From president to prisoner

The ex-president Pedro Castillo has broken several records in the strident Peruvian politics. he did the briefest coup in our history, so lavish in dictatorships. It only lasted 88 minutes. His political clumsiness was, inadvertently, also a historical claim: he turned his vice president Dina Boluarte as the first woman to wear the presidential sash in 200 years of republican life.

On Wednesday, December 7, the rural professor, who accidentally became president of Peru, he ate breakfast like head of state and went to bed like a convict. He slept in the cell next to the one occupied by Alberto Fujimori, an autocrat who pioneered self-coups. The difference is that on April 5, 1992, the people did support Fujimori and the Armed Forces and Police were his partners.

Castillo was not supported by his closest circle of sobon ministers. His Praetorian Guard, made up of Ministers Salas, Sánchez and Chero, whose sole function was to defend him in the media against serious charges of corruption, in an obsequious manner, under the slogan “cover the sun with one finger”, stampeded out from the Government Palace after seeing and listening to what Castillo was reading with trembling hands. A speech that he, evidently, he had not written.

When he announced the dissolution of Congress, the intervention of the Judiciary, the Prosecutor’s Office, the state of siege and a call for elections to elect a constituent assembly – the unrealizable plan of Vladimir Cerron, the founder of Peru Libre, the far-left party that brought him to power– did not seem to understand the dimension of his words and was even less convinced to put into practice the dictatorial regime he had just described. I was scared.

A few hours later, the head of his first ministerial cabinet, Guido Bellido, visited him in his cell and later declared to the press that Castillo says he doesn’t remember that appeared on national television announcing his coup d’état. on the eve Bellido had requested a toxicological test for Castillo because, according to his analysis, someone had drugged him to force him to read that short speech that dynamited his presidency.

All the reflectors pointed to Betssy Chávez Chino. Chávez is a young lawyer, elected to congress by the government party, but whose ambition led her to climb the heights of power until she held three ministerial portfolios at the age of 32. She was the last president of the Council of Ministers of Castillo. However, her ambition is inversely proportional to her preparation, if we take into account that she was denounced for plagiarizing his thesis Master’s degree at the National University of Tacna, the neighboring region of Chile where she is from.

His party loyalties are also in question: he quickly resigned from Peru Libre to form a tiny bench that was the first pro-government split in Congress. His detractors within the party say his methods of rapidly escalating power are unorthodox. Images of President Castillo’s visits to his single apartment were leaked to the press in the early hours of the morning when she was already Minister of Labor, a position from which she was censured by Congress for poor management with votes from Peru Libre. But young Betssy returned before long, with more power.

After an operation, with thirty kilos less weight, but with much more ancestry with Professor Castillo, was appointed Minister of Culture without having any experience or preparation to occupy that ministry in a country like Peru, with a great archaeological legacy and living culture. She also did not have it to be Minister of Labor and Employment Promotion.

In that portfolio, his greatest achievement was give employment to her boyfriend’s family, whom he denied several times, and to his closest colleagues from his university. In addition to making companies related to these people obtain contracts with the State. Even so, Pedro Castillo decided to make her head of his fifth ministerial cabinet. It seemed that he had decided for direct confrontation with the opposition in Congress, judging by the attitude of the new head of the cabinet. He didn’t last long.

A third vacancy motion against Castillo and, above all, forceful testimonies from his former close collaborators, who received the award-winning denunciation precipitated his self-coup. On the same morning that he committed political suicide by announcing the institutional breakdown, Castillo and his closest circle listened to the testimony, given from a Lima jail, by Salatiel Marrufo, a former official of the Ministry of Housing who declared that he had personally delivered corruption money to the same president and his sister on a monthly basis, as part of the conditions for him and his minister to remain in office.

A couple of days earlier, his former head of the Intelligence Directorate revealed in journalistic interviews that he had timely informed the president of all the criminal acts of his collaborators. But Castle did nothing. Quite the contrary, he asked him to organize the escape of his former minister Juan Silva, who remains a fugitive from justice, and his nephew Fray Vásquez Castillo, operator of the criminal organization that, according to the prosecution’s hypothesis, is led by Pedro Castillo Terrones.

