Peru’s President Pedro Castillo has been detained by police in the capital Lima, a source with knowledge of the case told CNNE, after lawmakers voted to oust Castillo on a tumultuous day for the South American nation.
Vice President Dina Boluarte is expected to be sworn in as Peru’s new president but must secure cross-party support to govern.
A majority of 101 members of Peru’s 130-member Congress voted to impeach Castillo on Wednesday afternoon, following an attempt by Castillo earlier in the day to dissolve the body and form an emergency government.
Castillo’s call for parliamentary elections to work on a new constitution led to a series of cabinet resignations, fiery responses from top officials and condemnation from regional neighbors.
Before the congressional impeachment vote, Bolluarte himself took to Twitter to criticize the plan to dissolve Castillo. “I reject Pedro Castillo’s decision to bring about the collapse of the constitutional order by shutting down Congress,” she wrote on Twitter. “It is a coup that exacerbates the political and institutional crisis that Peruvian society will have to overcome with strict adherence to the law.”
At least seven cabinet ministers resigned, including Environment Minister Wilbert Rozas, Finance Minister Kurt Burneo, Foreign Relations Minister Cesar Landa and Justice Minister Felix Chero.
Castillo’s attempt to dissolve Congress was condemned by international officials, and the United States called on the leader to “reverse” the move and “allow Peru’s democratic institutions to function according to the constitution,” U.S. Ambassador to Peru Lisa Kenna. said on Twitter.
Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs “expressed deep concern over the political crisis that the sister republic of the Republic of Peru is experiencing and calls on all political and social actors to protect democratic institutions, the rule of law and constitutional peace,” iStatement on Twitter.
The left-wing leader’s government was mired in chaos from the start, with dozens of ministers appointed, replaced, sacked or resigned in less than a year – piling further pressure on the embattled president.
Castillo, a former schoolteacher and union leader, has accused the opposition of trying to oust him since his first day in office. He accused Peru’s attorney general, Patricia Benavides, of introducing a new form of “conspiracy” against him through her office’s investigations.
In October, Benavides filed a statutory complaint against him based on three of the six investigations her office opened. The complaint allows Congress to conduct its own investigation of the president.
Castillo, who was narrowly elected in July 2021, has faced a series of investigations into whether he used his position to benefit himself, his family and close associates by lobbying for favors or preferential treatment, among other claims.
Castillo has repeatedly denied all allegations and has repeatedly reiterated his willingness to cooperate with any investigation. He contends that the charges are the result of a witch hunt against him and his family from groups that failed to recognize his election victory.
The president faces five preliminary criminal investigations on charges of planning corruption schemes while in office. This includes prosecutors alleging that he led a “criminal network” that interfered with government agencies such as the Transport and Communications Ministry, the Housing Ministry and Peru’s oil company to control public bidding processes and to benefit specific companies and close associates.
Prosecutors are also investigating whether the president tried to influence the promotion process of officers in the armed forces and the National Police.
Expanding beyond the president, the investigations also look into Castillo’s family, including his wife and sister. First Lady Lilia Paredes is being investigated on suspicion of allegedly coordinating the criminal network. Her lawyer, Benji Espinosa, has insisted on her innocence, arguing that the investigation against the first lady includes “numerous flaws and omissions.”
and her sister-in-law Yenifer Paredes are being investigated for being part of a criminal organization, money laundering and aggravated complicity. She remained in custody until a judge revoked her “preventive detention” for 30 months. She too has denied any wrongdoing.
“My daughter, my wife, my whole family have been attacked with the sole purpose of destroying me because they don’t want me to finish my term, I promise you I will finish my term, I am not corrupt,” he said. In a televised speech from the President’s House on October 20.
In the same speech, Castillo acknowledged that some of his closest associates should face justice on corruption charges, saying, “If they betrayed my trust, let justice take care of them.”