Peru’s Congress, dominated by the right-wing opposition, on Friday granted a vote of confidence to the ministerial cabinet of the new left-wing president Pedro Castillo. The president thus managed to remain firm in his post after a series of setbacks since his inauguration, a month ago.
After a harsh debate that began on Thursday, the cabinet headed by the engineer Guido Bellido managed to 73 votes in favor and 50 against, without abstentions. He needed 63 to survive (out of 124 MPs present in the session).
“As a result, the question of trust has been approved,” declared the head of Congress, opposition member María del Carmen Alva, after the vote.
After overcoming the first test of his mandate that began on July 28, Castillo thanked Congress on Twitter and affirmed that “the search for consensus will allow us to govern together with the people and for the development of public policies of a social nature.”
If the vote had been rejected, Castillo would have had to appoint another prime minister, replacing Bellido, and reorganize the cabinet.
This would affect the government agenda and would prolong the uncertainty that exists in Peru since the beginning of the year, when the electoral campaign started, and that is affecting the economy.
Mainly the benches of the ultra-conservative Renovación Popular and Fuerza Popular party, the populist right-wing formation led by Keiko Fujimori, the candidate defeated by Castillo in the June 6 ballot, voted against it.
In the debate, the Fujimori legislator Eduardo Castillo had called for a vote against, claiming that it was “a highly questioned cabinet, linked to front groups (of the defeated Maoist guerrilla) of the Shining Path,” which spread terror in Peru between 1980 and 2000.
These types of statements against Castillo and his allies were common during the electoral campaign.
The harsh debate It began on Thursday morning, after Bellido presented the government’s plans in the hemicycle, but the session was suspended after 11 hours and resumed this Friday.
Bellido said that the “immediate objectives are to defeat the pandemic produced by covid-19 and reactivate our economy,” without mentioning Castillo de Castillo’s main electoral promise. summon a constituent assembly, a proposal resisted by its adversaries.
Uncertainty over the cabinet has affected the economy, making raise the dollar and fall the bag, after a five-year period of clashes between the Executive and the Legislature, which led the country to have three presidents in a few days, in November 2020.
Analyst Augusto Álvarez Rodrich had predicted that the government would pass the test.
“The government has the votes to obtain confidence,” the analyst told the AFP agency, explaining that Congress was seeking to avoid fueling the confrontation with the Executive.
“Congress does not want to give the government tools so that it can dissolve it so quickly, when it just began its five-year term,” Álvarez Rodrich said before the debate.
If legislators deny the vote of confidence to the same government twice, the Constitution empowers the president to dissolve Congress and call new parliamentary elections.
Quechua and Aymara in Parliament
Disputes between the new government and the opposition cost Foreign Minister Héctor Béjar his job 10 days ago. He was replaced by Óscar Maúrtua, a career diplomat with no ties to the left who held that position in 2006.
However, Castillo’s rivals expected him to make more changes to his cabinet before submitting to the vote of confidence, something that the president rejected. Bellido’s own appointment was highly questioned by the opposition.
The head of Parliament announced at the beginning of the session on Friday that it would be possible to speak in Quechua, as there would be a translation into Spanish. On Thursday she interrupted Bellido and asked him to speak only in Spanish when he began his presentation by saying hello in Quechua and Aymara.
Bellido continued his presentation in Spanish, but stressed that Quechua and Aymara are also official languages in Peru.
In his final presentation this Friday, minutes before the vote, Bellido sent another greeting in Quechua and then said in Spanish: “I am obliged to vindicate all of them (the original peoples of Peru), no matter what happens along the way.” .
Quechua – the language of the ancient Incas – and Aymara are spoken daily by five million of the 33 million Peruvians.