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Peru has a new president after Pedro Castillo was ousted for rebellionExBulletin

 


Peru has a new President this morning after President Pedro Castillo was removed from office and charged with rebellion after attempting to launch a coup.



STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Peru has a new president this morning. Authorities shot down and then arrested the former president after he tried to dissolve Congress there. A few things happened yesterday in the South American nation. President Pedro Castillo was facing impeachment. He suddenly appeared on television and said that he was closing the Congress. Lawmakers, security forces and the courts did not go along and removed him. Journalist Simeon Tegel has been covering Lima for years. He is there in the coastal capital where it all happened. Welcome to the program.

SIMEON TEGEL, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: Wow. How was it to be in Lima yesterday?

TEGEL: It was a bit of a whirlwind. We were supposed to have a debate and vote on impeachment yesterday evening, and it looked like that would be when the action took place. It looked like there weren’t enough votes to unseat Castillo, but the situation was very fluid. He is accused of many corruption charges. But then Castillo jumped the gun in the morning and suddenly gave this televised speech to the nation, saying he was dissolving Congress and the courts and was going to decide by decree and then start a constitutional assembly. He had no constitutional authority to do so. He also had no political support and, most importantly, no support from the armed forces. He must have been desperate, I think.

There is a consensus that once he was out of office, he would – and losing his presidential immunity, he would quickly end up in prison. Congress responded by bringing forward the impeachment vote. And literally within hours of this televised speech, he was impeached and officially removed from the presidency. And then a few hours after that, his car got caught in Lima traffic. Lima has terrible traffic. And he was arrested, and he spent his first night in a cell.

INSKEEP: Are you telling me that if he had done better in fighting the traffic in Lima, he could have gotten away?

TEGEL: It is a possibility. He might as well have walked away – if he had done better with his political calculations and actually waited for the original impeachment vote, he might actually have gotten away with it.

INSKEEP: Can you explain to me how you got into such trouble? He was elected a while ago. He was a leftist president, from a very modest background. I’m sure some people had high hopes for it.

TEGEL: It’s true. But to be fair, he was mostly chosen by default. He got about 15% in the first round in a very divided election with about 15 different candidates. And then in the runoff, he was facing Keiko Fujimori, the now-imprisoned former dictator’s daughter, whom most Peruvians find utterly unlikable. So it was chosen as the default. And then he found himself in a situation where there was this leftist president from a party that describes itself as Marxist-Leninist, facing a Congress with a conservative majority. And since then they have simply been at war.

INSKEEP: So what happens to him now that he’s in custody? Does he really go to jail? Does he leave the country? What’s happening?

TEGEL: Definitely not going abroad. He has been detained for 10 days on charges of insurrection and rebellion. And he’s probably looking to spend most of his life behind bars.

INSKEEP: And Dina Boluarte, the former vice president, is now the interim president. Journalist Simeon Tegel, thank you very much.

TEGEL: Thank you.

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