Dina Boluarte became Peru’s first female President on Wednesday. It was a way to cap off an eventful day that saw her predecessor imprisoned for alleged crimes of rebellion, and impeached legislators.
Boluarte who was the ex-vice president was elected into the presidency at Congress to be Peru’s sixth president in just five years.
The ceremony took place after the majority of 101 lawmakers in the legislative body, which has 130 members, decided to remove the former leader Pedro Castillo.
The day was tense when the then-President Castillo declared plans for dissolving Congress and create an emergency government ahead of a possible impeachment vote in the legislature the Ombudsman of Peru described as an “attempted coup of etat.”
He also demanded parliamentary elections for the purpose of drafting an amendment to the constitution.
The decision triggered a series of cabinet resignations and raging responses from top officials and a scathing response from neighbors in the region but did not stop him from being impeached in Congress.
Peruvian military rebuffed the attempt of Castillo to sever lawmakers and called the move an “infringement of the Constitution.”
And Boluarte herself has criticized Castillo’s plan to dissolve the government in a tweet, describing it Twitter in the form of “a coup that is amplification of the institutional and political problem that Peruvian society must over come with strict compliance in the law.”
International officials joined in the chorus of criticisms of Castillo and The United States urging the leader to “reverse” the policy as well as “allow the democratic structures of Peru to operate in accordance with the Constitution,” US Ambassador in Peru Lisa Kenna said on Twitter.
“We will continue to oppose and firmly reject all actions that violate the Constitution of Peru, and any act that threatens the democratic process in Peru,” said US State Department spokesperson Ned Price in a statement.
The Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed “deep worry” regarding the current political situation in Peru in a tweet on Twitter in Brazil, the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in an announcement that the actions of Castillo are “incompatible with the constitution of the country, andthey are the infringement of democracy as well as rules of law.”
In a shocking sequence of events Castillo was arrested by the police in the capital city of Lima when lawmakers impeached him at Congress.
Photos shared by the prefecture show an ex-President, in blue jacket, sitting at a table as officials were signing documents.
In an announcement the Peru’s Attorney General stated that Castillo was arrested on the rebellious alleged crime “for breaching the constitutional law.”
“We condemn the violation of constitutional law” Peru’s attorney general Patricia Benavides, said in an announcement. “The Political Constitution of Peru is a stipulation of separation of powers and ensures that Peru is a sovereign and democratic republic … Any authority is able to overrule the Constitution and must abide with the Constitution’s mandates.”
CNN has contact with Castillo’s defense team to inquire about the accusations.
It’s a ghastly end to the brief period of his office. The former teacher and union leader emerged from the shadows to be elected in July 2021 with an extremely narrow edge in the runoff and was considered to be part of an “pink wave” of new left-wing political leaders across Latin America.
He campaigned on a platform that promised to amend the constitution and improve the redistribution of wealth by giving states more control over natural resources and markets which have proved difficult to achieve amid the rise in inflation in Peru and his lack of experience in politics and the strong conservative opposition in Congress.
The leftist government leader had been in chaos since its inauguration and a plethora of ministers being appointed, replaced and fired, or even stepping down from their positions in just one year, putting more pressure on the president.
Castillo has lashed out at the opposition for attempting to detain him from the very first day of his office. He has been accused by Benavides of organizing a new kind of “coup of etat” against him via the office’s investigation.
On October 1, Benavides made a complaint under the Constitution against Castillo in connection with only three investigations that her office had initiated. The complaint permits Congress to conduct an independent investigation into the former president.
A series of investigations
Castillo has been the subject of a series of inquiries into whether or not he made use of his position to gain favors for him, his relatives members and close associates by selling influence to get favour or get preferential treatment in addition to other allegations.
Castillo is repeatedly denial of any allegations and has reiterated his intention to cooperate in any investigation. Castillo claims that the accusations are the result of the alleged witch-hunt against him and his family by organizations that refused to acknowledge his victory in the election.
The former president is subject to five criminal investigations in the preliminary stage on allegations that he orchestrated corrupt schemes during his time in his position. This includes prosecutors’ claim that he headed an “criminal network” which interfered with public institutions like government agencies like the Ministry of Transport and Communications as well as the Ministry of Housing. Peru’s state-owned oil company in order to regulate public bidding procedures and profit specific businesses and their close allies.
Prosecutors are also investigating if the former President was involved in efforts to broker influence in the promotion of officers in the armed forces as well as the national police.
These investigations also investigate the Castillo family which includes his wife as well as his sister-in-law. The former first Lady Lilia Paredes is under investigation as a possible coordinator of this criminal organization. Her lawyer, Benji Espinoza, has claimed that she is innocent and says the case of the ex-first lady has “a numerous shortcomings and omissions.”
Her sister-in-law , Yenifer Paredes, is under investigation over allegedly being part of a criminal group that involved in money laundering, as well as collusion that was aggravated. She was held in detention until a judge lifted the “preventive confinement” to 30 years. She has also denied any illegal act.
“My daughter and my wife, as well as my entire family has been targeted with the sole motive of degrading me for not wanting me to complete my term I’m going to promise you that I’ll finish my term. I’m certainly not corrupt,” Castillo said during an appearance on television made from his Presidential Palace on October 20.
in the speech that followed, Castillo acknowledged that some of his most trusted associates should be brought to charges of corruption and said “If they have squandered my faith Let justice do the right thing.”
The image of President Boluarte has been tarnished due to her own constitutional probe by Congress which was disqualified on the 5th of December.
Her rise to power may not help Peru’s tense and fractious political climate as she would require cross-party support to be able to rule.
However, a lot of Peruvians have been calling for a complete reset. In September 2022 60% of Peruvians said they wanted an early election to renew both the presidency as well as Congress according to an online poll conducted of the Institute of Peruvian Studies (IEP).