LIMA, Aug. 26, 2021 Peruvian President Pedro Castillo (c-front), Council of Ministers President Guido Bellido (2-front) and members of his ministerial cabinet wave in the courtyard of the Government Palace, in Lima, Per˙, Aug. 26, 2021. Bellido went to Congress on Thursday to ask for a vote of confidence for his cabinet, while urging the legislative body to work on a “political consensus” to achieve stability in the country. (Xinhua/Mariana Bazo)
By an important majority, the Peruvian Congress gave the vote of confidence to the cabinet of Guido Bellido, the Prime Minister appointed by President Pedro Castillo. There were 73 votes in favor, where the congressmen of Castillo’s party, Perú Libre, joined, together with other minor parties that support them and sectors of the center-right that preferred, at least for now, not to confront. In front, there were 50 against, led by Keiko Fujimori’s Fuerza Popular party.
This is the first great political victory scored by Castillo, a necessary victory, because if this vote of confidence had not been achieved, the president would have had to form a new cabinet, which, if rejected again, would open the process of cross death: Castillo could have dissolved the congress, thus entering another political crisis, like those repeated in recent years, and which Peruvians rejected in the streets, tired of being dominated by the politics of sectorial and personal interests, rather than the politics of the common good, so often invoked but never practiced.
In any case, this point scored by Castillo will not change the central point of the political moment in Peru, where hegemony is in open dispute, and the attack against the new government from the ultra-right and the hegemonic media achieved its first victim, none other than Castillo’s designated Chancellor, Héctor Béjar, a recognized leader of the Peruvian left.
The media took out of context a previous statement from Béjar on the role of the Peruvian Navy in the emergence of terrorism in Peru, but it was the Navy itself, which jumped on this operation, with a statement rejecting Béjar, which is a worrying sign: the Armed Forces are not supposed to give their opinion on politics. But they did and Béjar did not even complete a month in office. And in Peru the navy is synonymous with Vladimiro Montesinos, the black monk of the Fujimori dictatorship, so all the alarms must remain lit.
Nor can it be forgotten that the parliament is substantially in the hands of the traditional actors of the local oligarchy, especially in control of the commissions, such as the Constitutional Commission, which is fundamental to Castillo’s campaign promise of a National Constituent Assembly.
Castillo has in his favor the vote of the most underprivileged sectors in the cities and the majority vote in the countryside. He is backed by the appearance of these sectors, who have been neglected for decades, in the political life through the elections. But this support is always complex to express in the daily political struggle, where the times are usually set by the media and the traditional power players, who flirted with the possibility of even avoiding Castillo’s inauguration.
Government spokespersons, including the President himself, valued the vote of confidence in Parliament, but this does not safeguard the cabinet, far from it. The Prosecutor’s Office, in the hands of pro-Fujimori officials, started a “revenge” operation and promoted the police raid to four premises of the Peru Libre party in the investigation that is being carried out for a real destabilizing set-up. An attempt is being made to accuse Vladimir Cerron and Peru Libre for a notorious case known as “Los Dinamicos del Centro”, an alleged criminal network related to the irregular issuance of driver’s licenses in the Junin region.
For this crude set-up, all that was needed -as it happened in other countries where progressive or leftist leaders were persecuted- was a couple of prosecutors well paid by the networks of the pro-Fujimori right wing and the support of all the media related to the destabilizing right wing.
The president of the parliament provided lyrics to the media right wing, declaring that Castillo’s cabinet is “a cabinet of confrontation”. This strategy is not new, it is used by the right wing throughout Latin America: accusing the left or progressivism of creating a gap in society, when in fact the same right wing is responsible for the real gap: the inequality of opportunities and the distribution of wealth in each country.
That is the struggle in Peru and in all Latin America. It is still too early to know if the beleaguered Castillo government will have enough momentum in this fundamental fight, which in one way or another, and sooner rather than later, will need popular support that cannot give way and will have to be expressed in the streets.
Marcos Salgado: Argentine journalist of the founding team of Telesur. Correspondent for HispanTv, editor of Questiondigital.com. Analyst associated with the Latin American Center for Strategic Analysis (CLAE, estrategia.la).
Translation by Internationalist 360°