Government, Economics, and Political News

President, Council of Ministers Meet in Cusco to Address Issues

22 April – On Friday President Castillo, the president of the Council of Ministers, Anibal Torres, ministers of State met with regional governor, provincial mayors and representatives of various organizations with the the intention of listening to the demands of the population and provide solutions to various social problems afflicting the region.

During the “Sixth Decentralized Council of Ministers” meetings in Cusco today, President Pedro Castillo announced that they will ask the Congress to approve a bill that the Executive will soon present to Congress allowing a referendum vote on whether to create a “Constituent Assembly” to create a new Constitution. This vote would be held during October’s regional and local elections.

“We will submit a bill to the Congress of the Republic, following the Constitutional course so that, in the municipal and regional elections, the Congress approves that through a ballot the Peruvian people be consulted on whether or not they agree with the new Constitution”, said Castillo.

The push for a new Constitution, a major source on controversy in Peru that was an important part of Castillo’s populist campaign supported strongly by the leaders of his far-left political party, Peru Libre, received immediate criticism from those who see it as a way for the radical leadership of his party to seize more power and strengthen their agenda rather than deal with the issues affected Peru.

The president of Congress, Maria Carmen del Alva, rejected the notion saying that “there is not a single opinion poll where the Constituent Assembly is a priority for Peruvians” and that the priorities should be working for issues that directly affect Peruvians including unemployment and corruption.

Other leaders noted that there are clear questions of the constitutionality of Castillo’s proposal and if he is only raising false expectations as another populist diversion among the populace.

The National Jury of Elections (JNE) has already specified that any call to reform the Political Constitution cannot be made directly, but must be previously approved by the Congress, with an absolute majority. This was established by Law 31399 approved by the Parliament and published on January 30, which modified articles 40 and 44 of the Law on the Rights of Citizen Participation and Control (Law No. 26300).

The call for a referendum to reform the Constitution cannot proceed if it is not processed according to the procedure defined in the first paragraph of article 206 of the Constitution.

Even Castillo has admitted that only Congress has the power to approve such a referendum.

At meetings between Torres and local leaders earlier in the week during the 48-hour strike which effectively locked down the Cusco region, the Prime Minister officially agreed to set up “dialogue tables” where specific issues of concern would be addressed in the coming days.

Leaders of regional associations had said that if concrete actions were not seen today, then a new indefinite strlke would be called for Monday, but Cusco Post is reporting that that strike has been averted.

As established by ministerial resolution 123-2022-PCM, these technical dialogue tables will seek to contribute to identify possible solutions to social, agrarian, tourism, mining, as well as educational and health problems, with a view to evaluate the points raised by the different civil organizations of Cusco and establish a work plan.

Working group number 1 will address the issues of agrarian development and irrigation, under the responsibility of the sector’s minister. Working group 2 will address the problems of the economy and investments, with the participation of the Presidency of Council of Ministers (PCM) and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MTC). This roundtable also includes a group that will address the demands regarding mining and hydrocarbons, with the Energy and Mines sector.

Round table number 3 will deal with social development issues and will be involve the Minister of Women’s Affairs. Within this group are included the education roundtables led by the Minedu (Ministry of Eduction) Dialogue Office, as well as the health roundtable led by Pronis (National Health Investment Program) and Minsa (Ministry of Health).

Council of Minister Meets and Ignores Major Issues in Peru

21 April – Yesterday Peru’s Council of Ministers met and made several new announcements including a removal of the requirement for outdoor mask use in five regions.

They also announced the approval of a proposed law requiring chemical castration for those convicted of the raping of minors and the return of school classrooms back to 100%.

Apparently the leaders of the Castillo administration ignored all the major issues that are affecting Peru right now. Cusco just came out of a devastating 48-hour strike on Monday and Tuesday and have threatened to initiate another strike on Monday — the time an indefinite one — if the administration fails to provide any “concrete” actions on their demands which mirror demands being made all across the country.

Those demands include the lowering of prices in basic food goods and implementation of the promised Second Agrarian Reform which was a major campaign promise of Castillo that has been completely ignored so far.

Fifth Cabinet of Ministers Coming Soon?

19 April – Reports are still coming out that a fifth cabinet of ministers in President Castillo’s administration will be announced in the coming days. The latest indicates that the new Prime Minister will be more of a centrist and will come from outside Castillo’s party, Peru Libre.

Castillo has only been in office less than nine months and another restructuring would be unprecedented, but complaints of government incompetence are reaching a fever pitch.

The current Prime Minister, Anibal Torres, has not helped the situation thanks to his apparent inability to affect any real solutions to a number of serious crises across the country while at the same time making extremely controversial comments that seem to be coming out of nowhere.

Yesterday, during a meeting with representatives of Cusco’s striking associations, Torres was reported across the media as saying that “”There is much to learn from Karl Marx as from the ultraliberals…We have to learn the good things.”

Torres continued by denying that the current administration is Communist while seemingly defending Communism.

Back on April 7 Torres made comments praising Adolf Hitler for his road-building initiatives and for turning Germany into “the first economic power in the world” while failing to mention the Holocaust or starting World War II.

Yesterday in Cusco he somehow felt it necessary to insert an attack on the press arguing that he was misinterpreted as a product of the “ignorance” of the press instead of focusing on the strike which has virtually shit down the country’s most important tourist region.

Congress Approves Law Eliminating Tax on Some Basic Food Items

13 April – The Peruvian Congress, by a vote of 95-10, approved the removal of the IGV tax on chicken, sugar, eggs, noodles and bread. This updated a recently pass law which included many non-necessities and did not include bread. The regulation will be in force for three months from May 1 to July 31, 2022 and will be subject to evaluation. Indecopi will be in charge of monitoring sales prices to the final consumer.

Castillo Approval Drops to Record Low

11 April – A new Ipsos survey released last night shows that President Pedro Castillo is approved by only 19% of the population across Peru. This disapproval rating has dropped ten points from last month when 66% of the country did not support his administration.

In the interior of the country where he received most of his electoral support last year, only 24% support his administration. In Lima, Castillo only has a 9% approval while 88% of those surveyed disapprove of his administration.

At regional level, the south continues to be the area with the highest support for the president at 37%. In the north of Peru, 16% support him, while in the center and the east, acceptance reaches 21% and 24%, respectively.

The survey conducted by Ipsos for América TV included 1205 people over 18 years of age from all socioeconomic levels in the urban-rural area of the country on April 7, 2022. It has a margin of error of +/- 2.8% and a confidence level of 95%.

Newly Sworn In Minister of Health Faces Possible Congressional Censure

11 April – Just days after being sworn in as the new Minister of Health, Jorge Lopez, said he is not afraid of a possible motion of censure against him in Congress, due to the questions that have arisen after his appointment to the position.

According to the newspaper Perú.21, in February 2021 Lopez was sanctioned with three months without pay for having made “false” statements about an alleged lack of supplies for the medical staff attending COVID-19 cases. Also, according to the Anti-Corruption Private Council (CPA), Jorge López has an open investigation at the Junín Prosecutor’s Office for alleged crimes against public tranquility and false statement to the detriment of third parties.

It has ben reported that he is closely tied to the leader of Peru Libre, Vladimir Cerrón, who is being investigated for the alleged crime of affiliation to a terrorist organization to the detriment of the State (Sendero Luminoso).

