The first year of the Government of Pedro Castillo in Peru, marked by expectations and frustrations

A year of hopes and disappointments, of expectations and frustrations, of uncertainty, of destabilizing maneuvers from a right-wing coup that he did not accept his electoral defeat, and of a succession of errors, ineffectiveness and corruption scandals in the Government.

So has been the first year of government of the rural teacher and left-wing trade unionist peter castlewhich is celebrated this Thursday 28. A year of extreme polarization in a non-stop war between the Executive and the Congress controlled by the right, in which Fujimorism and other far-right groups set the tone. A first year of Government that opens a scene of many doubts that Castillo can finish his presidency.

Castillo’s coming to power was a vindication of the country’s historically marginalized populations

The coming to power of Castillo, a peasant who comes from one of the poorest and most excluded areas of the country, meant a vindication of the Andean, rural, provincial and popular sectors historically marginalizedwho in the elections defeated the groups of economic power and the dominant social and political sectors concentrated in Lima, whose candidate was Keiko Fujimori.

A claim that came in the year of the bicentennial of the country’s independence and that aroused the illusion of the beginning of a historic change. The right and the dominant groups declared war on him from day one. The hopes and expectations with the new popular and vindictive government were many, and the challenge enormous. but castle has not been up to that challenge.

With a hesitant, weak management, without conviction to implement the promises of change, which were abandoned, a notorious lack of reflexes and political capacities to face the war declared by the right, an environment implicated in corruption complaints, the insistence on appointments of ministers without qualifications for the position turned into easy prey for opposition attacks, and a vocation for sectarianism and division in the government party, Castillo has ended, involuntarily, playing in favor of the right and his commitment to discredit and destroy not only his government, but any option for change.

With a hesitant, weak management, Castillo has ended up playing in favor of the right and his bet to discredit him

It has been a troubled year. Castillo began his administration by summoning other sectors of the left to put together a progressive front. It was a good start. But it didn’t last long. From his own internal front they were in charge of dynamiting that government alliance. The general secretary of the ruling party Free Peru (PL), Vladimir Cerronhell-bent on monopolizing the government for his party and for himself, became the main enemy of that progressive front that could give stability to the Government. His priority was to attack Castillo’s allies who were not from his party, for which he did not hesitate to ally himself with the extreme right.

The sectarianism of Cerrón, who declares himself a Marxist-Leninist and likes to use supposedly left-wing language but makes pacts with the extreme right, added to the corruption allegations that began to be known and the abandonment of the promises of change, ended in a few months with the progressive front.

Cerrón’s ambitions for power have distanced him from Castillo. In the last votes in Congress, the cerronista legislators have voted hand in hand with the right against the Government. Thus, Castillo reaches his first year in office more and more alone and isolated.

In this first year of Government, Castillo has had four ministerial cabinets, quite a record. One of his cabinet chiefs was a far-right legislator, who lasted just a few days. An appointment that reveals Castillo’s lack of convictions. He has changed ministers over and over again. An example of this high turnover are the seven ministers who in one year have passed through the Ministry of Interior.

In one year, Peru has had seven different interior ministers

In his first months in office, those of the progressive front, Castillo was able to show successes in economic policy and the vaccination campaign against covid, but under pressure from Cerrón, and the war from the right, he removed his two most successful ministers, those of Economy and Health. The Ministry of Economy went from the renowned left-wing economist Peter Franckewho promoted a tax reform to increase taxes on large mining companies and on wealth, to a neoliberal technocrat, the current minister oscar grahamwhich filed that reform.

The parliamentary right has tried twice to remove Castillo arbitrarily using the ambiguous figure of “moral incapacity.” In both cases he failed to get two-thirds of the votes of the unicameral Congress to carry out the parliamentary coup. Now that right promotes two constitutional accusations against the president to remove him. One is for the absurd charge of treason for having declared in a journalistic interview his sympathy with facilitating an outlet to the sea for Bolivia.

The other is for charges of corruption that are under investigation. To approve a constitutional accusation and remove the head of state for that reason, two-thirds of the votes are not needed, but only half plus one of the 130 congressmen. That is why the right now bets on this path. And it also intends to dismiss by this same mechanism the vice president Dina Boluartein order to clear the ground to capture from Congress the power that it lost in the elections.

The right accuses Castillo of treason and corruption

In a country where the last presidents are imprisoned or prosecuted for corruption, the appearance of a figure like Castillo, outside the political class, was seen as an option for change in this area as well. But in this Castillo has also been a disappointment. His entourage, including his former personal secretary, ministers and two of his nephews, are accused of corruption. The complaints of embezzlement in the allocation of public works and the collection of commissions in police promotions they dot Castillo. The president assures that he is innocent, while the complaints are under investigation in the Prosecutor’s Office.

If Castillo has fared poorly in his first year in office, the opposition Congress has fared worse. According to a survey of Ipsos of this month, Castillo has a rejection of 74% and an approval of 20%, while in the case of the Congress controlled by the right, citizen rejection rises to 79% and acceptance drops to 14%. In this scenario, the “let them all go” is heard with increasing insistence. And that happens through an advance of the presidential and parliamentary elections.

There is a question that dominates the political debate and the talks in the streets on the first year of the Castillo Government: Will the president be able to finish the five-year term for which he was elected? The insistence on this question is a reflection of the weakness of a government that walks on the edge, threatened by its opponents who want to bring it down and by its own shortcomings and internal problems. The bets on whether or not Castillo ends his government do not favor the president.

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