The president of PeruPedro Castillo, challenged his political opponents and surprised a large part of his compatriots by appointing a cabinet of ministers chaired by legislator Guido Bellido, considered part of the hard wing of the ruling Marxist-leaning Peru Libre party.
Just one day after having assumed the leadership of the State for the period 2021-2026 with a message of vindication, but also conciliatory, Castillo appointed Bellido as his chief of staff on Thursday and then took the oath of his ministers in the middle of a great controversy for his notorious leftist political profile.
The political opposition, led by the right-wing Popular Force party led by Keiko Fujimori, immediately responded that this confirms their accusations that Castillo will try to establish a “communist” government in Peru.
Among the most recognized characters to assume the positions was the vice president Dina boluarte, who was sworn in as Minister of Development and Social Inclusion, the sociologist Héctor Béjar, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the doctor Hernando Zeballos, Minister of Health.
The new chancellor is an 85-year-old lawyer and doctor of sociology, who founded the National Liberation Army in 1962, guerrilla group inspired by the Cuban revolution, which operated in the Peruvian jungle until it was defeated militarily a couple of years later.
The new Minister of Foreign Affairs of Peru, the former guerrilla Héctor Béjar, after his swearing in office, this Thursday at the Gran Teatro Nacional in Lima. Photo: EFE
Without economy minister
However, during the ceremony it was not announced to the Ministers of Economy or Justice and Human Rights.
According to local media, the economist Pedro Francke and the lawyer Julio Arbizu had been considered for these positions, but supposedly they rejected the designation due to discrepancies with the appointment of Bellido.
In addition, in this cabinet the parity quota that had been established in recent years was ended, by including only two women since, in addition to Boluarte, the sociologist Anahí Durand assumed the portfolio of Women and Vulnerable Populations.
Rejection of Guido Bellido
Hours earlier, Bellido’s appointment led to the rejection of the majority of parliamentary benches, including leftist and liberal groups, who considered that it will not generate the trust or consensus that Peru requires in the midst of the health, economic and social crisis faced by the pandemic.
This appointment caused Castillo to face a government crisis just one day after taking over the leadership of the State, having to delay by almost three hours the taking of the oath of the ministers in the middle of a wave of speculation and criticism in his country.
The situation even led to the Purple Party, which is made up of the former Peruvian president Francisco Sagasti, to demand that Congress “not give confidence to the cabinet”, considering that the prime minister is “a person who does not believe in democracy, human rights and the fight against corruption and terrorism.”
Key facts about Pedro Castillo, the new president of Peru. / AFP
Corruption and apology for terrorism
Bellido, a 41-year-old electronic engineer, is in the closest circle to Vladimir Cerrón, the founder of Peru Libre, who is serving a four-year suspended prison sentence (without going to jail) for crimes of corruption when he was governor of the central region of Junín.
The new prime minister too faces a preliminary investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office for alleged apology to terrorism, after a video was broadcast in which it was difficult for him to define members of the subversive group Sendero Luminoso as “terrorists”, an episode that set the social networks on fire with indignation.
The president of Peru, Pedro Castillo, and his defense minister, Walter Ayala (left), participate in a military parade for the national holidays in Lima, this Friday. Photo: EFE
The prime minister, who by law has 30 days to appear before Congress to request a vote of confidence in his administration, will nevertheless have a difficult task ahead of him, since his appointment was rejected by almost all benches parliamentarians Peruvian.
The toughest position was expressed by the Purple Party, which demanded that Congress “not give confidence to the cabinet”, despite the fact that it had accepted Castillo’s electoral victory and had even supported him in the face of unfounded allegations of “fraud” promoted by Keiko Fujimori, his rival in the presidential elections.
The situation was also questioned by representatives of the moderate left, such as legislator Ruth Luque, who affirmed that the ideal “would have been a person who generates trust and consensus” and said that she takes this appointment with “discrepancy.”
Legislator Alejandro Cavero, from the right-wing Avanza País party, considered that Bellido’s appointment “polarizes” his country, while the spokesman for the Alianza para el Progreso party, Eduardo Salhuana, defined it as a political error that evidences the Cerrón’s influence on Castillo.
The parliamentarian Jorge Montoya, from the ultra-right party Renovación Popular, maintained that Bellido does not meet “the requirements that the person who must assume that position must meet,” that “the issues under discussion are at two levels, ideological and technical” and that “in the ideological it does not go, definitely”.
The appointment of the new cabinet was only supported, for now, by the leftist group Nuevo Peru, led by former presidential candidate Verónika Mendoza, and ratified its “institutional” participation in the new cabinet, with the presence of Durand.