The leftist governments of Mexico, Argentina and Colombia threw their support behind Pedro Castillo, the Peruvian leader impeached last week, adding a new twist to the crisis that has paralyzed swathes of the country and left several protesters dead.
The three countries, as well as Bolivia, issued a joint statement late Monday calling on Peru to respect the rights of Castillo, who they refer to as Peru’s president even after he was ousted by congress.
The governments expressed their “profound concern for the recent events that resulted in the removal and the detention of President Pedro Castillo.”
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said relations with Peru would be “paused” until the political situation is resolved. Castillo won the 2021 election “and he can’t be dismissed,” he said in his regular morning press conference Tuesday.
Since he was elected, Castillo has been the victim of an “anti-democratic persecution” the four governments said, adding that the will of the Peruvian people must be respected.
While the statement stops short of calling for Castillo’s reinstatement, it complicates the attempts of the six-day old government of President Dina Boluarte, to establish its authority. The four Latin American nations are ideological allies of Castillo, who was impeached and then arrested on December 7 after he attempted to dissolve congress.
Peru’s Foreign Affairs Ministry rejected the position of the neighbouring nations, saying Peru’s transition of power followed the constitutional order and that Castillo’s decision to shut Congress amounted to a coup d’état. On December 9, the Boluarte administration warned Mexico not to interfere in Peru’s internal affairs.
Violence and uncertainty
As political uncertainty and violence spread across the country, the Boluarte government announced its intention of calling for early elections in April 2024, two years ahead of schedule. Castillo’s supporters are asking for his release from the police base where he is being detained on the outskirts of Lima.
A fresh vote may represent a way out of the impasse, said Alexandra Ames, a Lima-based political scientist.
“At this moment all routes point to early elections and a major reform,” possibly including changes to the constitution, Ames said.
At least seven demonstrators have been killed in clashes with security forces, according to La República newspaper, while police said 15 of their officers were injured by an explosive.
The airports of Arequipa, Andahuaylas and Cusco are shut, as well as the train line connecting Cusco to the archaeological site of Machu Picchu, according to PeruRail.
Dozens of highways remain blocked in northern, eastern and southern regions, police said, hurting commerce in the world’s second-largest copper producer.
Freeport-McMoRan Inc, operator of the Cerro Verde copper mine, said it’s experiencing some delays in transport of people, supplies and product due to the protests, according to an emailed response to questions.
Peru’s dollar and local currency bonds gained on Tuesday, in line with the rally in emerging-market assets following lower than-expected US inflation. The sol gained against the dollar in early trading while nation’s benchmark stock index edged higher.
by Matthew Bristow & Stephan Kueffner, Bloomberg