Datum Poll on Peruvians and the Economy

In a new Datum poll conducted with Peru 21, 74% of Peruvians say that political decisions by the government have a negative impact on the economy while 17% say there is a positive impact, with 4% saying that they have no impact at all and 5% do not know.

Regarding prices of basic necessities, 96% consider that these have continued to rise, 2% say that they have remained the same, barely 1% say that they have gone down, and 1% do not know.

Over two-thirds of those polled (68%) said they were afraid of losing their jobs compared to only 21% who were not concerned.

Only 16% of the respondents said that their income covers their current financial responsibilities without any difficulty. A much larger number (45%) said that their income does not cover all expenses resulting in the need to borrow with 36% saying simply that their income was insufficient to pay for all their expenses.

The survey was conducted by Datum International April 2-4 at the national level among men and women between 18 and 70 years of age, belonging to all socioeconomic levels. The sample size was 1121 people, with a margin of error of 2.9%.

Regional Governors Ask for Major Cabinet Changes

9 April – The The National Assembly of Regional Governments (ANGR) called for the recomposition of the Ministerial Cabinet including the removal of Prime Minister Aníbal Torres. Juan Paul Benavente, president of this association and regional governor of Cusco, said that the Board of Directors has established a deadline for President Pedro Castillo to make the necessary changes by April 21.

“If these conditions that we are asking both the Executive and the Congress are not met,” said Benavente, “then we will request a step aside. We believe that we have to give ourselves a deadline, we have to think a little bit further, until April 20 or 21, when we are going to meet in the region of Ica. It is enough time for a Cabinet reshuffle.”

There were reports this past week that Torres and up to seven other ministers had submitted their resignations, but Torres quickly said that was not true.

Vladimir Cerrón, Leader of Peru Libre, Calls for Control of the Media

9 AprilRPP Noticias is reporting this morning that Vladimir Cerrón, leader of Peru Libre (the party of President Pedro Castillo and the largest faction in Congress), during an activity of Peru Libre called the “Third political school” last March 22, asked the militants that they should “counteract” the work of the press, mainly the messages that are not related to the interests of the government party.

“More than anything today,” he is quoted as saying, “the political struggle is no longer in these meetings. It is no longer in the plazas. The political struggle, comrades, is communicational. It is to invade every communication channel, to counteract and block every communication channel contrary to our interests, as they also do.”

RPP also reports that Cerrón spoke of “counteracting” the messages transmitted through the media that are contrary to the interests they pursue as a political party while noting that the ideology of Peru Libre mentions the control of the media as in Nicaragua, Venezuela or Cuba.

On Friday the Prosecutor’s Office requested that the Judiciary impose a summons with restrictions on the general secretary of Peru Libre, Vladimir Cerron, for an alleged link with remnants of the terrorist organization Shining Path in the VRAEM area. This was requested by the prosecutor specialized in the fight against terrorism, Eneida Aguilar, who has initiated an investigation to the leader of the Government party for this case.

The request also includes congressmen Guido Bellido who briefly served as Presidnt Castillo’s first apointed Prime Minister but was forced out due to massive criticisms across the country about links to far right socialist policies and government as well as Guillermo Bermejo, who are also in this preparatory investigation.

The prosecutor also requested 18 months of preventive imprisonment for Ana María Córdoba Capucho in her then condition of legal representative of Perú Libre, as well as for Jhon Benítez Tangoa, Néstor Orlando Viera Fiestas, Jaime Lobatón Huilca and Francisco Jara Aguirre, attributing to them the alleged crime of obstruction to the investigation for terrorism in this case.

Another Protest Strike Planned for the Cusco region on April 17-18

9 AprilCusco Post reports that FARTAC farmers confirm that they will go on strike for 48 hours this April 18 and 19 in protest against the Government in response to the campaign pledge to institute a “Second Agrarian Reform” which farmers say so far has gone nowhere.

Six months after its launching, the Second Agrarian Reform, “born from the countryside”, is still up in the air. There is no way to implement it because it has no budget for its application.

“We, the peasant communities, cannot be used for political advantage, that Cusco is not going to allow,” expressed Walter Torres, president of the Revolutionary Agrarian Federation Túpac Amaru (Fartac). “We demand that at least 7% of the GDP be designated for the agricultural sector.”

Torres said that white corn, which is grown and produced in the provinces of Calca and Urubamba, has gone up to 40 soles per arroba, due to the high cost of fertilizers. Faced with this problem, the farmers do not see any action from the government.

President Castillo Faces Removal Once Again

14 March – For the second time in less than eight months, President Pedro Castillo faces removal by Peru’s Congress. By a vote of 76 for and 41 against (with one abstention), Congress voted to accept the motion of vacancy against President Castillo.

The vacancy motion was presented by the spokesman of Renovación Popular, Jorge Montoya, and has the support of his party as well as Fuerza Popular, Somos Perú, Avanza País, Podemos Perú and Alianza para el Progreso.

The President of Congress, Maria del Carmen Alva, proposed that on March 28th at 3:00 p.m., President Pedro Castillo or his lawyer will appear before Congress and will have 60 minutes to present his defense.

At issue according to the motion are President Castillo’s “contradictions and lies in fiscal investigations”, the “questionable” appointments of at least 10 ministers, the existence of an alleged parallel or ‘shadow’ Ministerial Cabinet, in addition to the President’s statements in an interview with the international network CNN regarding his intention to call for a referendum to grant Bolivia land allowing it access to the Pacific Ocean.

President Castillo had already requested and been granted permission to speak before Congress at 5 pm on Tuesday, 15 March.

Another Minister With a Controversial Past

14 MarchRPP Noticias is reporting the following story this morning about Minister of Agrarian Development and Irrigation, Óscar Zea, and two accusations of murder in 1999 and 2005. (Sorry, but the link can’t be embebed, but you can follow it here.)

President Castillo Faces Another Major Crisis

28 February – The administration of President Pedro Castillo continues it’s almost daily pattern of dealing with major and minor crises. This one, however, is a big one and could lead to a new President though Castillo’s office this morning is saying that he will not resign.

Last Saturday, several media outlets published the testimony of Karelim Lopez which would implicate President Castillo as heading an alleged criminal organization, which would have infiltrated the Government Palace, several ministries and the Congress of the Republic.

The testimony specifies that this group would have had the objective of obtaining money from public works bids with appointments in the Health Directorates throughout the country, promotions in armed institutes and claims to the Sunat.

Castillo rejected the statements that involve him in acts of corruption and said that it was a new plot to try to remove him from office. During a message to the nation Castillo asked the Attorney General’s Office to continue with the investigation initiated and that “objective explanations” could be given as soon as possible.

This new testimony served for the opposition in Congress to insist again on a new scenario for the vacancy of President Pedro Castillo. The spokesman of the Renovación Popular party, Jorge Montoya, announced that he will present a motion to vacate the president in the Spokesman’s Meeting today.

New Poll: Congress Has 82% Disapproval

28 February – The latest survey conducted by the Institute of Peruvian Studies (IEP) for the newspaper La República shows that 82% of Peruvians surveyed disapprove of the performance of the Peruvian Congress with only 14% approving.

María del Carmen Alva, President of Congress, has only 20% approval while her disapproval stands at 73%. A month ago 65% of Peruvians disapproved of her and 26% supported her.

On the other hand, for 26% of the population there is nothing positive in the Congress with 25% saying that the best thing about is that it controls the actions of President Pedro Castillo.

