Francisco Sagasti became the interim president of Peru on Monday, the third ruler in charge of the country after a week of upheaval that began with the removal of Martín Vizcarra and continued with the ephemeral arrival to power of Manuel Merino until citizen pressure forced him to resign on Sunday. Sagasti, a 76-year-old industrial engineer and former head of Strategic Planning at the World Bank, came to parliament in 2016 as a candidate for Congress for the Purple Party, a center-right formation that emerged before the elections of that year with the economist Julio Guzmán as a candidate for the presidency.
After that group was excluded by the electoral authority, the National Elections Jury, on the eve of the elections, attended Congress in January of this year with the same political group as the head of the list. He did it with more than 94,000 votes. However, Sagasti is by no means a newbie to politics. The leader, who will assume this Tuesday as transitional president of Peru, founded in 1993 – together with one of the main Peruvian psychoanalysts, Max Hernández – an organization called Agenda Peru, which prepared diagnoses of the problems of his country to propose public policies on governance and development.
To that end, Sagasti and Hernández toured the country for consultations with specialists and representatives of the State and civil society. “He is a very competent professional as an engineer, economist and specialist in science and technology. He has held important positions, including that of advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when I was Chancellor, ”Allan Wagner, former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the first government of the former Aprista Party leader Alan García, told EL PAÍS. “He has had extensive academic activity and has directed projects as a consultant. On a personal level, he is affable, dialogue-oriented, seeks to generate consensus and is a specialist in group dynamics ”, adds Wagner.
Although in 2007 he was part of the moderate left-wing Social Democracy party, which he resigned, a year ago he stated in an interview that he felt he was beginning his true political career. “After more than fifty years of academic and professional life, I am entering politics for the first time to put my experience at the service of citizens,” he told the newspaper. Meter. The politician studied industrial engineering at the National Engineering University, a public college, and has a Ph.D. in Operational Research and Systems Sciences from the University of Pennsylvania. He has been a consultant to the United Nations in science and technology and until now chaired the Congressional Science and Technology Commission.
His colleague from the Purple Party bench in Parliament, Congressman Alberto de Belaúnde, highlighted Sagasti’s face as a specialist in innovation. “He is a person with firm ideas, but who at the same time knows how to listen and believes in dialogue. In these months we have heard a lot – due to the new coronavirus pandemic – the phrase ‘without science, there is no future’: to have him as president is to ensure that it is not just a phrase, but an authentic government policy, “De Belaúnde told EL COUNTRY. The psychoanalyst Max Hernández, who has known Sagasti since his student days – although the new interim president is a few years younger – points out that when Alberto Fujimori gave the self-coup in 1992, they realized that they needed to disseminate ideas about democratic governance because the country was rushing towards a loss of institutionality. “It was the moment for the dissemination of Huntington’s ideas about failed countries,” Hernández recalls in a telephone interview minutes after his friend was sworn in as the new leader of Parliament.
Sagasti will assume in a ceremony this Tuesday as transitional president until July next year, when the winner of the elections called for April 2021 takes the reins. In his first speech as the leader of Congress, he addressed the young people who protested for seven days followed against the damage to the separation of powers of the State after the dismissal of the presidency of Martín Vizcarra last Monday.
The protagonists of the massive and national wave of demonstrations that prompted the resignation of the interim government of Manuel Merino have been called “the generation of the Bicentennial.” Two of these young people died on Sunday night because of the brutal police repression of the protests in Lima. Regarding that episode, the new interim president said: “We cannot bring them back to life, but we can from Congress and the Executive take the measures so that this does not happen again.”
“We have some more or less seriously injured who are waiting to recover by demonstrating almost entirely in a peaceful manner. We have disappeared. When a Peruvian dies, and even more so if he is young, all of Peru is in mourning, and if he dies defending democracy, indignation is added to mourning, “he added, while hundreds of citizens in their twenties awaited the outcome of the vote outside Congress. “What we are seeing in the street is that outrage that we must accept and channel through peaceful paths that help us. We have seen a powerful wake-up call: the pandemic was not enough, the economic crisis or security problems were not enough. We had to wait for the death of two young people so that the enormity of the crisis we are experiencing falls on us and motivates us to work for the development of a more equitable country ”, promised Sagasti.