top, opting for political veteran Otarola – who last Friday expressed the Boluarte government’s “unconditional support for our armed forces and National Police in this task of establishing internal order” – over her first prime minister, ex-prosecutor Pedro Miguel Angulo.

Congress removed Castillo hours after he announced the dissolution of the legislature and plans to hold elections for an assembly to craft a replacement for the constitution enacted during the 1990-2000 authoritarian regime of Alberto Fujimori.

Castillo’s Cabinet and then-Vice President Boluarte joined lawmakers in denouncing the move as a coup and Congress voted to remove the head of state on the grounds of “permanent moral incapacity.”

Within days of becoming president, Boluarte embraced the idea of moving up the next general election, set for 2026, to April 2024.

Peru’s Congress – with an approval rating of 10 percent – failed to pass the proposal on the first try last week, but voted 93-30 with one abstention on Tuesday to move up the ballot.

Because changing the electoral calendar is a constitutional matter, the bill must be passed a second time in the next legislative session, which begins March 1, 2023.

Assuming the measure becomes law, Boluarte and the current members of Congress will remain in office until the end of July 2024.

While Pedro Castillo remains in custody, his wife and children arrived Wednesday in Mexico to take up an offer of asylum, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said.

“Ambassador Pablo Monroy, Lilia Paredes – his (Castillo’s) spouse – Arnold and Alondra Castillo arrived in Mexico City at 7:51 in the morning,” Lopez Obrador told reporters during his daily news conference.

The Boluarte government declared Monroy persona non grata on Tuesday, giving him 72 hours to leave the country in response to Mexico’s “interference” in Peruvian internal affairs, a reference to statements by Lopez Obrador about the situation in Peru.

The Mexican president, commonly known as AMLO, joined the leaders of Colombia, Venezuela and Argentina last week in denouncing the removal and jailing of Castillo and affirming that they continue to recognize him as Peru’s legitimate head of state.

Peru’s Canal N television reported that Monroy, Paredes and her children traveled to the airport from the Mexican Embassy accompanied by escorts and that the erstwhile first lady was heckled by other travelers as she made her way through the terminal.

AMLO said that Mexico will not retaliate for Monroy’s expulsion.

“I tell you that the Foreign Relations Secretariat has decided not to break relations because, among other things, we need to maintain our embassy to give protection to the Mexicans who are based, who work, who live in Peru,” the president said.

“We are not going to expel anyone, we have not done that and we’re not going to do it,” he said.

The Mexican president praised Monroy’s performance as ambassador.

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