The worst thing about the Parliament for 36% is that they are not interested in the people and only think about themselves. Another 25% of those surveyed say that it is the lack of properly trained people while for 21% of the respondents it is that they do not allow the Executive to govern.

The study conducted February 21-23, has a margin of error of +/- 2.8 points.

Vice Minister of MTC Resigns

Fabiola Caballero Sifuentes

19 February – Fabiola María Caballero Sifuentes resigned as vice minister of Transportation saying that the MTC has “turned into an apparent employment agency to fill positions that require proven experience and qualifications” in her resignation letter deliver to the Minister of Transportation and Communications, Juan Silva Villegas.

She also pointed out that she was not consulted about changes in her office, which made her task as vice minister of Transport difficult saying that “the permanent changes in the offices of the Vice-Ministry of Transportation, without consulting my Office, make it difficult to implement sector policies in accordance with the State’s regulations.”

She added that “the Transportation sector cannot be subjected to the labor overcrowding of citizens who do not have the merits and technical capacities required to guarantee the efficiency of the management entrusted to them in key positions.”

Last February 14, after a report by Latina, the Public Prosecutor Specialized in Corruption Crimes, Javier Pacheco, requested information to Minister Juan Silva, regarding the accusation against an official of this sector for facilitating jobs to people close to Peru Libre (the party of President Castillo and most of the current administration.)

The State Attorney requested, through an official letter, to send a report related to the official Juan Altamirano Sánchez in order to know the terms of reference of the last services, activities of the months he provided services, his documented curriculum and service orders.

In relation to Ray Royer Zamora Palomino, documentation on service orders, awards, contracts, among others, was requested. The same was requested for the advisor of the MTC Julio Lazo Álvarez.

Dismal Polling for the Castillo Administration

14 February – Approval for Pedro Castillo’s administration has dropped to only 25% according to the latest Ipsos poll. Last month approval was at 33%.

In the same poll, the President of Congress, Maria del Carmen Alva fared even worse with only 21% approval.

Aníbal Torres, newly appointed Prime Minister, saw 30% agree with his appointment with 51% disagreeing and 19% — a high number but unexpected number considering he just took office — expressing no opinion.

Even worse, 56% of Peruvians believe that President Castillo should resign his office with 42% believing he should finish out his term over the next four and half years.

When asked what they would prefer to happen in case Pedro Castillo and Vice President Dina Boluarte resign or are removed from office, 74% of the respondents want general elections to be called (presidential and congressional), while only 19% of the population was in favor of holding only presidential elections.

Interestingly, 36% “would definitely agree” with the presidential vacancy; 17% “would think about it and could agree”; 15% “would think about it, but I do not think I would agree”; 30% “would definitely disagree.”

[The national urban-rural survey, which was conducted between February 10 and 11, has a margin of error of +/- 2.8 points. A sample of 1,214 people over 18 years of age from all socioeconomic levels was used.]

Another Scandal Immediately Comes Up For the Castillo Administration

Minister of Health Hernán Condori

11 February – Almost immediately after the swearing of of President’s Castillo’s fourth Cabinet in barely 6 months another scandal appeared with the appointment of Hernán Condori as the new Minster of Health.

RPP Noticias reports that there have been calls for the removal of the recently appointed Minister of Health by prominent individuals and groups. The Peruvian Medical Association itself demanded his immediate departure, stating that he does not have the minimum competencies to hold the position.

The head of this association, Raul Urquizo, said that they arrived at their position after it was revealed that he was promoting products without scientific endorsement and was providing obstetric medicine services, without having this specialization.

The Partido Morado have presented a motion to summon Hernán Condori to Congress to answer questions about his appointment to the position.

RPP Noticias also reports that the Ombudsman’s Office says that it has regretted Condori’s appintment because an investigation by the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office is pending.

“In order to face the health emergency and avoid more deaths from COVID-19, it is urgent that the Ministry of Health is in charge of a person suitable for this function. The Congress of the Republic must avoid a weakening of the Minsa and the vaccination campaign,” the Ombudman’s Office said in a statement.

Condori is being investigated for alleged corruption offenses by the Prosecutor’s Office in Junín, where he served as director of the Chanchamayo Health Network and director of the Regional Health Directorate in 2019 and 2020 respectively, as part of the management of Perú Libre — the party under which President Castillo ran for office last year — in the Regional Government.

Yesterday Peru’s new Prime Minister, Aníbal Torres, said that President Pedro Castillo is evaluating the permanence Condori as Minister of Health.

“The president is already studying this case,” Torres said yesterday. When asked for his opinion on this appointment, Torres Vásquez responding by saying, “my opinion is useless”.

[That last quote seems a very damning comment on Castillo’s unwillingness to listen to the advise of anyone but his reported “shadow Cabinet” as described by multiple Ministers and official advisors. How Castillo could appoint someone to the country’s highest medical position while being under investigation for corruption is unimaginable.]

Peruvian Cabinet 4.0 Announced

9 February – After many days without a cabinet, Peruvian President Pedro Castillo announced his fourth cabinet is just over 6 months last night — the most in Peruvian democratic history.

Aníbal Torres was sworn in as the new president of the Council of Ministers replacing Héctor Valer Pinto, who resigned just four days after accepting the position.

The other Ministers sworn in last night are:

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs: César Rodrigo Landa Arroyo (ratified)
  • Ministry of Defense: José Luis Gavidia Arrascue (ratified)
  • Ministry of Economy: Oscar Miguel Graham Yamahuchi (ratified)
  • Ministry of the Interior: Alfonso Gilberto Chavarry (ratified)
  • Ministry of Justice and Human Rights: Ángel Fernando Yldefonso Narro (replacing Aníbal Torres)
  • Ministry of Education: Rosendo Leoncio Serna Román (ratified)
  • Ministry of Health: Hernán Condori Machado (replaces Hernando Cevallos)
  • Ministry of Agrarian Development and Irrigation: Óscar Zea Choquechambi (replaces Alberto Ramos)
  • Ministry of Labor: Betsy Chavez (ratified)
  • Ministry of Production: Jorge Luis Prado Palomino (ratified)
  • Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism: Roberto Sánchez (ratified)
  • Minister of Energy and Mines: Carlos Sabino Palacios Pérez (replaces Alessandra Herrera Jara)
  • Minister of Transportation and Communications: Juan Silva Villegas (ratified)
  • Ministry of Housing, Construction and Sanitation: Geiner Alvarado López (ratified)
  • Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations: Diana Mirian Miloslavich Tupac (replaces Katy Ugarte Mamani)
  • Ministry of Environment: Modesto Montoya Zavaleta (replaces Wilber Supo)
  • Ministry of Culture: Alejandro Salas (ratified)
  • Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion: Dina Boluarte (ratified)

While much has been made in the past few days about a major overhaul in the Cabinet to make it more inclusive, almost the entire previous Cabinet was left in power.

Peru About to Get Another Prime Minister and Cabinet

5 February – Yesterday evening, President Pedro Castillo announced that he is once again appointing a new Cabinet including a new Prime Minister only three days after swearing in the latest ministers. The next Prime Minister will be the fourth in barely six months since Castillo took office in last July 28.

The announcement came after questions about the Prime Minister, Héctor Valer, and other ministers including allegations of domestic violence against Valer. Earlier in the day, Congress to refuse to hear the Valer after he requested to appear before Congress to present the policies of the new Cabinet.

