Pedro Castillo took office this Wednesday (28) as president of Peru for the period 2021-2026 after taking an oath before Congress and receiving the symbolic ribbon.
Wearing his traditional wide-brimmed straw hat and a suit with indigenous motifs, Castillo was sworn in by Congress President María del Carmen Alva.
“I swear by God, by my family, by my Peruvian sisters and brothers, peasants, native peoples, neighbours, fishermen, teachers, professionals, children, young people and women, that I will hold the position of President of the Republic in the period 2021-2016. I swear on the people of Peru, on a country free of corruption and on a new constitution,” he said.
The ceremony, simple, was attended by all representatives of the powers of the state, as well as close family members of the president.
Also present were guests such as the king of Spain, Felipe VI, and the presidents of Argentina, Alberto Fernández; Bolivia, Luis Arce; Chile, Sebastián Piñera; Colombia, Ivan Duque; and Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso. For Brazil, the representative was Vice President Hamilton Mourão.
Castillo assumes the presidency at a critical moment for Peru, which is suffering the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and is experiencing a deep political polarization.
The 51-year-old rural teacher assumes command of the country with the highest per capita mortality per Covid-19 and whose economy struggles to recover after the 11.8% retraction in 2020.
Castillo’s election victory came as a surprise to many Peruvians who believed in the victory of right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori.
Peru, which is also celebrating 200 years of independence, has for the first time in Castillo a head of state from the Andean countryside, who does not come from its political elites and centers of power.
During the campaign, he was emphatic in pointing out the need for the State to intervene more in the economy and insisted on promoting the creation of a Constituent Assembly to create a new Magna Carta, proposals that generated controversy.
He reiterated this commitment in his inaugural address, and added the need to work for greater security within the country, which suffers from “gangs and street robberies”.
Castillo also proposed that “foreign criminals will have 72 hours to leave Peru and young people who neither study nor work will have to go into military service.”
After a highly disputed and divisive election, the new president reiterated the need to unite the country: “It is time to rebuild the great national unity […] May the direction of progress and social justice be for all Peruvians!” he concluded.
Castillo also takes office with the certainty that he will not have an easy relationship with his opponents, who since the night of June 6 – when he defeated right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori in the second round – have begun to sow doubts about the legitimacy of his victory.
For weeks, Keiko denounced the existence of an alleged “fraud” at the ballot boxes committed by Castillo and his party, Free Peru, but without concrete evidence.
However, election specialists from the European Union (EU) were in the country and attested that the elections were “reliable and fair and in accordance with national and international commitments and obligations that govern democratic processes”.
Apart from that, the new president will have to deal with opposition from the national Congress, whose leadership will be exercised by the center parliamentarian María del Carmen Alva, who was strongly supported by the Keiko Fujimori party. No party holds a majority in the Legislature, which poses a challenge to Castillo in advancing the reforms he intends to implement.