Peru: a minister from Castillo fell for a party

From Lima

A party brought down the Minister of the Interior. The head of that portfolio, Luis Barranzuela, was forced to resign after it was revealed that on Sunday, October 31, he organized a party at his house despite a ban on holding meetings due to the pandemic. He did not complete a month in office. Lawyer and former police major, Barranzuela was the most criticized minister in the cabinet. Questioned about his past as a policeman and his clients as a lawyer, he ended up falling for a noisy night of partying at his home. The illegal Barranzuela party sparked a scandal that engulfed the government, but its outcome takes a burden off the Executive with the departure of a highly criticized minister who had become a problem for the government of Pedro Castillo. At the time of sending this note, the new Interior Minister had not been appointed.

Washers and traffickers

Barranzuela spent 27 years in the police force, during which time he accumulated 158 penalties for abandonment of office, disobedience and other offenses, and was only able to rise to the position of major. After leaving the police, he worked as a lawyer. When he was appointed as minister, he had among his clients the secretary general of the ruling party Free Peru (PL), Vladimir Cerrón, and other party leaders accused of money laundering. He was questioned about a conflict of interest when he became the chief of the police who has been investigating his recent clients as a lawyer. Barranzuela was also a lawyer for arms dealers that operated in the dictatorship of Alberto Fujimori hand in hand with Vladimir Montesinos, the so-called “black monk” of the Fujimori regime. The parliamentary right and the media exploited to the maximum the questioned figure of Barranzuela to attack the government.

In Peru, on October 31, in addition to celebrating Halloween, the day of the Creole song is also celebrated. With the November 1 holiday, it is a traditional night of parties. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic – the contagion and death figures are at their lowest level, but a third wave is feared – the government banned all meetings on that date, in public places and houses. But Barranzuela, the head of the ministry that had drawn up that rule, decided not to comply with it and celebrate the same. His neighbors, annoyed with the Creole music blaring out of the house of the minister and the crowded celebration in the middle of the prohibition of parties that forced them to stay at home, they decided to report what was happening.

“It is not a party”

Alerted, a television channel arrived at the minister’s house. From the street they recorded the noise of the party and recorded the guests arriving. Put in evidence, the minister attempted an implausible defense: “It’s not a party, it’s a work meeting,” he managed to say. “Peru can not stop,” he added, trying to give a turn of labor sacrifice for the country to what was a festive private celebration. That response sank the minister further. The head of the ministerial cabinet, Mirtha Vasquez, he publicly asked Barranzuela for explanations. After receiving them, the prime minister wrote a Twitt in which she described those explanations, in which the still minister repeated the argument of the working meeting, as “unacceptable.” Vásquez met with Castillo and the minister’s departure was decided.

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Before leaving, Barranzuela left a heavy inheritance. In the midst of the scandal of the famous party, a regulation was published, signed by Barranzuela and the Minister of Defense, in which the armed forces are required to take to the streets to support the police in the fight against crime. It is a concession to the right that, although it may have a level of popularity in the midst of citizen insecurity, puts the population at risk with this militarization and is far from solving the problem of crime. The Castillo government owes an explanation for this measure, and a prompt rectification.

Confidence

This ministerial crisis in the second cabinet of President Castillo occurs on the eve that the Congress, with an opposition majority, defines this Thursday the vote of confidence to the cabinet. If denied, the cabinet would have to resign. Fujimori and two other ultra-right banks, which operate to destabilize the government by seeking to deliver a parliamentary coup, would deny the vote of confidence. They add 43 votes out of 130. The ruling party would not have all the 37 votes of the PL bench after a sector headed by its secretary general broke with the government after he was removed from office in October. Guido Bellido, a party leader and a close ally of Cerrón. It is estimated that around a dozen of PL lawmakers would not trust the cabinet, which they say they question for being “moderate.” With this position they would end up playing in favor of the extreme right that maneuvers against the government. Reliable votes are considered to be those of more than twenty PL, the five of the progressive coalition Together for Peru, allied with the government, and nine from a center-right bench. It is key what two benches of the so-called moderate right decide –Popular Action and Alliance for Progress– that add up to 31 votes. In some cases they have voted with the ultra-right, in others they have distanced themselves from extremism. His spokesmen had announced that they would deny the trust if Barranzuela remained in the cabinet. The departure of the Minister of the Interior, who had already been highly questioned before the party scandal, plays in favor of the cabinet to obtain a vote of confidence in Congress.

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