Apparently the allegations of domestic abuse by Valer against his deceased wife and daughter were known and yet Castillo still appointed him to the second highest position of power in the country.

Castillo did not accept any blame for the appointment of Valer which several of his own Cabinet Ministers have publicly opposed over the past week. Instead he said the Cabinet change was the fault of Congress.

Despite expectations and meeting that went late into the preceding night after Castillo arrived from a visit to Brazil and its President Bolsonaro, the President did not announce a new Prime Minister and has yet to do so as of nearly 10 am this morning.

Once again calls are coming from many leaders across the country for Castillo to resign. He has recently split from his own leftist political party which is now rejecting him and appears to be losing support across the entire country quickly as the situation deteriorates.

Incredibly divisive appointments have been a hallmark of President Castillo since the beginning of his administration. A large number of his own Ministers and officials surrounding him have resigned as a result of apparent inability to lead and concerns over both acceptance of corruption as in the case of the recent resignation of the Minister of the Interior who was trying to fight police corruption without the support of Castillo.

Apparently Castillo is being advised by a nearly secret group of private advisors who have reportedly been given unprecedented access to meetings that are not normally afforded to those not officially part of the government.

Concerns over Presidential dissolvement of Congress is a major concern that underlies everything that is happening right now and could cause a lot of trouble across Peru.

According to the Constitution, If Congress fails to grant a vote of confidence twice to Castillo’s Cabinet, then he can dissolve Congress and call for new elections. There is concern that he will resort to appointing extreme personalities in the hopes of forcing their hand so he can force new Congressional elections. It is unclear that the national police and and the military will give him the support that he needs as they did when President Vizcarra dissolved Congress in a similar situation three years ago.

If such a major crisis does occur, the likelihood of extreme protests across the country is almost a certainty. Such massive political instability will will result in a serious economic crisis that may have extreme long term effects.

Peru has Its Third Prime Minister in Five Months

2 February – After about five months, the administration of President Pedro Castillo has it’s third prime minister after Héctor Valer Pinto was sworn in as the new President of the Council of Ministers, replacing Mirtha Vásquez Chuquilín, in a ceremony held this afternoon in the Golden Hall of the Government Palace.

The new Prime Minister is a lawyer and was elected as congressman of the Republic for the period 2021-2026. He is currently a member of the Perú Democrático party.

Half of the new cabinet ministers were newly sworn in yesterday continuing the trend of a constantly revolving administration with little experience:

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs: César Rodrigo Landa Arroyo (replaces Óscar Maúrtua)
  • Ministry of Defense: José Luis Gavidia Arrascue (replaces Juan Carrasco Millones)
  • Ministry of Economy: Oscar Miguel Graham Yamahuchi (replaces Pedro Francke)
  • Ministry of the Interior: Alfonso Gilberto Chavarry (replaces Avelino Guillén)
  • Ministry of Justice and Human Rights: Aníbal Torres
  • Ministry of Education: Rosendo Serna
  • Ministry of Health: Hernando Cevallos
  • Ministry of Agrarian Development and Irrigation: Alberto Ramos (replaces Víctor Maita)
  • Ministry of Labor: Betsy Chavez
  • Ministry of Production: Jorge Luis Prado Palomino
  • Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism: Roberto Sánchez
  • Minister of Energy and Mines: Alessandra Herrera Jara (replaces Eduardo Gonzales Toro)
  • Minister of Transportation and Communications: Juan Silva
  • Ministry of Housing, Construction and Sanitation: Geiner Alvarado López
  • Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations: Katy Ugarte Mamani (replaces Anahí Durand)
  • Ministry of Environment: Wilber Supo (replaces Rubén Ramírez)
  • Ministry of Culture: Alejandro Salas (replaces Gisela Ortíz)
  • Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion: Dina Boluarte

Another Major Crisis in the Castillo Administration

1 February – The Peruvian government of Pedro Castillo is under yet another crisis as Prime Minister Mirtha Vasquez has resigned and Castillo says that a new Cabinet will be formed.

Peru will now have its third Prime Minister in about five months under President Castillo. Cabinet ministers come and go in an apparent revolving door policy. All of this means that Castillo has been incapable of selecting qualified and competent people and that consistent leadership ln the various ministries in the various ministries has been nonexistent.

President Castillo, who rarely speaks to the press, announced through his Twitter account:

“As I have always announced in my speeches, the cabinet is under constant evaluation. For this reason, I have decided to renew it and form a new team. I am grateful for the support of Mirtha Vásquez and Ministers of State. We will continue on the path of development for the good of the country.”

Castillo’s announcement comes after he decided on Sunday night to accept the resignation of Minister of the Interior, Avelino Guillen, and to terminate the appointment of the General Commander of the Peruvian Police (PNP), Javier Gallardo.

Vasquez has explained that one of the main reasons got her resignation was concern over the close advisors who surround Castillo.

“I want to express my concern about the environment of advisors that he has that make him make this kind of mistakes,” she said in Nada está dicho on RPP Noticias. “”The president has a team of advisors, I told him openly today, that he should reconsider the issue of who is the closest environment, because you have seen that several times many mistakes are made in the government, and I feel that this is a responsibility of who advises him, who is in direct contact.”

In her letter of resignation, Vasquez said that it was “due to the impossibility of achieving consensus for the benefit of the country”.

Vasquez said out that “unfortunately, we have reached the point of not having been able to achieve at least a consensus on the leadership of a sector as important as the Interior, and neither on the respect for the institutional lines of the same, I doubt then the possibility of advancing in other essential changes in other areas”.

She also indicated that the crisis in the Ministry of the Interior “is not a random and conjunctural matter”, but the expression of a “structural problem of corruption in different instances of the State that has been hitting us and that it is time to address and confront firmly….In spite of the efforts made, I consider that my role has been exhausted in this instance, and that it is necessary for your government to reshuffle the Cabinet, which I have been warning about for weeks.”

There have also been concerning reports of meetings with the President that have not been reported as required by law.

Latest Poll on President Castillo and His Administration

29 October – An Ipsos survey for Lampadia says that 64% of those polled believe that Peruvian President Pedro Castillo does not have leadership capacity to solve problems, compared to 33% who think he does and 3% who had no opinion. Interestingly, 33% of those polled believe that Castillo is dishonest.

Ipsos polled 1209 people and found that 35% of those survey believe that the administration does not know how to reactivate the economy or has wrong ideas that paralyze the investment. Another 31 % feel that some ministers make favorable statements but some declarations and designations of President Castillo generate fear and stop the investment.

Only 28% said that the Castillo’s administration knows what to do to reactivate the economy and is taking the necessary measures to increase investment and recover employment.

Not surpisingly, 70% of respondents believe that President Pedro Castillo does not know how to select “capable and unimpeachable” people to be ministers and public officials to help him govern while only 24% do believe in his ability to select effective ministers.

Ipsos also reported that 61% believe that the Minister of the Interior, Luis Barranzuela, will try to help his former clients with 27% believing that he will order the Police to do their job. Barranzuela has served as lawyer for Peru Libre’s embattled leader, Vladimir Cerrón, among others.

