The government of President Pedro Castillo in Peru, in constant crisis since he took office, witnessed the departure of yet another minister this Monday (8). The defense minister, Walter Ayala, submitted his resignation after information was made public that he was seeking promotions for military personnel close to the head of state.
Castillo has yet to confirm whether he accepts the resignation of Ayala, a former judge. If accepted, he would be the tenth minister changed in his cabinet in just over three months of government – he took office in July. A week ago, Luis Barranzuela (Interior) left the government after holding a party amid the ban on such events in the country.
The new chapter of the crisis in the government began after the president dismissed the commanders of the Army, General José Vizcarra, and of the Air Force, Jorge Chaparro. The two later said they were pressured to irregularly promote some figures in the armed forces. According to what they say, the attempts came from Minister Ayala and Bruno Pacheco, Castillo’s secretary.
“I replied that [não faria isso] in no way, that he would respect the meritocracy and procedures that were established in the law,” Chaparro told the Peruvian newspaper El Comercio. After the statements, opposition lawmakers announced that they would try to remove the minister from office. Hours later, he presented his resignation. .
“I make my position available, thanking my country and fulfilling my duty to the motherland,” Ayala wrote in a Twitter post. “Do not use pretexts against democracy,” he added.
The two former commanders will testify this Tuesday afternoon at the Committee on Defense and Internal Order of the Peruvian Congress, which must assess the request for an investigation into possible pressure exerted by Pedro Castillo on the Armed Forces. Generals Ciro Bocanegra Loayza and Carlos Sánchez Cahuancama would have been favored, say Vizcarra and Chaparro.
Parliamentarian José Williams Zapata, from Avança País, who chairs the commission, said that even Ayala’s departure –if Castillo’s resignation is accepted– does not put an end to the crisis.
The congressman said the allegations reveal a “great error” by political authorities. “We’ve already seen that involving the armed forces in politics is the worst thing that can be done,” he said. “The Armed Forces do not belong to the president, they do not belong to the government, but rather to the nation, to the people, and they must obey the Constitution.”
On a social network, the Joint Command of the Armed Forces posted a video in which, although without mentioning the allegations, it says that “one of the most important factors of the military is respect.”
A month ago, in search of governability, Castillo changed the president of the Council of Ministers, a figure who in Peru corresponds to the post of prime minister, and part of his ministerial cabinet. The new names proposed by the president were the reason for internal divergences in the governing party, Perú Libre, and approved last Thursday (4) by the Legislative.
Pedro Castillo defeated by a small margin the rightist Keiko Fujimori, daughter of dictator Alberto Fujimori, who led the country from 1990 to 2000 and is in prison for corruption and crimes against humanity.