Pedro Castillo, New President of Peru

By Alberto Giovanelli


Pedro Castillo took office as President of the Republic on July 28, surrounded by almost all the presidents of Latin America and the King of Spain.

After numerous delays after winning the second electoral round, the new president finally takes office amid the commemorations of the Bicentennial of Peru’s Independence, and a health, economic and institutional crisis that has plagued the country since the first quarter of 2017 and has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as we have detailed in previous articles.

Castillo, who won the elections by just over 44,000 votes, had to wait more than a month before being officially proclaimed the next president of Peru after his rival, Keiko Fujimori, accused him of electoral fraud and challenged him in court.

Castillo will immediately face great challenges in institutional, health and economic issues. For this, he will have to deal with a clear opposition majority in Congress, which surely threatens to obstruct and extort his administration and seek reasons to provoke his vacancy (resignation).

During all these weeks Castillo has tried to calm the atmosphere and reassure the traditional powers that have always governed the country, amid a climate of uncertainty about the course that the Peruvian economy will follow under his mandate.

Among those “reassuring” announcements, two stand out: first, the appointment of Pedro Francke as Minister of the Economy, a man who enjoys “respect and appreciation” in the business environment; second, the request to Julio Velaverde, president of the Central Bank, to continue at the head of the institution, as in the last 15 years, to “guarantee its independence.”

With this backfrop, President Pedro Castillo begins his administration full of controversies and discrepancies inside and outside his political movement, with a Congress dominated by the opposition and highly fragmented. He is already receiving criticism for the makeup of his cabinet, especially for the appointment of Guido Bellido, from the Peru Libre party, as Chief of Ministers. This appointment delayed the assumption of Frencke for example, which already reflects the internal tensions with which the new government will operate.

Both situations could hinder his main campaign promises, starting with the one that tops his list: the push for a Constituent Assembly.

In a country where three out of 10 live in poverty and more than 70% of workers belong to the informal market, the changes that are expected cannot be delayed without the new government quickly confronting the popular mobilizations that will demand that campaign promises be met. That is why it is very important to ratify the call for a Constituent Assembly that Castillo made during his first speech, and to try to put an end to the Fujimorist Constitution of 93, that institutional corset that works as reassurance that all possible changes be mere cosmetic and none is of substance, as demandad by the situation faced by workers in the country and the city.

Contradictorily, the expression of “new popular market economy”, to which Frencke made numerous references, would seem to be a way of reassuring the sectors of concentrated power and imperialism, and we could advance in defining it as a mixture of the experiences of the governments of Rafael Correa in Ecuador and Evo Morales in Bolivia, but in a world situation quite different from the one that prevailed when they governed.

Today the structural exhaustion of capitalism in its world expression and its regional manifestation, as we have been able to appreciate lately in the massive mobilizations in Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, Haiti or Peru itself, in which the common denominator is the rejection of the policies of austerity leaves no room for apparent changes or negotiations beneficial to both the local bourgeoisie and the peoples who seek to survive this crisis.

Thus Castillo, who, as we have said, holds absolutely retrograde positions on the issues of gender, abortion and social demands, to which we now add the announcement of persecution of foreigners behind the vague announcement of “expelling criminals from other countries,” has in recent days called the parties that confronted him during the elections to “dialogue and national unity,” running the risk of assuming a course that will almost inevitably lead him to clash with his own electoral base that chose him precisely to do the opposite.

The government will face an iron dilemma: it will either rely on the mobilization of its own electoral base or yield to the parties and personalities that are agents of the bourgeoisie and imperialism, which as “collaborators” of the new government will try to neutralize the desire for change that was expressed in the streets and at the polls.

The ISL (International Socialist League) advocates unity for the demands of those who have never ruled and we encourage the emergence of new anti-capitalist organizations that aim to impose on the street the inevitable course that will have to be taken to respond to the demands of Peruvian workers of the country and the city.