A strange and unusual political development in Peru this afternoon. From out the blue this morning, President Hat announced his intention to address the country’s Congress and he’s currently in the way to the building, accompanied by his Veep and Prime Minister. This is a very unusual step, way outside the normal protocol of Peruvian political life and is likely connected to the fact that Congress last night reached quorum on a debate to impeach him on the grounds of “moral incapacity” (the same thing that did for Martín Vizcarra in 2020). Nobody outside his ministerial cabinet knows the exact reason for this afternoon’s call to address Congress, but the rumour now doing the rounds is that he’s about to call early elections, which would effectively mean his resignation. Your author will update this post once he’s done talking and we know what’s on his mind.
UPDATE: President Pedro Castillo just served Peru’s Congress a large Nothingburger, no fries. He stood up in front of Congress and made a sort of ad-hoc State of the Nation speech, calling unity and underscoring the positive points of his government to date, starting with the Covid-19
vacunation vaccination (ugh, Spanglish) campaign and droning on for an hour and bits. He declared a State of Emergency for the nation’s agricultural sector due to the sharp rise in prices for fertilizers, patted himself on the back for getting the country’s schools back open again this week, informed Congress on his government’s progress against narcotrafficking etc, made a big “I am not corrupt” statement and at the end, announced he would sent a law project to Congress that would aim to get parliament and executive working on the same page in a National Agreement. Long story short, Castillo talked up his government’s achievements on a laundry list of points, the type of speech that Peruvian presidents give to Congress on its July 28th Independence Day, not at some random date in March. Aside from it being an attempt at self-defence before next week’s impeachment debate begins, it’s a mystery to this desk and to many others as to why this event happened. His purpose seems to have been to add his voice to the Congressional debate on his own fate and maybe, he thinks this type of proactive defence will stop the attack and stop the impeachment debate from prospering. Strange and naive, as the result is likely to be to annoy Congress even further rather than bring it onside with the executive. Another weird day in paradise.
UPDATE 2: This evening we got an explanation for the strangeness around today’s speechifying. His Prime Minister, Anibal Torres, told press later that although it was in his plans, the President decided not to announce early elections “at the last minute.” Instead, he told his PM he’d make one more attempt at reaching a level of peace and coexistence with Congress. In other words, the end is nigh.