The survey also asked respondents about the Minister of Education, Carlos Gallardo, who has been questioned for having been one of the leaders of the union that carried out the teachers’ strike in 2017 with the support of Movadef (the political arm of the hated Sendero Luminosa terrorist group). Not surprisingly, 66% of those polled are against his appointment in the Cabinet compared to 23 % who expressed support.

The Ipsos poll also said that 29% of the respondents believe that the estrangement between President Pedro Castillo and the leader of the Peru Libre party, Vladimir Cerron, is only apparent because both act in coordination.

Another 25% believe that there has indeed been some distancing but that Cerrón continues to have influence because Castillo does not want to lose the support of the Perú Libre party. Another 19% believe that, despite the distancing, Cerrón continues to have influence because Castillo fears that he will divulge confidential information while only 18% think that there has been a real rupture and that both are very distant.

Seventeen percent of those polled believe that Evo Morales, former President of Bolivia, has the right “to come whenever he wants” to spread his ideas, such as promoting a Constituent Assembly, but an overwhelming 80% say that he does not have the right to participate in Peruvian politics because he is a foreign politician.

Peru’s Vice President Under Investigation

24 October – Peru’s Vice President and Minister of Development and Social Inclusion, Dina Boluarte, has been included in the investigation for alleged money laundering in the illegal financing of the electoral campaigns of 2020 and 2021 of the Peru Libre party.

Boluarte said this morning, from the city of Ica, that she will discuss the issue with President Pedro Castillo today and claimed that she did not commit any illegal act. “As the investigation progresses, the Prosecutor’s Office will withdraw us from the process,” she said, “because it has neither head nor tail.”

Peru’s Minister of the Interior Under Investigation

19 OctoberRPP Noticias reports that, according to Karim Ninaquispe, head of the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office for Corruption of Public Officials of Lambayeque, a preliminary investigation against the Minister of the Interior, Luis Barranzuela, was opened last September for the alleged crimes of organized crime, money laundering and fraudulent embezzlement by extension.

In an interview with RPP’s “Nada está dicho” program, Ninaquispe explained that some whistleblowers presented an audit report on the administration of Empresa Agroindustrial Tumán between 2015 and 2016 saying that “certain services are questioned, both for natural and legal persons, which, apparently, would come to be fictitious.”

According to Ninaquispe, an alleged network led by former judicial administrators involved more than 12 million soles in a case known as “The Sugar Incas.””

Ninaquispe says that Luis Barranzuela would have received between January, February, and April of 2016 the sum of 207 000 soles for alleged phantom services, since “it does not seem any support that accredits that the service was provided as a lawyer.”

“We are talking about 37 formally investigated and it is going to have to be determined by the Public Prosecutor’s Office if, in fact, they are fictitious services or not”, Ninaquispe continued.

He also said that his office have asked the people included in this investigation to send to the Public Prosecutor’s Office the documentation that would certify that they have or have not provided services to the agro-industrial company, Empresa Agroindustrial Tumán “to speed up this investigation.”

President Castillo Announces New Advisor With a History of Disturbing Statements

18 October – Peruvian President Pedro Castillo, announced that he met with the former mayor of Lima, Ricardo Belmont, and annonced that Belmont will be an advisor to the Presidential Office.

“My thanks to Ricardo Belmont for joining the Bicentennial Government team. His professional and political experience will be at the service of Peru, assuming the advisory of the Presidential Office. We will achieve a good job, always thinking in the development of the country,” Castillo posted through his Twitter account.

This appointment has been strongly questioned, since Belmont has had a series of questionable comments that border on xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia and even insults to the President himself, Pedro Castillo. Belmont is also an outspoken opponent of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Here is a list of some Belmont’s more controversial comments as reported by RPP Noticias:

Castillo goes to jail or ends up rich and escaped from the country.
“I feel sorry for Castillo, because he is going to be one more of those who goes to jail or ends up rich and escaped from the country with the help of other thieves,” said Ricardo Belmont in a Facebook broadcast in October 2021.

Caviares through the back door
“This lady in Congress was the one who did not want to look at pensions. She did not want to look at anything, she did not support anything being president of Congress and now she is President of the Council of Ministers. And I don’t know what ability these caviars have to get in everywhere. They get in through the back door. They always get in through the back door”, he said on his Facebook, after the appointment of Mirtha Vásquez as the new Ministerial Chief of Cabinet.

Potables and ‘maceteaditas
“Venezuelans look very good, the women are quite potable, they are ‘maceteaditas’, they are very nice and they don’t look like they came from Venezuela, because it is assumed that in Venezuela there is no food,” he said in a video when he was running for mayor of Lima in 2018.

I don’t bring a stranger into my house
“Let the Peruvians who adore Venezuelans open a room in their homes, a bed, and welcome them to be consistent with their idea. I don’t bring a stranger into my house,” he said in an interview to ATV in 2018, when he was running for mayor of Lima.

We live in the country of gays
“We are going to do an editorial on homosexuality in Peru, with all due respect to the people who through the media express their sexual option, very respectable, but who make it so important as news that I thought we live in the country of gays and it is not so,” Belmont criticized the newspaper El Comercio in 2018, for publishing on the front page the victory of the recognition in Reniec of the marriage of the economist Óscar Ugarteche Galarza and his same-sex partner.

Let them defend themselves
Let them defend themselves, because if they do not defend their country and do not fight there, they come here so that we who are such good people with strangers stay in our homes, they are going to take away the jobs of the few Peruvians”, said the then candidate for mayor of Lima for Peru Libre about Venezuelans in an interview to ATV Noticias.

Do vaccines kill, leave you sterile and make you impotent?
“First Vizcarra and the ministers should get it. Before Vizcarra leaves, we will do an exercise to see if the vaccine makes you fall in love with Richard Swing and we’ll get fucked. Because every vaccine you get can kill you, it can make you sterile, it can make you impotent and it can change your DNA and be another person with the vaccine,” he said in a November 2020 Facebook broadcast. Belmont has also questioned the quarantines to prevent contagions in the first wave of COVID-19.

I’m not a thingy
“I’m not a little thing. She occasionally grabs my little thingy. (…) I’m not a chibolero, but I stole it when I was 20 years old,” he said at a campaign rally for mayor of Lima in 2018. On that occasion, he was accompanied by his wife.

Loving the woman first and keeping the mistress.
In an interview in ATV, journalist Milagros Leiva questions Ricardo Belmont about xenophobia, especially towards Venezuelans. This is an excerpt of the interview:

“Ricardo Belmont: Why don’t they (Venezuelans) go to the United States?
Milagros Leiva: Because of Trump. He is a facho.
Ricardo Belmont: (Trump) defends his country. The economy has already been reactivated. (…) You have to love your wife first and if you can keep your mistress”.

Criminal! Didn’t you see his face?
While Ricardo Belmont was walking the streets of Lima campaigning for mayor, a citizen shouted “Xenophobe!” because of his comments against Venezuelan migration. Belmont on that occasion had an unfortunate reaction loaded with prejudice and discrimination. Here is the dialogue:

Ricardo Belmont: Look at this delinquent who came to grab me from behind, did you see him or didn’t you notice?
Journalist: Why delinquent?
Ricardo Belmont: Didn’t you see his face?
Reporter: You take a person out by his face if he is a delinquent?
Ricardo Belmont: Didn’t you come to scold me?
Reporter: But did he steal something from you?
Ricardo Belmont: You don’t need to steal from me.
Reporter: You just said he’s a criminal.
Ricardo Belmont: Did you see his face?
Reporter: But that’s discrimination.
Ricardo Belmont: You saw how he came to hit me.

