The Peruvian president, the leftist Pedro Castillo, defended his management this Thursday in a message to the country when completing his first year of government surrounded by five investigations for alleged corruptionwhich he attributed to a media campaign to remove him.
“They claim the vacancy (removal) not for lack of results or for non-existent accusations, but for private interests and for avoiding the changes that my government is determined to carry out,” Castillo told Congress, dominated by the right-wing opposition.
“The media spread lies and fake newsThey are going to get tired of looking for the evidence because they are not going to find it,” added the president.
“I submit to justice to clarify the crimes that they intend to impute to me, to clarify the processes before the justice”, he stressed during his message on the state of the Nation, in which he dedicated several passages to rejecting the complaints against him.
“Imputations That Will Not Prove”defiantly reiterated Castillo, in the midst of the repudiation of some congressmen.
The opposition in Parliament demanded the resignation of Pedro Castillo. Reuters photo
Castillo, a 52-year-old rural teacher, trade unionist, is serving the first of his five-year term with a record of five tax investigations for alleged corruption and the persistent siege of an adverse Congress that demands his resignation.
The recent decision of the nation’s prosecutor, Patricia Benavides, to open a new investigation for “obstruction of justice” by protecting three members of his environment who are fugitives, he has fueled the embers for a third impeachment request in 12 months.
Of the five investigations, four are for cases that occurred in his government.
The causes contemplate an alleged influence peddling in the purchase of fuel by the state-owned Petroperú in 2021 and the alleged obstruction of justice in the dismissal of an Interior Minister.
He is also accused of influence peddling in a file of military promotions; of corruption and aggravated collusion in a public works project; and, finally, plagiarism in his university thesis.
The president vehemently denies all the accusations.
Supporters of President Pedro Castillo demand the closure of Congress. AP Photo
The prosecutor’s office, which is autonomous and promotes the mega-investigation of the Odebrecht case that affected four other Peruvian presidents, considers that there are indications that Castillo heads “a criminal organization” that involves his political and family environment.
However, he cannot take it to court as he has immunity until the end of his term in 2026.
On Tuesday, Castillo’s former secretary, Bruno Pacheco, wanted on corruption charges, surrendered to the authorities in another blow to the image of the president.
The tension loomed during various passages of the message, such as when twenty of the 130 congressmen withdrew in protest and another group turned their back on him sitting from his seat.
“Corrupt!” Conservative legislator Patricia Chirinos exclaimed loudly in the chamber, interrupting Castillo.
The ruler closed his message, which coincides with Peru’s national day, amid abrupt shouting calling for his resignation.
“Resign corrupt, be corrupt!”was the phrase that resounded from the bench of the Fujimori party.
“Fujimori never again!” replied the minority bench of the leftist coalition that supports Castillo.
Meanwhile, outside of Congress, Hundreds of demonstrators marched demanding his resignation.
“We are marching because we are against this corrupt regime. There is nothing to celebrate,” Rodolfo Fernández, of the Dignity and Freedom Social Collective, told AFP.
In parallel, a less nourished mobilization of collectives and unions he marched in support of the president also to Congress.
Castillo unexpectedly won the elections at the head of a small Marxist-Leninist party with 50.12% of the vote, in a close runoff against right-wing Keiko Fujimori, daughter of former president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000).
The current scenario evokes the fate of former presidents Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and Martín Vizcarra, who survived a first impeachment motion, but not to a second in 2018 and 2020 respectivelyamid clashes with Congress and allegations of corruption.
Castle has survived two impeachment attempts “due to moral incacity” in Congress, dissatisfied since the beginning of his mandate that he won with fraud.
For now, Castillo has weathered the storm aided by the corruption and fragmentation of the 130-member Congress, which lacks the 87 votes needed to remove him from office.