Peru's President Pedro Castillo gambled big, but overplayed his hand: by dissolving the congress, the left-wing politician wanted to forestall a vote of no confidence in parliament - but in the end he miscalculated. Both his own cabinet and the opposition sensed a coup d'etat and let the former village schoolteacher appear. At the end of the day, Castillo was in custody - the charge: rebellion.
By a large majority, Congress impeached the 53-year-old yesterday for "permanent moral unfitness." A whole series of investigations into allegations of corruption and plagiarism are underway against the head of state. 101 MPs eventually voted in favor of impeachment, 6 against and 10 abstained. Castillo probably has himself to blame for the clear vote with his showdown. It was still unclear in the morning whether the 87 votes for the motion of no confidence would even come together.
Then Castillo announced the dissolution of Congress. He wanted to set up an emergency government and rule by decree in the future. "Congress has destroyed the rule of law, democracy and the balance between state powers," Castillo said. "We call on all civil society institutions and all social groups to support the decision." Politicians from the government camp and the opposition saw this as a coup d'état.
Apparently Castillo had miscalculated. According to surveys, Congress, which is considered thoroughly corrupt, is still significantly less popular than the government. But the head of state probably went too far with his showdown: numerous cabinet members deserted him, most notably Vice President Dina Boluarte.
"I reject Pedro Castillo's decision to bring about the collapse of the constitutional order by dissolving Congress. This is a coup that deepens the political and institutional crisis that Peruvian society must overcome in strict compliance with the law," she wrote on twitter.
After Castillo was ousted by Parliament, Boluarte was sworn in as the new president. "I am aware of the enormous responsibility that lies ahead of me and I call for the unity of all Peruvians," said the 60-year-old lawyer in her inaugural address to Congress. "I call for a broad dialogue between all political forces." Boluarte is the first female head of state in the history of the South American country.
investigation into rebellion
Castillo was eventually pinned down in the center of the capital, Lima. The public prosecutor accuses him of an attack on the constitutional order of the country. The Attorney General's Office announced that he was being investigated for rebellion.
The United States condemned Castillo's dissolution of Congress as a breach of the constitution, while Mexico's government was open to granting asylum to the deposed president. The Organization of American States (OAS) supported the new President Boluarte. "Today the constitutional order was intervened in Peru. I assure Dina Boluarte of our support for democracy, peace and institutions in Peru and the urgent need to restore the democratic path in that country," said OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro.
Castillo's government has been under pressure since the former village school teacher took office in July last year. Because of various allegations and differences of opinion, important ministers repeatedly vacated their posts. Just two weeks ago, Castillo appointed a new head of cabinet - the fifth in just under a year and a half. Since taking office, he had survived two impeachment trials.
Bittere Armut im Land
The left-wing politician never held a political office before he was elected president. The farmer, teacher and trade unionist mainly represented rural Peru. But farmers and indigenous people in particular have hardly been able to benefit from the considerable economic growth of recent years and often live in abject poverty. During the coronavirus pandemic, Peru had one of the highest mortality rates in the world - many of the country's 33 million residents simply could not afford to stay at home for financial reasons.
"Castillo's decision to dissolve Congress while lawmakers prepare to vote on his impeachment is a testament to the president's weakness and lack of political strategy," Peruvian political scientist Andrea Moncada told Americas Quarterly. "It's clear Castillo thought he could avoid impeachment this way, but it was an impulsive, ill-considered decision."
The government of the left-wing politician was also in a permanent power struggle with the conservative forces-dominated parliament. Most recently, Congress refused the head of state permission to travel to the Pacific Alliance summit in Mexico, thereby canceling the meeting. Numerous parliamentarians are also being investigated for various allegations. Two of Castillo's predecessors were removed from office in similar proceedings.