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After Castillo, Boluarte asks time and space to heal Peru



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LIMA, Peru — At her abrupt inauguration as Peru’s seventh president in years, Dina Boluarte called for an end to the relentless political war that has undermined the country’s ability to govern. the country for most of the past decade.

Repeated clashes between successive governments and groups of lawmakers have facilitated a host of serious social problems — widespread hunger, the world’s deadliest covid-19 outbreak per capita, systemic corruption at all levels of government — out of control.

The infighting within a political class considered by many to be corrupt criminals has alienated ordinary Peruvians to the point of half no longer “support” democracy — the third lowest in Latin America, behind only extremely violent Honduras and long-besieged Haiti.

Boluarte succeeds his former left-wing ally, Pedro Castillo, who was impeached and arrested Wednesday after he tried to shut down parliament and rule by decree to avoid being ousted for corruption. .

Peruvian president impeached, arrested after trying to dissolve parliament

Peru’s first female president after 200 years of independence said she would appoint a wide-ranging “government of national unity”. She sought to distance herself from what she called Castillo’s “shameful theft” and called for a “political truce”.

“What I am asking for is some time, precious time, to rescue the country from corruption and weak government,” she pleaded before a congress that had just fired Castillo with 101 votes to 6. .

However, whether Boluarte, also of Castillo’s Marxist-Leninist Peruvian Liberal party, will get a tough and deeply conservative congress for breathing space remains unclear.

It will depend largely on how skillfully she handles the enormous challenge of getting Peru back on track, but also on the extent to which legislators intend to roll out five-year terms of office. their own, until July 2026. If Boluarte is removed, the constitution will require new elections.

Crucially, she was expelled from Free Peru in January after falling out with its polarizing leader, Vladimir Cerrón, and will have to quickly build a legislative coalition to survive. That could mean focusing on the center.

The youngest of 14 children from a remote community in the mountains south of Apurímac, Boluarte, 60, studied law in Lima, later managing an office there of Reniec, the agency Peruvian public register of births, deaths and marriages. Arguably the most notable period of her career was an incident where she reported verbal abuse of a transgender woman who is trying to change his official gender.

As vice president, she managed to avoid getting caught up in Castillo’s endless spiral of bribery scandals; She has grown increasingly distant from him in recent months. This is her first elected office, however, and it’s unclear if she’ll fulfill her enormous new responsibility better than Castillo, a freshman currently in pre-trial detention. , was accused of “sedition” and “rebellion”.

Carlos Anderson, a centrist lawmaker who led the Castillo removal charge, predicted: “She should benefit from the doubt. “Most members of parliament want to continue their jobs for the next four years.”

But he also warned that the new president would need to appoint a cabinet friendly to Peru’s business community, shunned by Castillo’s far-left views, including threats to nationalize the country. economy, while also meeting the needs of poor Peruvians, whom Castillo proclaimed he would represent but was largely ignored when he took office.

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Failing to do so could pave the way for far more radical populists than Castillo. If an election were held now, polls have shown, Antauro Humala, the radical brother of former centre-left president Ollanta Humala, will command 12 percent of the vote. Given Peru’s divided political landscape, with more than a dozen parties, that could push him into the presidential race – Castillo needed 19 percent less to win the first round of last year’s election; Keiko Fujimori made it to the second round with less than 14 percent.

A former army major, Antauro Humala, 59, has just been released from prison after leading a military uprising in 2005 against the elected government of Alejandro Toledo in which two police officers were murdered. .

He espouses an ideology known as “etnocacerismo”, which asserts the racial superiority of the Andeans. Its supporters claim to be leftists, but many consider them fascists. Humala called for the immediate execution of corrupt officials; he has repeatedly included his brother, who served as president from 2011 to 2016, on that list.

Boluarte’s government “can’t just be a neo-liberal government,” Anderson said. “There are a lot of Peruvians in the interior who are rightly asking why 30 years of growth didn’t do them any good. They are the people who voted for Castillo and are now feeling lost. We have to avoid letting them turn to Antauro.”

José Alejandro Godoy, a political scientist at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, is less optimistic. Boluarte has yet to demonstrate the skills needed to stay in the presidency, let alone turn his impressive rise into a success story, he said.

She faces pressure to get quick results in cleaning up the state agencies that have collapsed during Castillo’s 17 months in power when he appoints an army of unqualified candidates. and morally challenged into the public service.

‘The whole world eats well and we don’t’

Notable challenges include restoring the national passport agency and helping Peru’s desperate smallholder farmers.

Getting a Peruvian passport used to be a simple process that took only a few hours. Over the past year, it has turned into an adventure that can last months — unless the applicant pays a bribe.

The government has repeatedly failed to replace the half a million tons of fertilizer normally imported each year from Ukraine and Russia, resulting in reduced yields and worsening food insecurity.

“A lot will depend on who she appoints as her prime minister,” Godoy said. “But Boluarte can’t get in the back. The job of a president requires frequent public appearances, especially outside of Lima, where people will look forward to meeting her in person and letting her listen to their needs.”

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