Rapid Fall from Power, Arrest for Embattled Peru President

By Franklin Briceño and Christopher Sherman

"[Pedro Castillo] became embroiled in intrigues, corruption and battles with Congress," said AS/COA's Eric Farnsworth to the Associated Press.

In just three tumultuous hours, President Pedro Castillo went from decreeing the dissolution of Peru’s Congress to being replaced by his vice president, but the threats against his government had been building throughout his nearly 17-month presidency.

The former school teacher and center-left political novice, who won a runoff election in June 2021 by just 44,000 votes, stepped onto a no-holds-barred political battlefield in Peru, the South American country now on its sixth president in six years. By nightfall Wednesday, after a day of high political drama, prosecutors had announced Castillo was under arrest, facing charges of rebellion. […]

“He didn’t unify the country,” said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas. “He doesn’t even seem to make much of an effort along those lines.”

“He didn’t have much of a mandate, and so he did not promote policies somehow that were easily identifiable as for the good of the majority of the people,” Farnsworth said. “Instead, he became embroiled in intrigues, corruption and battles with Congress.”…

But Boluarte also takes office with a weak mandate and no party.

“She has to begin to govern in a way that outreaches to political opponents and also seeks to unify a coalition of supporters,” said Farnsworth of the Council of the Americas. “In order to have a working government, you have to have a coalition big enough to advance policies and legislators behind you.”

Hanging over the early days of her administration will be the question of what to do with Castillo. Prosecutors vowed to investigate the ex-president for allegedly rebelling against Peru’s constitutional order.

In the streets, despite the tumult, only small-scale clashes erupted between protesters and riot police — outside a police station where Castillo was taken.

Farnsworth wondered whether Castillo would be put on trial or allowed to seek asylum in another country.

“What do the Peruvian people want? Will they go to the streets and protest and riot or will they give things a chance to calm down and return to some kind of normalcy?” he said. “So I don’t know what’s going to happen in the immediate term, but there are some big questions about this.”…

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