Leftist Pedro Castillo was sworn in yesterday as Peru’s fifth president in three years on the 200th anniversary of the country’s independence, vowing an end to corruption and a new constitution.
“I swear by God, by my family, by the peasants, by the indigenous peoples, by the ronderos (peasant patrols), fishers, professionals, children, adolescents, that I will exercise the office of President of the Republic,” the 51-year-old rural schoolteacher declared. “I swear by the people of Peru for a country without corruption and for a new constitution.”
Castillo assumes the presidency with little time to catch his breath as he battles the world’s deadliest coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, tensions in his socialist party, and weak congressional support in a starkly divided nation.
He won a June 6 ballot won by a margin of just 44,000 votes.
His inauguration was attended by heads of state and senior ministers from around the region, including Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera, Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez, Bolivia’s President Luis Arce, the king of Spain, a US delegation, and the Cuban foreign minister.
The abrupt rise of Castillo, a former teacher, has shaken Peru’s traditional political elite and stung copper producers fearful of his plans to hike taxes on mining to fund health and education reforms, and revamp the Andean nation’s constitution.
All eyes will be on his first message as president and the make-up of his cabinet of ministers, still under wraps amid horse trading between the radical wing of his Marxist Free Peru party and moderate advisers and allies.
The swearing in of the new cabinet had been due to take place shortly after Castillo’s inauguration, but his party announced yesterday morning that it would be delayed until tomorrow, potentially disappointing investors watching developments closely.
“Castillo’s message will set the guidelines for the start of his government. But the cabinet and team he announces will tell us even more about the direction we’re headed in,” said Jeffrey Radzinsky, a Lima-based governance expert.
The inauguration comes after Castillo edged out rival Keiko Fujimori, though his win was not confirmed until last week.
Fujimori had alleged fraud with no evidence and challenged the result, gaining comparisons with Donald Trump’s tactics after he lost the 2020 election.
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