LIMA ( Associated Press) – Peruvian President Pedro Castillo has abandoned his habitual silence after submitting to six tax investigations, one of which accused him of leading a money laundering network, and himself in the past two weeks. Began to besiege farmers, rural officials. Areas and neighborhood leaders.
In their meetings he usually reminds them in front of television cameras that his government is the first to listen to him in two centuries of the republic and that the prosecution, the Congress—dominated by the opposition—and part of the press are a triumvirate that seeks to remove Is it from power…
He also began traveling to remote provinces wearing a bulletproof vest and assured that Peru was going through a “completely racist era” and that the elite wanted to undermine him because he came from the countryside.
“I don’t speak like them, I don’t sit at those grand tables like them,” he complained in his thick Andean accent in a desert town. In another neighborhood, in front of the mothers of a recently reinstated school, he insisted that he came from the bottom and that the charges against him were not going to “break him.”
Fernando Tuesta, a professor of political science at Peru’s Pontifical Catholic University, told The Associated Press that the president adopted the strategy after maintaining a timid and elusive stance during his first year in office that “the best defense is attack”.
“It has changed aggressively” with a speech that condemned the “coup attempt” by the opposition political parties that lead the Congress, Tuesta said.
On 28 July, Castillo said in parliament that since he took office he has not had “a minute’s truce” and that he received “a slap on the cheek” from the parties that lost the presidential election, but speculated that he would now Will not “turn the other cheek” but will instead proceed to work with Congress. The legislators did not allow him to complete his speech and demanded his resignation.
Opposition in the Legislature ignored his election victory and created a commission to investigate possible fraud, which was dismissed after 10 months for lack of evidence. He later tried to remove him twice, but he did not reach the necessary 87 votes.
Two weeks ago, the speaker of parliament, Lady Camones, said the ideal political scenario would be for Castillo to resign after meeting with Attorney General Patricia Benavides, whose management has promoted most of the investigations against the president.
“People are not going to drag themselves along like they did during 200 years of republic life. This is another city that has already woken up and knows how to defend its rights, even with its life,” Prime Minister Anibal Torres told Castillo in a meeting with neighborhood leaders. Told.
It is the first time that a sitting president has been investigated in Peru, where almost all leaders of the past two decades have been under investigation for corruption. In 2016 bribery admitted by the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht to win public construction tenders almost throughout Latin America prompted an investigation in Peru. Since then, Peruvians have seen for the first time people considered untouchables being arrested.
Castillo rose to power after these scandals. In 2021, 88% of Peruvians believed that more than half or all politicians were corrupt, according to the Americas Barometer survey coordinated by Vanderwilt University. The belief of Peruvians is the highest in Latin America.
The prime minister has questioned the attorney general’s integrity, saying his sister, Judge Emma Benavides, is being investigated for allegedly being part of a group of magistrates who freed drug traffickers in exchange for money.
The attorney general replaced a prominent prosecutor who was investigating his sister and removed members of the public ministry who were investigating from another group of judges. He also took over from a prosecutor who has charged a wealthy Peruvian family under investigation by the DEA and the Mexican Attorney General’s Office for drug trafficking money laundering.
When questioned, the attorney general replied that “she is making arrangements at home” and that she had decided to make changes to the various tax offices because there were reports of low production. He also argued that a campaign was being run to defame it.
Prosecutors have outlined the organization chart of a money laundering clan allegedly led by the president, including the minister of transportation, the mayor of the city where Castillo lived, his wife and his three-year-old sister-in-law, Yennefer Paredes, whom the couple called their president. Raised as a daughter from a young age after the death of the mother.
Last week, Colonel Harvey Colchado—who directs key prisoners—appeared at the door of the presidential palace with other agents with a warrant to arrest Jennifer Paredes. They entered more than 16 rooms, including the president’s bedroom, where they checked closets and under Castillo’s bed, as well as the room of the president’s 17-year-old son, Arnold, who was sleeping in his pajamas. They searched warehouses, the kitchen, the chapel, the swimming pool, the security room and even a warehouse where the president’s gifts are kept, but they did not find Yenneparedes, according to the search report reviewed by the Associated Press.
The next day, the 26-year-old woman turned up at the prosecutor’s office, accompanied by dozens of farmers who came in support of the president.
“They don’t care about breaking up the family. They don’t care about leaving our children orphans, a situation designed with the aim of breaking us,” Castillo said shortly afterwards.
The president has not explained any of the allegations and two weeks ago took refuge in silence during a questioning before the attorney general.
“He is in serious trouble,” said Professor Tuesta.
Although it is early for predictions, Castillo’s change in communication style has increased his popularity for the first time since the beginning of his term, according to several polls. Castillo’s approval rose five points to 25% in an August poll by Ipsos Peru, while his negative image fell from 74% to 69%.
Francisco Huaman, a grocery store owner, said Castillo’s new attitude was a matter of political survival. “It intends to show how it gets support from the population. Why didn’t you do it earlier?” The man claimed to have voted for Castillo, but is dismayed by his alleged dishonesty. “He thought he could steal and no one would find out,” he said.
Others still trust the president. Maruja Incilla, an indigenous environmental activist who has for years condemned the pollution of Lake Titicaca, sacred to the Incas, supports the president but affirms that he should listen to the advice of those who tell him to surround himself with honest people. It is said for
He said, “Those who say ‘everything is right’ are doing them harm… If there is constructive criticism, they need not feel bad.” Those who are really looking for change will come with that honesty and they will also build trust by listening to them.