– RPP Noticias

New Poll Results: What Do Peruvians Think About the Change in Administration

16 October – The latest El Comercio-Ipsos poll shows the first glimpse into popular support for Prime Minister Mirtha Vásquez’s cabinet after she replaced the immensely unpopular Guido Bellido.

In the survey 34% said that Congress should give her cabinet a vote of confidence without any changes with 30% saying that the vote of confidence should be given only if the Minister of the Interior is replaced. 27% believe that there should be no vote of confidence given at all while 9% had no opinion.

The poll also found out that 34% of Peruvians thought the current cabinet is better than the previous one with 38% saying it’s the same and and 14% saying it’s worse.

Regarding some congressmen of Perú Libre who have announced that they will not vote in favor of the confidence vote, 51% thought that it would be a “wake-up call to President Castillo, so that he will influence more representatives of Perú Libre in the government”, while 37% considered it “a disloyal attitude towards President Castillo who got candidates from Perú Libre elected to Congress”.

39% of those surveyed believe that the Secretary General of Peru Libre, Vladimir Cerron, and President Castillo “continue to have a close relationship” with 34% saying the two have a distant relationship and 12% believing there is no relationship at all.

Interestingly, 58% of those surveyed said that President Castillo should govern focus his efforts on priority issues for the country while 39% say that he should focus on his campaign promises.

Changes to Curfew and Interprovincial Travel Requirements

14 October – Last night the Minister of Health, Hernando Cevallos, announced two big changes regarding curfew hours and Interprovincial travel. The new changes will be included in a Supreme Decree expected at any time as the current rules regarding COVID restrictions expire in 3 days.

The curfew across the country will be from 2 to 4 am. The new regulations will allow businesses such as restaurants to operate later and still give their employees time to return home.

Also, Cevallos announced that people over 45 years of age will need to have two doses of the covid-19 vaccine for interprovincial travel. He also said that this requirement will not go into effect for one month to allow people time to get their vaccination doses.

“Although the vaccine is voluntary, no one has the right to infect others. If you travel in an interprovincial bus, usually for several hours, the person sitting next to you should be less likely to infect you,” he said.

It was not clear if this applies to all interprovincial travel or just land travel.

[UPDATE: The new rules will be in effect 18-31 October. The rules regarding interprovincial travel applies to land travel only and to ALL passengers.]

New Administration Sworn in Last Night

After barely two months, the administration of Peruvian President Pedro has undergone major changes and a shift from his parties Marxist leanings towards a more moderate cabinet which will certainly go a long way towards calming domestic and international concerns that have been fueling the drastic devaluation of the Peruvian nuevo sol against the US dollar.

Leading the new Council of Ministers will be Prime Minister Mirtha Esther Vasquez Chuquilin. Vasquez, 46, is a lawyer and legislator who served as Congressional Chairwoman during the Transition Government of ex-President Francisco Sagasti. She also served as a lawmaker for Frente Amplio in the 2020-2021 period.

Here is the rest of the Ministerial Cabinet:

  • Oscar Maurtua de Romaña (Foreign Affairs)
  • Walter Edison Ayala Gonzales (Defense)
  • Pedro Andres Toribio Topiltzin Francke Ballve (Economy and Finance)
  • Luis Roberto Barranzuela Vite (Interior)
  • Anibal Torres Vasquez (Justice and Human Rights)
  • Carlos Alfonso Gallardo Gomez (Education)
  • Hernando Ismael Cevallos Flores (Health)
  • Victor Raul Maita Frisancho (Agrarian Development and Irrigation)
  • Betssy Betzabet Chavez Chino (Labor and Employment Promotion)
  • Jose Roger Incio Sanchez (Production)
  • Roberto Sanchez Palomino (Foreign Trade and Tourism)
  • Eduardo Eugenio Gonzalez Toro (Energy and Mines)
  • Juan Francisco Silva Villegas (Transportation and Communications)
  • Geiner Alvarado Lopez (Housing, Construction, and Sanitation)
  • Anahi Durand Guevara (Women and Vulnerable Populations)
  • Ruben Jose Ramirez Mateo (Environment)
  • Andrea Gisela Ortiz Perea (Culture)
  • Dina Ercilia Boluarte Zegarra (Development and Social Inclusion)

Ms. Vasquez now must go before Congress within 30 days to describe the new administration’s proposals and policies while requesting a Congressional vote of confidence. A majority vote is needed or the entire cabinet must resign, but there is very little likelihood that they will not receive this support. Some members of Congress have already indicated that they will vote to support this new administration.

Yesterday, the US dollar rose to another new high against the Peruvian Nuevo Sol — an almost daily occurrence recently — in rising over 14% in value so far in 2021. Yesterday’s market close saw the dollar costing 4.138 soles, but the changes in the administration had not come. Experts expect a much needed decrease when the markets open at 9 am this morning.

Prime Minister Bellido Resigns

6 October – This afternoon, Peruvian President Pedro Castillo, in an extremely short address to the nation, announced that the President of the Council of Ministers Guido Bellido, has resigned.

Castillo also said that a new :ministerial cabinet” would be sworn in this evening. As is normal with this administration, nothing more was said.

“It is time to put Peru first. (…) Therefore, I inform the country that today we have accepted the resignation of the president of the Council of Ministers, Guido Bellido, whom I thank for his services rendered and I announce the swearing in of the new cabinet for today at 8:00 p.m.,” said Castillo.

“Compatriots, Peruvian people, since I took office I have been working hard to fulfill all commitments. As we announced in the international tour, we ratified Peru’s commitment with private investment, stressing the need for it to operate without corruption, with social responsibility, prioritizing national productive diversification,” said Castillo.

“In my commitment to address as a priority the major problems of the country, such as health, hunger, poverty, I have decided to take some decisions in favor of governance. The balance of powers is the bridge between the rule of law and democracy, it must ensure tranquility and cohesion of the government, so the question of confidence, the interpellation, as well as the motion of censure, should not be used to create political instability,” added President Castillo.

Obviously, a lot more will be coming out in the coming hours. I recommend that you follow me on Twitter @PeruTravelnLife to keep up with what’s going on as there have been credible reports that there will be new Ministers of Defense, Transportation/Communication, Culture, and Labor, though this was not addressed by the President.

Motion to Censure Labor Minister Introduced in Congress

1 October – A motion to censure the Minister of Labor and Employment Promotion, Iber Maraví, was introduced in Congress by the Renovación Popular party claiming Maraví failed to disassociate himself from the links with the terrorist group, Shining Path, and its political arm, Movadef. The censure motion was presented during the debate after yesterday’s testifying of the minister before Congress.

According to the motion reported by RPP Noticias, the undersigned legislators point out that the answers offered by the minister to the interpellation “have not satisfied the National Representation” and “During his presentation, Minister Iber Maraví has not been able to satisfactorily deny the multiple evidence linking him to the Shining Path and its political facade, the Movadef.”

They also note that one of his first actions in office was to register the National Federation of Education Workers of Peru, which has alleged links with the Movadef, in the Registry of Public Servants’ Union Organizations.

The motion was promoted by the Renovación Popular bench according to its spokesman, Jorge Montoya. So far it has the signature of at least 42 parliamentarians from the Renovación Popular, Avanza País, Alianza Para el Progreso, and Podemos Perú parties.

