Home World Peru: Pedro Castillo’s cabinet risks its future in Congress

Peru: Pedro Castillo’s cabinet risks its future in Congress

From Lima

The first ministerial cabinet of the left-wing president Pedro Castillo, who took office a month ago, risks its future in Congress. On Thursday night, after a marathon debate to grant or deny the cabinet vote of confidence, The session in Parliament was suspended to continue this Friday. If the 130-member unicameral Congress denies him trust, Castillo would suffer a heavy defeat and have to appoint another cabinet. The ruling party has only 42 votes, it needs the support of at least one sector of the right-wing opposition. The speeches of the representatives of Fujimori and two other far-right parties, totaling 43 votes, were in the tone of their destabilizing behavior and announced a vote against the cabinet. Four benches that go from the center to the right will have the votes that tip the balance to one side or the other. In their speeches, many legislators from these groups criticized the cabinet, but they were not clear about what their vote will be, others announced that they would give it confidence and others that they would deny it. If the cabinet vote of confidence is denied, it would be the first time that this has happened in the beginning of a government.

The vote of confidence in the cabinet was reached amid a strong campaign by the right wing and the hegemonic press demanding changes of ministers, pressing for the departure of the president of the Council of Ministers, the ruling congressman Guido Bellido, considered to be part of the most left wing of the government. A few days ago, yielding to pressure from the right, the government changed the chancellor, former guerrilla fighter and sociologist Héctor Béjar, but the opposition demands more changes of ministers. The right wing that lost the elections is trying to impose the ministers on the government. There is an extreme right, with Fujimori at the head, that goes further and conspires to remove the president.

In quechua

While the parliamentary session was going on, around the Congress there were mobilizations for and against the government. Before going to Congress, the ministers met at the Government Palace with President Castillo. Of Andean origin, Bellido began speaking before the parliamentary representation in Quechua. Shouts of protest were heard from the seats of the opposition. With that gesture, Bellido began speaking in his native language to the Andean electoral bases of President Castillo, and highlighted the disconnection of the political class, which protested because the chief of the cabinet spoke in Quechua, with those native populations. After several minutes of confusion among the majority of congressmen, the president of the Legislative Assembly, María del Carmen Alva, of the center-right Popular Action party, asked Bellido to speak in Spanish because the legislators did not understand him. The chief of the cabinet did so and spoke of the marginalization of the millions of Peruvians in the Andes who speak Quechua and of all indigenous peoples.

Bellido exhibited for almost three hours. He announced a series of projects and goals for each sector. Conciliator, he said the government wanted to build bridges with the opposition-controlled Congress and called for the vote of confidence as “a vote for reconciliation.” “Today I have not only come to the hemicycle to request a vote of confidence, but I am here to invite you to put down our differences and together contribute to solving one of the most serious political, social, environmental and health crises of the last decades ”, He pointed out, before a majority opposition parliamentary representation, and largely hostile to the government. His message was focused on the need for changes and public policies in favor of the most excluded sectors.

As Castillo has already done, the chief of the cabinet placed emphasis on offering to prioritize issues such as education and health, and announced the increase in the budget for these two sectors, underfunded and abandoned during different governments. He recalled that 30 percent of Peruvians, that is, more than nine million people, survive in poverty, and 74 percent of the economically active population works informally with low income and without labor rights. He highlighted the will of the government to close the great economic and social gaps, which he described as “a tragedy caused by the political class for defending its interests.” He offered to collect the demands of the labor sectors. He ratified that taxes on extractive companies, which now have significant surpluses due to the increase in international mineral prices, will be increased.

Accused by the right wing of having sympathy with heirs of the Maoist armed group Sendero Luminoso, defeated more than two decades ago, Bellido assured that the government will initiate “a frontal fight against terrorism and drug trafficking.”. From Sendero there is only one armed column in a rugged mountainous area, which years ago broke with the defeated original trek and now acts in alliance with the drug traffickers that operates in that region, but the right continues to use that ghost to scare, promote policies authoritarian and seek to discredit the left as a whole by linking it to hiking. That is what it has been doing to try to weaken the Castillo government. Several legislators repeated the accusations of the campaign against Bellido and other ministers of having supposed closeness to those Senderista lags.

Bellido did not mention the issue of calling a Constituent Assembly to change the neoliberal Constitution that comes from the Fujimori dictatorship, President Castillo’s main campaign flag. It was the great absence of his message, which has been interpreted as an attempt to lower tensions with an opposition majority that opposes the change of the Constitution.

In the Peruvian political system, in crisis for years, Congress has the right to censor ministers and every ministerial cabinet upon being appointed is obliged to ask the Legislature for a vote of confidence to be ratified.. As a counterweight, the president is empowered to dissolve Congress and call new legislative elections if the trust of two cabinets is denied, a possibility that would motivate several government critics to give the cabinet a vote of confidence so as not to be so soon on the brink of its dissolution. In this complicated balance of powers, the legislature can remove the head of state, even appealing to an ambiguous cause of “moral incapacity” that can be applied in summary process with two-thirds of the votes. The extreme right banks seek the removal of President Castillo through that route and conspire to add support and get the votes they need. The rejection of the vote of confidence in the cabinet would reinforce these coup sectors.

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