The Peruvian right is already maneuvering to remove Pedro Castillo

From Lima

The rural teacher Pedro Castillo has been in office for less than two weeks and the right wing is already maneuvering to remove him from the presidency. Fujimori parliamentarians and other far-right groups, such as the fascist Popular Renovation party, have declared an open war on the recently inaugurated left-wing government of the trade unionist Castillo. They conspire for an impeachment of the president resorting to the ambiguous figure of “moral incapacity”, which gives to depose him with no other argument than the force of the votes. Now they do not have two thirds of the 130-seat unicameral Parliament to remove the president, but they seek to generate a crisis scenario that allows them to join other right and center-right groups to get the votes they need. The hegemonic media give enthusiastic coverage to those who promote a parliamentary coup. Initial mistakes of the government, such as some questioned appointments, have given arms to that coup right.


Castillo has opened a flank by appointing as president of the Council of Ministers the congressman of the ruling Peru Libre, Guido Bellido, questioned by the right, but also by government allies. Bellido is a figure who confronts and distances possible agreements that allow the government to expand its base of support. On the contrary, it has alienated early allies. He has had homophobic and sexist statements, so his appointment has not gone down well with the president’s progressive allies. In the face of criticism, he has claimed to have changed his mind on these issues and in a statement he promised to support gender equality policies and rights for sexual minorities.

The right-wing shoots at Bellido for other reasons, and with other intentions. With that McCarthyite language that he exhibited in the campaign, and that now dominates the media, accuses him of being a terrorist, for an investigation that the prosecution has initiated for alleged apology to terrorism – a questioned legal figure that condemns opinions and lends itself to abuse – for statements considered by his accusers as “condescending” with the defeated Maoist Shining Path armed group more than two decades ago. It is a common practice of the Peruvian right to designate as terrorists those who identify with the left in order to seek to disqualify them. They launch the same accusation against other members of the cabinet. Ya is asked to declare the “moral incapacity” of the president and dismiss him for having appointed as ministers alleged “sympathizers of terrorism.” That is the coup strategy.

No honeymoon

“It has been a beginning of the government without the honeymoon that is customary to give to the new governments. As soon as he came to power, Castillo is not letting himself breathe. The right wing and the powers that be, especially the mainstream press, do not accept Castillo’s electoral victory, do not recognize him as president, and have formed a coalition to vacate him (remove him from office). The right does not want to lose the government, which has always had it. And there are government service errors, such as appointing Bellido. The situation is complicated, difficult ”, he pointed out to PageI12 the sociologist Sinesio López, professor of political science at the universities of San Marcos and Católica.

Bellido is very close to the founder and secretary general of Peru Libre, Vladimir Cerrón, a Marxist-Leninist who has attacked Castillo’s center-left ally. Cerrón, who has a corruption sentence for a past term as governor, is a complicating factor for the government. It is a target against which the right fires to hit Castillo. The president moves between the pressure of Cerrón to accumulate power and his progressive allies outside of Peru Libre. The ministerial cabinet is an expression of these internal tensions.

“Bellido and Cerrón represent a strategy to confront and to go to the shock, when the correlation of forces in Congress is not favorable for the government. This frontal attack strategy, which involves very radical measures and entering the coup, is wrong. This strategy is opposed by one of making great changes on the basis of forming a great collective will, a great coalition based on certain consensuses. This is one of the most conservative countries in Latin America and it is very difficult for the left alone to govern, it has to build alliances and have an opening towards the center, but from the left towards the center, not the other way around, which gives it a special tone. The government must change Bellido and put in his place someone from the center-left to summon sectors of the center, form a cabinet that opens the possibility of expanding the governing coalition, which would weaken the coalition to remove Castillo. With Cerrón and Bellido, that opening is cut from the left to the center and bet on a radical left. That leads to isolation and defeat, “says López. “Castillo has no political experience, but he is smart and I think he will end up relocating well. I hope I have the time to do it ”, he adds.

The complicity of the big media

Bellido must ask the Congress, dominated by various right-wing groups, a vote of confidence for the cabinet he heads. If they deny you, you must resign. Most legislators do not want it, but if they deny trust to two cabinets, the president is empowered to dissolve Parliament and call new legislative elections. The right wing fears that, if they remove Bellido, Castillo could replace him with someone who generates a strong rejection to force a second refusal to the cabinet vote of confidence and thus be able to dissolve Congress. Therefore, they could give Bellido confidence, but operate to boycott the government and seek its downfall. The boycott, destabilization and coup are what the extreme right is betting on, with the complicity of the big media.

Of the 87 votes that the parliamentary coup requires to remove the president, they would have 43; There are another 36 out of three right-wing groups that oppose the government and that demand the change of the ministerial cabinet, but that, at least for now, have not joined the open coup; and there are nine other parliamentarians from the center and the center-right who supported Castillo, but have now walked away from the government for disagreeing with the cabinet. The coup hopes to add all those votes to overthrow the government. The ruling party has only 42 seats, 37 from Peru Libre and five from its left allies from Together for Peru.

Beyond legitimate criticism against Bellido and some other members of the cabinet, for the right wing that is seeking Castillo’s removal from office that is an excuse to attack the president. Today’s coup plotters are the same ones who did not recognize the electoral victory of the Andean professor and tried to prevent his coming to power by alleging a non-existent electoral fraud. They could not prevent him from assuming the presidency, now they seek to remove him from power. Screaming “no to communism”, the coup right is mobilized in the streets. They are not massive marches, but they are with great coverage in the media.

Castillo has become a popular leader who has collected and who expresses hopes for change and inclusion. The historically marginalized, dispossessed sectors have identified with the rural and Andean teacher, whom they see as one of them, and have found in him that representation that they have never had. That is Castillo’s main strength to confront the coup intentions.

“Castillo’s power is in the mobilized citizens. He has to tell the population ‘they won’t let me govern’ and mobilize them. If he mobilizes the countryside, the provinces, the popular neighborhoods of Lima, then he can stop the intention to dismiss him. For that, he has to correct the mistake in the formation of the cabinet, change Bellido ”, indicates Sinesio López.


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