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Perú, El American

Peru in Midst of Political Crisis

Everything indicates that the conflict and instability in Peru will continue, due to Castillo’s manifest inability to manage the State

[Leer en español]

Peru, an Andean nation located on the northwestern tip of South America, is governed by the ultra-left Pedro Castillo, who was sworn in as president of the Republic of Peru on July 28, 2021. This election was somewhat marred by the shadow of fraud, prompting the opposing candidate, Keiko Fujimori, to request an audit to make the results transparent; however, this was never carried out.

In less than a year of government, President Pedro Castillo has changed a total of six ministerial cabinets, which not only denotes profound political instability, but also governmental instability, as well as demonstrating Castillo’s own serious difficulties in minimally carrying out the tasks of government.

The constant crises within the Presidency of the Peruvian Republic led to the logical action of the Legislative Power, the controlling organ of the Executive Power, through the activation of the constitutional device with the “motion of vacancy of the Presidency of the Republic.” For the second time, so far in Castillo’s term, last March 29, the Congress considered the aforementioned motion, namely impeachment, resulting in its rejection, having 55 votes in favor, 54 against and 19 abstentions.

Since that vote, a quick or unsuspecting reading could indicate that the conflict between both powers was solved, but nothing could be further from the truth. Basically, Peru is experiencing not only a long governmental crisis but also an institutional crisis, which dates back to the resignation of Alberto Fujimori, who was succeeded by the constitutional presidencies of Alejandro Toledo, Alan García, Ollanta Humala and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. The latter resigned after accusations of corruption and improper charges by the Brazilian group Odebrecht, and was replaced by Martin Vizcarra, who also resigned due to a corruption scandal.

Vizcarra was briefly followed by the center-right Manuel Merino, who barely lasted hours in the presidency, forced to resign after two deaths that took place in social protests, enabling the center-left Francisco Sagasti, who basically led Peru to a peaceful and democratic transition, handing over power to the current president, Pedro Castillo of Peru Libre, Vladimir Cerron’s party.

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The post-Fujimori era has made Peru’s politics greatly unstable. No president has had a majority in Congress since 2001, making their governments start with serious limitations when it comes to governing. In addition, it is the country with the highest number of former presidents prosecuted by the justice system, such as Toledo, Garcia, Humala, PPK and Vizcarra, unfortunately, Garcia committed suicide before being brought to justice.

Based on this context, the economic crisis generated by the Wuhan virus pandemic was added, just when 2022 was expected to be the year of recovery, it became intertwined with the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, which has had a very significant global impact given the role of the actors involved in the war: Russia as the major world exporter of crude oil and gas and Ukraine, a major world exporter of wheat among other cereals.

The avalanche of economic sanctions against Russia after the invasion volatilized the sensitive oil market, which broke its historical barrier of $100/barrel and currently keeps gravitating to that price. In the last two months, the average price of Brent oil has increased by 62%. This has an impact on the price of fuels in domestic markets, which, in turn, has an impact on transportation costs and finally on the inflationary spiral of all products. According to the FAO, world food inflation reached 12.6% in March. In cereals alone, the increase reached 17.1% and in vegetable oils more than 20%.

Of course, Peru does not escape this global reality of the high and rapid increase in the price of fuel and food, which is why, at the beginning of April, there were blockades in Lima and other important cities in the north of the country, just this week in Junin, the bastion where the Free Peru Party was born. The same overflowed into violent street demonstrations demanding the resignation of the president. All this forced President Castillo to decree a curfew in the early hours of the morning, a measure that was lifted hours later, after serious criticism from the opposition regarding its illegality.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that so far, five people have died in the protests. Of course, the deaths are not measured with the same yardstick when they occur under a conservative government as under a socialist one, which is why Castillo is not the focus of international human rights NGOs. 

A tense calm has returned to the streets of Lima, while Castillo, distanced from Cerron, improvises disorderly and crudely economic palliative measures to the crisis, such as his possible general price control program. 

Everything indicates that the conflict and instability in Peru will continue, due to Castillo’s manifest incapacity in matters of state management and the complexity of the institutional problems the country suffers from.

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