According to Article 86 of the Regulations of the Congress, a motion needs a minimum of 33 signatures to be submitted to the Main Office. It is then reported and must be placed on the agenda for debate. In order for it to be approved, it is necessary that half plus one of the legal number of congressmen support it, that is to say, at least 66 legislators would have to vote in favor.

Value of the Dollar Continues to Rise Against the Peruvian Nuevo Sol

29 September – This chart, courtesy of Peruvian economist Pablo Moreyra, shows the trend in the increase of the cost of the US dollar against the the Peruvian nuevo sol currency since the election of Peruvian President Pedro Castillo and, in particular, as a result of the policies and statements made by the grossly inexperienced President of the Council of Ministers, Guido Bellido.

International markets are becoming alarmed at the instability of the Peruvian economy and government as a result of the extreme socialist policies of an administration influenced by Venezuela and the Bolivian ex-President Evo Morales. A serious lack of transparency and refusal of the administration to answer questions from the press is contributing to the concern of national and global economists.

As a result of this concern, three motions were introduced yesterday calling on Bellido to appear before Peru’s Congress to explain his comments about nationalizing the natural gas consortium, Camisea, along with other serious concerns including explaining why Hugo César Tito Rojas, leader of the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights (Movadef), the political arm of the Shining Path terrorist group, was in the offices of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. Another motion introduced yesterday calls upon Bellido to explain investigations opened by the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office of Huánuco against him.

Tomorrow (Thursday), the Minister of Labor, Íber Maraví, is expected to be present in Congress to be questioned for alleged links with radical groups such as Movadef, as well as for his alleged participation in terrorist attacks in Ayacucho.

Bellido’s Comment on Gas Nationalization Having a Big Effect

28 September – Once again the current administration appears to not be working on concert and is possibly looking at a path that is strongly opposed by the Peruvian population.

Over the weekend, the President of the Council of Ministers, Guido Bellido, said that the Camisea natural gas concessionaire field will be nationalized if it does not accept the renegotiation of profit sharing. This caused significant shock waves both domestically and internationally.

Through his Twitter account, Bellido wrote, “We summon the company that exploits and commercializes Camisea gas to renegotiate the distribution of profits in favor of the State, otherwise, we will opt for the recovery or nationalization of our field.”

His announcement came after President Pedro Castillo assured investors that no expropriation would take place during last week’s tour of Mexico and the United States.

The Camisea project is in charge of the consortium integrated by the companies Pluspetrol Peru, Hunt Oil Company of Peru LLC, Tecpetrol del Peru SAC, SK Corporation, Sonatrach Peru Corporation SAC and Repsol Exploración Perú. The Peruvian State granted the license in February 2020 for the exploitation of the field (extraction of natural gas and liquid hydrocarbons) for 40 years.

“We are not communists, we have not come to expropriate anyone, we have not come to scare away investments, on the contrary we are calling big investors, businessmen to go to Peru, to come to Peru”. said Castillo last Monday before the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington. “A government without private investment is nothing, we take advantage of the space to call on private enterprise.”

Last night Castillo said through his Twitter account that “any renegotiation will be carried out with unrestricted respect for the rule of law and looking after national interests” and that his government is committed to bring cheap gas to all Peruvians where discission between public and private investment is needed.”

Condemnation of Bellido’s comments were immediate and strong.

As a result, the price of the dollar rose to 4.126 soles at the interbank level this morning according to Bloomberg — a new record high and a big jump from the previous day’s trading.

At the beginning of August, the Minister of Economy, Pedro Francke, had assured that the government of Pedro Castillo was not going to expropriate Camisea.

“The private companies will continue to exploit it. We want to ensure that it serves so that Peruvians have cheaper gas in their homes,” said Francke in an interview with Canal N.

New Poll on President Approval

A survey by the Institute of Peruvian Studies (IEP) published by La República shows Peruvian President Pedro Castillo has 40% approval of Peruvians with 42% disapproving. His approval in Lima stands at 25% and is much higher (48%) in the rest of the country.

The survey was conducted from September 20 to 23 and has a margin of error of +/- 2.8 points.

In the northern Peru, 42% approve of President Pedro Castillo. His approval stands at 48% in central Peru, 58% in southern Peru, and 43% in eastern Peru.

Th survey indicated that 53% believe that Castillo cares “for those who have the least” and 51% that he “represents the people as one”. In addition, 46% believe that he has the capacity to govern and 44% say that the president inspires confidence.

The Minister of Health, Hernando Cevallos, has 67% approval, while the Minister of Economy, Pedro Francke, has 54% approval. Aníbal Torres, Minister of Justice, has 49% approval, but the Prime Minister, Guido Bellido only has 33% approval.

One positive is that 58% believe that Castillo and the health sector team are handling the immunization process “well or very well”.

Foreign Minister will Testify Before Congress About Castillo/Maduro Meeting

The Foreign Relations Commission of the Congress of the Republic summoned Foreign Minister Óscar Maúrtua on Tuesday, September 28 to explain the meeting that President Pedro Castillo and Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro held in Mexico that was not on the President’s agenda.

Congressional parliamentarian Ernesto Bustamante, president of the Foreign Affairs Commission confirmed that the Foreign Ministry had agreed to the appearance by Maúrtua on the program Las 5 de las 7.

“It is correct, the invitation has already been formally sent. What has been done is to coordinate with the Chancellery and we have received a confirmatory response from the Chancellery. On Monday they have scheduled an extraordinary Council of Ministers and this takes place from 8:00 a.m. until an undefined time, and in order not to bother the Chancellor, we have coordinated that his presence will be on Tuesday at 3 p.m.,” said Bustamante.

Ernesto Bustamante indicated that Foreign Minister Óscar Maúrtua will be asked about the circumstances of the “quasi-secret meeting” between President Pedro Castillo and the de facto president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, in foreign territory. In addition, he will be consulted on the exchange of opinions between Vice Chancellor Luis Enrique Chávez and Premier Guido Bellido.

“It is important to know the terms of the meeting. Now, Venezuela is a brother country, it is a friendly country. We have no quarrel with Venezuela. The problem is the Venezuelan regime, which has achieved that there is a Venezuelan diaspora of 3 million Venezuelans, of which one million are in Peru. We cannot have a diplomatic relationship with Mr. Maduro’s regime. That is not possible because otherwise we would be really insulting the more than one million Venezuelans who are living in Peru today”, he said.

Ernesto Bustamante considered that Maduro’s proposal for a plan for the return of Venezuelan migrants in Peru is not viable.

“Venezuelans who are in Peru are doing so freely,” said Bustamante. “They have decided to come to Peru [and] to stay in Peru. Peru has welcomed them [and] has given them work permits. It is not possible for a dictator to come and say that ‘I am going to send a plane to pick up 40,000, 80,000 or one person’. That is a personal decision.”

[NOTE: This could be a huge issue for the Peruvian administration. A “quasi-secret meeting” with the ruler of a government considered illegitimate in Peru is going to fuel a great deal of anger in the coming days. Sadly, the Peruvian administration no longer holds press conferences and is vastly different from the transparency of previous administrations.]

Maduro Says He Asked for President Castillo’s Support in Returning Venezuelans

22 September – RPP Noticias reports this morning that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday that he proposed to President Pedro Castillo to cooperate to promote the plan called “Return to the Homeland” for the return of migrants from Venezuela currently living in Peru and that it should be “massive”.