In short, it was a self-coup that condenses the spirit of the Castillo government: improvisation, supine inefficiency and total ignorance of reality. The coup leader Castillo did not even control his escort, who detained him when he had ordered them to take him to the Mexican embassy in Lima. Once Congress in special session removed him with 101 votes out of 130, the former president had positioned himself as a flagrant criminal.

The police chief ordered the presidential escort to stop him before he arrived at the Mexican diplomatic legation where, by order of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, they were waiting for him with open doors. The small problem was that, at that time, dozens of residents of San Isidro had spontaneously mobilized to the front of the embassy to prevent Castillo from entering with their bodies and their cars. It was not necessary.

the successor

Dina Boluarte Zegarra has also become the pfirst woman president of Peru accidentally. Is a Quechua-speaking lawyer born in a small mountain town in the Apurímac region. She is 60 years old, she has been divorced fifteen years ago, she always wanted to be a notary but her professional career only reached her to be a third-level official in the Peruvian civil registry. Her interests were more social than professional, to the point that she was elected president of the Apurímac Club, a social institution that brings together her countrymen in the capital.

She is a woman of faith, she usually entrusts herself to various virgins and listens mass every sunday. That is why one of her first activities as her president was to receive the Archbishop of Lima, Monsignor Carlos Castillo, who gave her a rosary blessed by the Pope. It will be a special one in her personal collection. On the second day of her stay in the palace, she received the procession of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception. From her He entrusted himself to her and danced a huainito, the characteristic dance of the Peruvian highlands.

His Catholic faith has been combined with his political vocation. She tried to make a neighborhood movement in her neighborhood to run for mayor of Surquillo, a lower-middle-class district where she lives in Lima. But she was not even able to collect the signatures to sign up. Someone introduced him to Cerrón and he was part of his group Peru Libertario, the predecessor of Peru Librewith which she ran for mayor of her district in 2016. She fell far behind among the candidates.

In 2020, he ran for Congress for Peru Libre to complete the mandate of the parliament dissolved by Vizcarra. She was not chosen either. Arrival of the 2021 election, BOluarte reached the presidential plate of Peru Libre basically because an electoral law called de “parity and alternation” which forces the candidates to be half men and the other women women alternately. Yes Vladimir Cerron put Professor Castillo as a presidential candidate, found that the lawyer Dina Boluarte could be the vice president.

The owner of Peru Libre did not have the remotest hope of going to the second round, he just wanted to keep his party’s registration and, if anything, get some seats in Congress to feel protected from the corruption accusations that he was dragging along in his wake. as governor of the Junín region. But The stars aligned and in a Peru devastated by the pandemic, Castillo won the first round with close to 19% of votes and went to the second with Keiko Fujimori. The rest is known history.

As the first president of Peru, Dina Boluarte also drags three questions in his short political career. He opened a bank account where money of illicit origin was deposited to pay the civil compensation imposed by the courts on Vladimir Cerrón. He recently became a money laundering prosecutor la included as part of an organization that would have diverted public funds to finance the Peru Libre party and its leader, the doctor Cerrón.

He also has an administrative questioning because to run for vice presidency did not resign from his position in the civil registry (Reniec) despite the fact that the law requires it because this body is considered part of the electoral system. And, finally, she was constitutionally denounced because she, already as Minister of State and Vice President, carried out procedures in her capacity as president of the Apurímac Club, which current legislation classifies as influence peddling. This accusation advanced auspiciously in Congress, but a few days ago it was shelved by a vote of 13 to 8 in the Subcommittee on Constitutional Accusations. Apparently, it was part of a political agreement anticipating the fall of Castillo, jeopardized by serious cases of corruption.

In their first days in command From a country in permanent political crisis, Boluarte has called for a truce to form his first ministerial cabinet, has summoned all the parties with representation in Congress and, unlike his predecessor, attends to reporters who follow his activities.

The only one who can guarantee that she will complete the term until 2026 is her. He has to deal with leftist radicals who are calling for new elections and freedom for the coup leader Castillo. Also with a disappointing Congress that has no intention of shortening his term. And to a country detained and looted in the 16 months that the Castillo era lasted. The worst president we have ever had in Peru. Being that the 7 previous former presidents are either in prison, or awaiting extradition, or prevented from leaving the country, prosecuted for serious cases of corruption. Castillo facilitated the work of justice. He’s already in a cell. Most likely it will remain in it for at least 25 years.


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