Peru: Pedro Castillo deposed and arrested, his vice-president invested
Sylvie Claire / December 8, 2022
The Peruvian president Pedro Castillo was on Thursday in detention in a base of the police force in Lima, the day after his impeachment and his arrest during a day rich in twists and turns which saw his vice-president Dina Boluarte invested at the head of the Latin American country, customary of the political crises.
The third impeachment procedure got the better of the leftist president. Mr. Castillo tried his luck by announcing the dissolution of the Parliament that was trying to bring him down, a maneuver immediately qualified as a "coup d'état" by many personalities.
Pedro Castillo, 53, who came to power in July 2021, was "placed under arrest," announced prosecutor Marita Barreto.
Images showed the deposed head of state sitting in an armchair, surrounded by prosecutors and police.
According to the Peruvian media, Mr. Castillo was then transferred by helicopter towards a base of the special forces of the police force in Lima, where he should be held for a maximum duration of 15 days.
The public prosecutor's office carried out moreover in the evening of Wednesday of the searches to the presidential palace.
A judicial source specified to the AFP that an investigation for "rebellion" had been opened against Mr. Castillo who will have directed the country only seventeen months.
This is in addition to six other investigations into corruption and influence peddling, offences for which members of his family and political entourage are also accused.
His impeachment on the grounds of "moral incapacity" was broadcast live on television and was approved by 101 of the 130 parliamentarians, 80 of whom are in opposition.
In a last-ditch effort to save his job, the former president announced the dissolution of parliament just hours before it was to meet to decide his fate.
He had also announced the establishment of an "exceptional emergency government" and wanted to "convene a new Congress with constituent powers" as soon as possible. A maneuver ignored by Parliament and widely denounced by the political class.
According to the police, after the failure of his attempt at dissolution, Mr. Castillo intended to take refuge in the Mexican embassy and seek asylum, but he was arrested before.
"Today there was a coup d'état in the purest style of the 20th century," denounced Constitutional Court President Francisco Morales, saying that "no one owes obedience to a usurper government.
The independent political analyst Augusto Alvarez declared to the AFP that Mr. Castillo had "violated the article 117 of the Peruvian Constitution and (was) in the illegality. It is an auto-coup of state ».
At the time of a ceremony of investiture in front of the Parliament where she was girded with the presidential sash to become the first woman president of Peru, Dina Boluarte, also repeated that there had "been an attempt of coup d'état promoted by Pedro Castillo which found no echo in the institutions of the democracy nor in the street".
"I assume (the power) according to the Constitution of Peru, from this moment" and until "July 2026", when was to end the mandate of Mr. Castillo, said the lawyer of 60 years stemming from the same party of Marxist inspiration (free Peru) that him.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered quietly in front of the Parliament.
"We are tired of this corrupt government, of this government that has been stealing from us since day one," Johana Salazar, a 51-year-old worker, told AFP.
Others defended Mr. Castillo and called for "respect for the people's vote", like Sissy, a 50-year-old municipal employee, who said that "since the president arrived, they have humiliated him, they have not accepted a president from the provinces", referring to the former teacher in rural areas for 24 years, a political novice.
The United States immediately made it known that it no longer considered Pedro Castillo to be the country's current president. "We will categorically reject any act that violates (...) any Constitution, any act that undermines democracy," said State Department spokesman Ned Price.
Brazil's President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he found it "always regrettable that a democratically elected president should suffer such a fate", but he was pleased that "everything was carried out within the constitutional framework".
The Spanish government and the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro denounced a "rupture of the constitutional order" in the attempts of Mr. Castillo, while Madrid welcomed "the restoration of democratic normality ».
Pedro Castillo had already escaped two motions of impeachment for "moral incapacity" -- which had previously brought down two presidents in office, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (right) in 2018 and Martin Vizcarra (center) in 2020 -- the last of which was in March 2022.
In particular, he was accused of repeated ministerial crises and the formation of four governments in eight months, an unprecedented event in Peru.