LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peruvian exiled President Pedro Castillo came to power 17 months ago as a populist outsider. But he squandered what little popularity he had when he stunned the country by dissolving parliament with a politically suicidal act that recalled some of the darkest times in the country’s anti-democratic past.
At a court appearance Thursday, a judge ordered Castillo to be held in the same Lima prison on suspicion of rebellion, 30 years after Alberto Fujimori sent tanks and soldiers in a far more forceful attempt to shut down parliament. ordered.
Castillo, 53, looked down as he answered the judge’s question with a simple yes or no.
Most Peruvians have taken the banishment in stride, with the streets of downtown Lima quiet as residents go about their business. Later in the day, hundreds of Castillo supporters peacefully marched towards Congress but were stopped by riot police firing tear gas.
Meanwhile, his successor, Dina Boruarte, began the arduous task of trying to rally Peruvians behind an institution that had been ravaged over the years by endemic corruption and mistrust. Marxist lawyer Boruarte, who was Castillo’s vice president, is now Castillo’s sixth president. She is the first woman to lead a South American country of 33 million people and the only woman fluent in Quechua, the indigenous language spoken by the poor in Peru.
Polls show Peruvians disrespect Congress more than Castillo, so Voluarte appealed for a “truce” from the political feud that has paralyzed Peru for years. As part of her efforts to rebuild her country, she retracted her day-old comment that she would end her five-year term in Castillo, which ends in 2026, ruling out the possibility of holding early elections. refused to do so. A constitutional amendment that is difficult to collect.
“I know there are voices suggesting early elections, which is democratically admirable,” she said.
The Biden administration has condemned Castillo’s seizure of power as illegal and said it supports Bolarte’s call for a government of national unity. Meanwhile, several left-wing allies in Latin America have refused to raise their voices against his overthrow. called it a “soft coup” fueled by deep-seated racism against a former teacher from the high Andean highlands where indigenous peoples live.
“It’s no longer a military intervention,” Lopez Obrador said. “This is done through the control of the media by oligarchs, undermining legal and legally constituted authorities, especially if they want to do something for the benefit of long-suffering people who do not belong to the elite.”
In just three tumultuous hours on Wednesday, Castillo went from ordering the dissolution of Peru’s parliament to being replaced as vice president.
However, threats to his government have forced him to take refuge inside the presidential palace due to accusations of corruption, inexperience and incompetence, and he has been criticized as a hostile parliament made up of political elites ridiculed his humble roots. It was being built throughout his nearly 17-month presidency.
Castillo wins the run-off vote In June 2021, he campaigned with promises to nationalize Peru’s main mining industry and rewrite the constitution, winning just 44,000 votes after gaining support in rural Peru.
But since taking office, he’s been circling dozens of cabinet options, many of whom have been accused of wrongdoing. I tried impeachment first. To remove a president, two-thirds of his 130 lawmakers must vote in favor. There were only 46 people.
Congress filed a motion for retrial in March, accusing Castillo of “persistent moral incompetence.” The term is a term incorporated into the Peruvian constitution, which Congress has used more than six times since his 2017 attempt to remove the president. The effort failed, with just 55 votes in favor.
Each time, Castillo was defiant and insisted he had done nothing wrong.
“Congratulations to common sense, responsibility and democracy prevailing,” Castillo tweeted after the second attempt.
On Wednesday, Peru was gearing up for its third impeachment vote. The night before, the president said in a rare midnight address to the nation that part of Congress had it ready for him and that he was paying for the mistakes he made due to his inexperience. .
Then, just before noon on Wednesday, Castillo announced the dissolution of parliament on national television. He said elections would be held to select new members of parliament and a new constitution would be written.
The president can dismiss lawmakers to end a political stalemate, but only in limited circumstances. When President Martin Vizcarra dismissed an MP in 2019, the last time it happened was after he lost two votes in Congress.
Despite the intense political drama, only minor clashes broke out between a handful of Castillo supporters and the guarding riot police outside the Lima police station where he is being held.
Bolarte, 60, must seek reconciliation with weak powers and the absence of political parties. On Thursday, she hosted several political leaders at her presidential palace.
Getting through the political crisis is a question of what to do with Castillo.
Lopez Obrador said on Thursday that he nearly agreed with Castillo’s asylum application, calling the Mexican president’s office on Wednesday. But those plans were foiled when Castillo was stopped by police on his way to the Mexican embassy in Lima, where a group of protesters were waiting, he said. said it would meet with Castillo in prison and begin talks with Peruvian authorities about his asylum application.
Colombian President Gustavo Petro has called on the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights to intervene to guarantee Castillo’s constitutional rights and, with so many powerful interests piled up against him, a fair trial. However, echoing comments by Brazil’s next president, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, Petro left no doubt that Castillo had brought himself into trouble. There was no.
“Anti-democracy can no longer fight anti-democracy,” he wrote on Twitter.
Goodman reported from Miami. Associated Press writers Christopher Sherman and Mark Stevenson, Maria Belza of Mexico City, and Gisela Salomon of Miami contributed to this report.