Peruvian President Pedro Castillo’s attempt to dissolve his country’s Congress before a vote of impeachment has sparked chaos in the nation as well as confusion among diplomats regarding who is currently the leader of the country, the Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.
“We have no idea who’s the president now,” said a spokesman for the Peruvian embassy in Washington, D.C. They added that they were waiting for information to reach diplomats regarding the matter.
Peru entered a constitutional crisis on Wednesday after Castillo, a former schoolteacher and left-wing Marxist politician elected in 2021, announced that he would dissolve the unicameral Peruvian Congress and impose a state of national emergency, which included a national curfew and authority to rule by decree. The Congress was in the middle of impeachment proceedings against Castillo for allegations of corruption, previously investigated by Peru’s Public Prosecutor, that Castillo received $510,000 in exchange for granting Heaven Petroleum, a foreign company, a contract to sell biodiesel, per MercoPress.
Zamir Villaverde, a businessman involved in the deal who later released testimony against Castillo, said that the money was delivered to former Presidential Secretary Bruno Pacheo, who resigned from office following multiple allegations of corruption. He claimed that the money was intended for Castillo’s personal use. This is the fifth active investigation involving Castillo by the Attorney General of Peru’s office, which oversees the Public Prosecutor.
The Congress voted on a motion to initiate impeachment proceedings against Castillo on Dec. 1 and was poised to vote to formally impeach Castillo on Wednesday, its third such attempt less than a year following his assumption of office. A vote of impeachment in Congress must be followed by a vote of removal.
Before that second vote, however, Castillo announced his dissolution and emergency measures. They were widely condemned by other institutions in Peru, with military and police leaders releasing statements in opposition, while reports of their resignation surfaced.
It is unclear at this time whether Castillo’s dissolution of Congress, a power of the president under Article 134 of the Peruvian Constitution, was recognized, and whether a removal vote has been legally conducted.
The First Vice President, Dina Bouarte, who would normally succeed Castillo in the event of a successful impeachment, also reportedly condemned the measure. Castillo was later reported to have fled the presidential palace to seek refuge in a foreign embassy, while some local media suggest that he’d been arrested by police.
Peru has been in the midst of a political crisis since March, with nationwide protests against Castillo’s government’s handling of inflation and the cost of living. In April, protesters ransacked government offices, including those of the Supreme Court of Peru, and attempted to storm the Congress.
Peru’s leadership has also been unstable, with the country having four presidents within the last two years, including one who served for just five days, following the impeachment of former President Martín Vizcarra in 2020.
The White House, the Organization of American States and the U.S. Department of State did not respond to a request for comment.
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