Peru’s Congress approves President Pedro Castillo’s cabinet, simultaneously considers impeaching him

By March 11, 2022

Peruvian President Pedro Castillo’s cabinet was approved by the country’s Congress on Wednesday. The same Congress will consider a motion to impeach him next Monday, March 14. 

In what some media described as a potentially short-lived vote of confidence, lawmakers approved the embattled president’s latest team by a vote of 64 to 58 with two abstentions. Mr. Castillo has now proposed four different cabinets since assuming office in July 2021, according to Reuters

This cabinet is led by Prime Minister Aníbal Torres, Castillo’s former justice and human rights minister who was appointed by Castillo on February 8. Torres, a lawyer and academic, hadn’t held any official roles in government before Castillo’s administration, having worked as a legal advisor for Castillo’s campaign as well as the president’s Marxist Free Peru political party. 

Prime Minister Aníbal Torres. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Castillo’s previous cabinets fell apart amid political instability and scandals. 

His first Prime Minister, Guido Bellido (July 29 to October 6, 2021), a former congressman from Cusco and member of the Free Peru party, was reportedly asked by Castillo to resign after threatening to nationalize the country’s oil sector. Upon the resignation of a prime minister, Peru’s Constitution calls for the dissolution of the entire cabinet. 

Castillo appointed his second Prime Minister, Mirtha Vásquez, on October 6, 2021. The appointment of Ms. Vásquez, a moderate left-wing politician not from Free Peru, was seen as an attempt by Castillo to soothe Congress after the appointment of the far-left Bellido. According to Americas Quarterly, Vazquez resigned over a disagreement with Castillo about managing corruption within the country’s national police force, dissolving once again the cabinet. 

The day after Ms. Vásquez’s resignation, Castillo appointed Héctor Valer as his next prime minister. Floating throughout his political career in Congress between conservative and more progressive parties, Mr. Valer’s term was cut short just days after his appointment when public outrage over his domestic abuse of his wife and his daughter forced his resignation. 

According to Peru’s Constitution, a president can dissolve Congress if lawmakers fail to ratify cabinet appointments twice in a five-year presidential term. Many analysts have suggested that some of Castillo’s cabinet appointments were bait for Congress to deny him a vote of confidence.

Peru’s Congress. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

On Monday, lawmakers will consider a motion to impeach Castillo for a second time since he took office. Right-wing opponents in Congress argue that Castillo is morally unfit for office, accusing him of numerous violations including corruption, according to Reuters. Castillo survived impeachment in December 2021 after opponents launched an inquiry into $20,000 found in a bathroom of the presidential palace that allegedly belonged to his presidential secretary. 

Peru’s recent political landscape mirrors the chaotic nature of Castillo’s current term. The country has had five presidents in the last four years.