The President of Peru, Pedro Castillo, is going through his first test by fire this Thursday (26), when Prime Minister Guido Bellido Ugarte will present, with other ministers, the main lines of the new administration to Congress. Then, parliamentarians decide whether to approve or reject the executive’s plans by a vote of confidence. 66 brackets are required for each option.
If approved, the cabinet can continue to act as planned. Otherwise, ministers must resign and the president must choose his successors within 72 hours.
The environment is uncertain, as there has been friction between the executive and the legislature. Although it has the largest bench in Congress, with 37 members, Castillo’s party, Peru Libre, does not have a majority. The second biggest legend is the right Ação Popular, with 24 seats.
The choice of Bellido to be prime minister, for example, has aroused the astonishment of lawmakers, and he is even asked to explain the acts for which he is responsible in the courts, for money laundering and apologia for terrorism. Before being elected, the prime minister made statements in support of the Shining Path guerrilla warfare – the process was suspended until the vote of confidence was defined.
There is also a rejection from the legislature over the proposal to form a new Constituent Assembly, one of Castillo’s main campaign proposals. The opposition is so strong that even a member of the government who resigned in less than a month is targeted.
Former Chancellor Héctor Béjar, who left the administration due to controversial speeches, saw parties against the president regroup to question him, as he claimed that the country’s navy, supposedly trained by the CIA , the American intelligence agency, would be behind the creation of the Shining Path.
Castillo, 51, surprised to stand out in the polls just weeks before the election. Plus: he went to the second round in first place, in a dispute between 18 candidates, with only 18.92% of the vote.
Born in Cajamarca, in northern Peru, he is the godson of Vladimir Cerrón, leader of Free Peru, former governor of Junín, admirer of Chavismo and convicted of corruption. Castillo ended up winning in the second round, by a margin of 44,000 votes, the right-wing candidate, Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the former dictator Alberto Fujimori, who is imprisoned for crimes against humanity and corruption.
It’s unusual for a cabinet to be dismissed at the earliest opportunity, and there are signs the divided opposition will grant the president a truce. On Tuesday, Veronika Mendoza, candidate for Novo Peru, the moderate left-wing party, said that “despite her criticism” she would guide the caucus to vote for.
There is also a division in Ação Popular, led by Congress leader María del Carmen Alva Prieto, whose position is ambiguous: he did not say he would vote against, but asked Castillo to “listen the voice of the people “.
Another sector of the party demanded, in exchange for the vote of confidence, that Castillo change three names in the ministry, Walter Ayala (Defense), Iber Maraví (Labor) and Juan Francisco Silva (Transport and communications). Until the publication of this text, the president had not yet decided what to do with the three posts.
A survey by the Instituto de Estudos Peruanos indicates that 79% of Peruvians want a change of ministerial cabinet. Of these, 52% want a partial change and 27% a complete change. The same poll, released last Sunday, indicates that 38% of Peruvians approve of the way Castillo is acting and 46% disapprove – 16% did not want to give an opinion.
The president, who took office on July 28, had adopted a moderate profile since the end of the electoral campaign. He promised not to nationalize and to respect the cultural, sexual and ethnic diversity of the country. On other points, however, the morally conservative discourse has not changed: it opposes abortion and marriage equality. He also did not choose a moderate cabinet, as most ministers are from his party and can be classified into a more radical left.
The only exception is Pedro Francke, considered to have a conciliatory profile and close to the market. The economist’s political and economic model is Uruguay, ruled by the Frente Amplio from 2005 to 2020. During this period, the country expanded social spending to shift aid and benefits, without making any major interventions in the economy. As a result, Uruguayan GDP has grown, on average, by 4% per year.
Also on Tuesday, Castillo said he expected Congress to grant the vote of confidence, “despite political differences.” “We must have confidence in the people to continue working. I am here for Peru and I have confidence in this cabinet.” Bellido also called for “consideration and accountability to members of Congress”.