Pedro Castillo Terrones, the provincial public school teacher who assumes the presidency of Peru this Wednesday, on the bicentennial of its independence, will govern with a Congress controlled by the opposition led by Popular Action.
This is the same party that dismissed former president Martín Vizcarra (2018-2020), and in his replacement elected a parliamentarian from the same organization, Manuel Merino, who had to resign after five days, forced by protests against his government that resulted in the murder of two protesters during the police repression.
In view of a Congress dominated by a right-wing alliance who has received the support of Fuerza Popular, the party of former presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori, the leftist Pedro Castillo will define before a divided country what his government will be like.
If in his speech upon assuming the government mandate, Castillo announces any measure that displeases the right-wing parties, especially the Fujimori Popular Force, a a confrontation of powers of which Peruvians have very bad memories of recent incidents.
In 2018, President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, and in 2020, Martín Vizcarra, were removed by a Congress that became a source of permanent disputes and ungovernability.
A different Pedro Castillo
Probably because of what it means to govern without the support of an official majority in Parliament, Pedro Castillo, who will be sworn in as head of state this Wednesday. It is not the same as the presidential candidate Pedro Castillo.
During the campaign, Castillo was a radical presidential candidate very much in line with the program of his Peru Libre party, a left-wing political organization that was established in the central Andean region of the country, Junín, as an alternative to the other leftist groups with greater presence in the capital, Lima.
The founder of Peru Libre, Vladimir Cerrón Rojas, is a neurosurgeon doctor graduated from the University of Medical Sciences of Camagüey, Cuba, where he also consolidated his Marxist-Leninist ideological training.
Cerrón decided to develop his professional work in his native region, Junín, and also his political activity. Between 2011 and 2014 he was elected as governor of that region, which culminated in several investigations for alleged acts of corruption.
In 2020, Cerrón decided to run as a candidate for the presidency, but was convicted of one of the accusations for alleged illicit acts, which ended his political project. He was prevented from participating as a candidate.
“Cerrón did not want Peru Libre to lose its presence in the elections. Then he summoned a union leader of teachers, whom he met during the successful strike of 2017, Professor Pedro Castillo Terrones. Neither of them crossed their minds that Peru Libre would win the elections, “he told Clarion a leader of Peru Libre, on condition of not being identified.
“At the beginning, Castllo did not even appear among the 10 favorites, out of a score of candidates. But as the day of the vote approached, it was evident that the voters were fed up with the right-wing candidates who flooded the press and the streets with His propaganda -Keiko Fujimori, Hernando de Soto, Rafael López Aliaga, mainly-, boasting of millionaire funds, began to emerge the image of Professor Pedro Castillo, who preferred to travel to the provinces and meet with peasants and workers, and whom After offering them better their living conditions, he finished by saying: ‘Master’s word.’ That was all, “he recalled.
At that time the political program of Peru Libre, the party of Vladimir Cerrón that launched Pedro Castillo, proposed radical actions inspired by the models of Cuba and Venezuela, which was taken advantage of by the candidates of the right who called to reject the communism that Castillo represented.
Another “Chavista” regime?
But the fear campaigns about the installation of an authoritarian “Chavista regime” that sows pain and death – which included interviews with Venezuelans who escaped from the government of Nicolás Maduro and who now reside in Lima – did not prevent the triumph of Pedro Castillo in the first round.
During the ballot, it was much harder for Castillo to confront almost all of the media that devoted ample space to Keiko Fujimori to fill her with praise, in addition to being presented as the only guarantee to “save Peru from communism.”
They tried to connect the leftist candidate with the survivors of the Shining Path terrorist group, whose remnants are active in an area of the south-central part of the country, between Andean and jungle areas of the so-called Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro river valley (VRAEM).
However, neither the support of Mario Vargas Llosa, who denounced that Pedro Castillo embodied a new episode of communist authoritarianism in Latin America, nor because he publicly asked to vote for the daughter of one of his worst enemies, former President Alberto Fujimori, prevented the public school teacher won.
Then Keiko Fujimori undertook a campaign to try to win at the table what he did not get in the electoral amphorae. Without showing evidence, he denounced electoral fraud “to impose communism in our country,” was what he said.
Turn in speech
This action not only delayed the proclamation of Pedro Castillo as president-elect. He also contributed to temper his radical discourse.
To begin with, Pedro Castillo began to summon the left-wing parties Together with Peru and the Broad Front, which the founder of Peru Libre, Vladimir Cerrón, had fiercely fought.
From then on, the economist Pedro Francke, from Together for Peru, became his advisor.
Francke’s presence has been key to calm the financial markets and the business unions, starting to ensure that the Castillo government would not expropriate or make nationalization, measures characteristic of leftist governments.
Last Sunday a survey by the Institute of Peruvian Studies (IEP) was published that shows indications about the state of mind of citizens regarding the elected president Pedro Castillo.
61% believed that Castillo should maintain the economic model, but with changes. Only 15% want the model – imposed by the 1994 Constitution that emerged from an assembly with a Fujimori majority – to continue as it is.
Before during the Castillo campaign, he proposed a new Constitution, but now it is different. He says that it will be done only “if the people ask for it.”
According to the same IEP survey, 58% agree with some reforms to the Constitution, 23% want a new one.
In the last days in which Castillo fights against time to form his first cabinet, he has tried to adopt decisions typical of a head of state, apart from the leader of his party, Vladimir Cerrón.
But, Cerrón publicly shows that he coordinates with Castillo and holds meetings at his residence. The perception of citizens is that Cerrón should depart from the Executive.
Indeed, according to the IEP survey, 85% consider that Vladimir Cerrón should not be part of the Castillo government.
But Cerrón is the owner of Peru Libre, the party that brought Pedro Castillo Terrones to the presidency of Peru. And it made him remember recently when he learned of the survey that indicates that he should not be a member of the government.
He published a photograph in which Castillo and Cerrón appear shaking hands, with the message: “The unity of the Party, the government and the people guarantees true democracy. The people have brought to the government a true son of the people ”.
Maybe Pedro Castillo be more concerned about the shadow of Vladimir Cerrón than by the right-wing opposition in Congress.
When Clarion He asked the historian Carlos Parodi if he had to speak with Pedro Castillo’s students in the province of Chota, in the northern Andean region of Cajamarca, where he is from, what he would say to them. the powers that have always been relegated to the rural Sierra, which have always been relegated to them, therefore the work of Pedro Castillo will be very difficult. It will be a titanic job ”.
Lime. Special for Clarín