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The Normalization Of Impeachment In Peru

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The impeachment trial of Peruvian President Pedro Castillo took an unexpected turn during its final hours. Congress was expected to vote on whether to impeach Castillo on December 7. Before doing so, Castillo announced his plan to dissolve Congress. This decision ultimately led to his impeachment and arrest. Former Vice President Dina Boluarte replaced Castillo, making her Peru’s first female president. 

However, critics argue that Congress upholds a pattern of impeachment. The most recent case, apart from Castillo, was Martin Vizcarra. Vizcarra acted as Vice President under President Pablo Kuczynski, who later resigned amid a corruption scandal. Vizcarra was elected in 2018, and served for three years under an anti-corruption campaign. This, according to AEI, “earned the ire of many in congress, where 68 members [were] under investigation for crimes ranging from graft to homicide.” 

As a result, Congress secured enough votes for an impeachment trial. Vizcarra was impeached in 2020, with allegations of COVID-19 mismanagement and bribery, as reported by NPR. Within a week, Peru managed to have three presidents. Speaker of Congress Manuel Merino served as interim president following Vizcarra’s impeachment, but five days later, Merino was replaced by Francisco Sagasti. 

Meanwhile, many Peruvians were not shy about expressing their anger and concern. According to the New York Times, “Hundreds of protests took to the streets in [Lima] to denounce what they called a congressional “coup”, accusing lawmakers of preventing justice for personal benefit.” The protests were echoing the growing political turmoil in Peru. Now two years later, the country finds itself in the same position.

In many ways, Castillo was similar to Vizcarra. When he was elected in 2021, he ran on the promise to transform the political and economic landscape of Peru. As the populist candidate and a former campesino, Castillo resonated with low-income constituents. Moreover, Castillo presented the following agendas:

  • Taxing The Rich
  • Wealth Disbursement
  • Anti-corruption
  • A Constitutional Reform

As stated by the Wilson Center, Castillo’s election was in part due to the unpopularity of his opponent [Keiko Fujimori] and a leftist movement known as the ''pink tide''.” Nevertheless, there was little transformation after a year in power. And as a result, Castillo’s approval rates dropped to 74 percent by July, as reported by the Wilson Center

In part, Castillo’s hindrance was affected by Congress and its conservative majority throughout his term. Similar to previous leaders, Castillo dealt with constant threats of impeachment. This was further exacerbated by the country’s economic stunt. Near the end of his administration, Peru Libre [Castillo’s party] lost confidence in Castillo and joined conservatives against the course of government, as reported by the Wilson Center.

Thus, Castillo entered an impeachment trial in October 2022. And according to CNN Español, “Benavides [Attorney General] filed a constitutional complaint against Castillo based on three of the six investigations her office had opened.” The corruption allegations assumed that Castillo led a “criminal network” to benefit those around him. Therefore, Castillo planned to dissolve Congress and eventually led to his impeachment. 

While attempting to reach the Mexican embassy, Castillo was arrested and taken to a police station in Lima, as reported by Aljazeera. Dina Boluarte was named Peru’s president soon after Castillo’s impeachment. However, the normalization of impeachment could potentially lead to her removal as well.

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