“I was talking to President Pedro Castillo about the ‘Vuelta a la Patria’ plan. We have more than 42,000 Venezuelans registered to return from Peru and we have agreed to coordinate the governments of Peru and Venezuela for a massive “Vuelta a la Patria” plan,” he said in a ceremony broadcast by the state-owned Venezolana de Televisión (VTV).

Maduro explained that Venezuela will provide the airplanes and will seek “support” from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) “and other international organizations for this plan because these Venezuelans want to return.”

According to the Interagency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela (R4V), about 5.6 million Venezuelans have emigrated due to the crisis Venezuela. Of these, 1.04 million have settled in Peru, the country with the second largest number of Venezuelan migrants after Colombia.

Peru Extends State of Emergency Through October 31

17 September – Starting October 1, Peru has extended the state of national emergency through the month of October as published in the Supreme Decree No. 152-2021-PCM published this morning in the official newspaper El Peruano.

Of note is that the decree explicitly states that:

“Peruvians, resident foreigners, and non-resident foreigners whose final destination is the national territory, as passengers and regardless of the country of origin, must have a negative molecular test with a result date of no more than 72 hours before boarding at their point of origin and have completed the respective doses of vaccines according to the requirements of the country where they were vaccinated. Those persons who show symptoms upon entering the national territory are placed in mandatory isolation, according to regulations on the matter.”

8.7 Los peruanos, extranjeros residentes, y extranjeros no residentes cuyo destino final sea el territorio nacional, en calidad de pasajeros e independientemente del país de procedencia, deben contar con una prueba molecular negativa con fecha de resultado no mayor a 72 horas antes de abordar en su punto de origen y haber completado las respectivas dosis de vacunas según las exigencias del país donde se vacunó. Aquellas personas que muestren síntomas al ingresar a territorio nacional ingresan a aislamiento obligatorio, según regulaciones sobre la materia.

– Supreme Decree No. 152-2021-PCM

This is a change from what has been reported that fully vaccinated arrivals were not required to be tested prior to arrive, but the new decree clearly says molecular tests and vaccinations are obligatory.

During the present extension of the state of national emergency, the exercise of constitutional rights relating to personal liberty and security, the inviolability of homes, as well as freedom of assembly and transit in the territory, remains restricted. 

Personnel of the National Police of Peru and Armed Forces will ensure unrestricted compliance with the provisions issued within the framework of the state of emergency, in accordance with current regulations.

The decree also establishes that mandatory social immobility of all people in their homes is provided until October 3, 2021, in accordance with the alert level based on the following detail:

-Moderate alert level: Mondays to Sundays from 1:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m.
-High alert level: Mondays to Sundays from 11:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. the next day.
-Very high alert level: Mondays to Sundays from 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. the next day.
-Extreme alert level: Mondays to Saturdays from 9:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. the next day; and on Sundays from 4:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. the next day.

[NOTE: The decree fails to point out which provinces fall under which risk level designations. As has been the case during the entire duration of this administration there is zero explanation or comment from any of the government’s ministries about this decree. About 7-8 hours after publication, it appears that Peruvian media was caught off guard, too as there is almost no coverage so far.]

Likewise, the regulation indicates that the use of face masks is mandatory to circulate on public roads, as well as the use of double masks (one of which could be made of cloth) to enter establishments with the risk of overcrowding, such as:
shopping centers, galleries, conglomerates, department stores, supply stores for basic products, supermarkets, markets, warehouses and pharmacies. The additional requirement a face shield in these establishments is recommended.

New Survey Results on Peru’s Administration

16 September – A recent Datum poll, published in the newspaper, Perú21, says that the President of the Council of Ministers, Guido Bellido, has the support of 24% of the population with 51% disapproving of him. According to the survey, made to a base of 1,202 people nationwide, in no region his approval exceeds 41%.

President Pedro Castillo also saw an increase in his disapproval (46%) in September mainly due to the increase in the prices of products, lack of capacity to govern, the failure to reactivate the economy and the appointment of authorities to public positions despite not having the qualifications.

The management of the economy turns out to be one of the most questioned points to the Government by those polled. The survey showed that 34% approve of the management of the Minister of Economy, Pedro Francke, compared to 36% who disapprove of it. Meanwhile, 55% disapprove of the work of the Congress of the Republic, compared to 30% who approve.

The survey revealed an interesting divide among the people consulted who consider that who really “rules the country” is the founder of Perú Libre, Vladimir Cerrón, or President Pedro Castillo. Both men had 47% of the population believing they were in charge, though this is 5% more in the last month for President Castillo.

Finally, 63% consider that there are ministers linked to terrorism, compared to only 19% who do not believe this to be the case. 53% believe that the president of the Council of Ministers, Guido Bellido, has links with the terrorist organization Sendero Luminoso, compared to 23% who do not. In general, the survey also indicates that 49% believe that the Shining Path has a presence in the Executive.

Peru’s Economy up 12.94%

15 September – The National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI) reports that Peruvian national production grew 12.94% in July 2021 over the same month last year due to the positive performance of most economic sectors, with the exception of fisheries, mining and hydrocarbons.

The result is compared to that of July 2020 when national production fell 11.71%.

In its National Production technical report, INEI indicated that —between January and July 2021— Peruvian GDP expanded by 19.68%.  It also grew by 8.52% in the annualized period (August 2020-July 2021).

Construction (37.40%); commerce (13.25%); transportation, storage, and messaging (38.61%); accommodation and restaurants (124.20%); as well as services provided to companies (21.13%), which together contribute around 70% of the overall result all had significant growth.

Manufacturing (6.70%), farming (11.09%), telecommunications (7.61%); finance and insurance (5.10%), public administration, electricity, gas, and water (7.14%) also grew.

Mining-hydrocarbons (-0.94%) and fisheries (-41.39%) were two sectors that showed negative growth.

Administration Approval Up, but Congress’ Down

13 September – Approval of President Pedro Castillo’s administration rose to 42% in September, 4 percentage points higher than last month (38%), according to the latest Ipsos Peru survey commissioned by the newspaper El Comercio.

Disapproval of the president also rose from 45% to 46% between August and September with 12% not registering no opinion this month, five points less than in August (17%).

Castillo is only approved by 29% of those surveyed in the country’s capital and disapproved by 62%. Approval in the rest of the country was 44% and disapproval 45%.

Among the main reasons for approving of Castillo mentioned are his desire for Peru to change (45%), the fight against corruption (32%) and his identification with “the problems of the people” (22%). In addition, 20% approve of him because he is “humble” or “a good person” and 18% for his proposal to create a new Constitution (18%).

Those who disapprove of him indicated that he is prepared to govern (39%), has summoned bad professionals (31%), is surrounded by terrorist sympathizers (28%), is damaging the economy (20%) and is surrounded by corrupt people (19%).

The survey also polled Peruvians about the performance of the President of the Council of Ministers, Guido Bellido, the Minister of Economy, Pedro Francke, the Congress and its president, María del Carmen Alva.

Prime Minister Bellido is approved by 25% of those interviewed and disapproved by 60%.

Minister of Economy and Finance Francke received the support of 41% with disapproval at 36%.

Congress received 37% approval, while 49% disapprove. The president of Congress, Alva, is approved by 33% and disapproved by 47%.

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