2022 coup in Peru

In December 2022, there were dramatic events in Peru as its elected president, Pedro Cas­ti­llo, was abruptly removed from office (impeached by Con­gress) and replaced by his vice-president, Dina Boluarte. The overthrowers’ claim was that Cas­ti­llo had been carrying out a “self-coup” by moving to dissolve Con­gress, so they were merely “restoring democracy” by replacing his democratically-elected person with themselves.

As of time of writing, Pedro Cas­ti­llo has been sitting in jail ever since, awaiting trial on charges of “rebellion”, while there have been mass protests on the part of the Peruvian working class, students, and most prominently the country’s rural, indigenous population (largely working in the informal sector), demanding Cas­ti­llo’s release and fresh elections. As of 15 January, 47 people have been killed by military forces (including a doctor who wasn’t even protesting, just walking by at the wrong time), and more than 500 injured. After initially insisting she’d serve out the entirety of Cas­ti­llo’s term (until 2026), Bol­uar­te backed down and said she’d ask Con­gress to authorise new elections in 2024. The protesters are not satisfied with this, and demand immediate fresh elections.

Some of the background to this coup: like Chile, Peru currently suffers under a constitution put in place by their late 20th century dictator, Alberto Fujimori; there’s immense public pressure to replace this constitution with something more democratic, but the right-wing are resistant.

That same right-wing controls most of the news media (sounds similar to Rupert Murdoch’s control over our media, but even more virulent) as well as the police force, upper echelons of the state bureaucracy, and the Con­gress (which, as of Dec ‘22, has an 11% approval rating). Pedro Castillo was elected Pres­i­dent in 2021, campaigning on a platform of nationalisations and significant social and economic reforms. The Peruvian Right has never accepted the legitimacy of his election, and constantly insult him as a rural Indigenous person from an impoverished area who is therefore inherently unfit to be the President. They’ve stonewalled him constantly in Con­gress, and left him unable to pass much of anything, even as he tried to water his reforms down and down and down to the point they were barely anything. From the sounds of things, it also sounds like the current constitution (at least until recently) permits both the Con­gress to remove the president in the case of “moral incapacity” (whatever that means), and the president to remove the Con­gress in the event that Congress is completely unworkable. The Pres­i­dent tried to move first, calling for elections for a Con­sti­tu­tion­al Ass­em­bly to draft a new constitution, but Con­gress struck back hard enough to win. I also read another article saying that Con­gress had recently changed the constitution (which apparently they can do just by fiat, with no referendum) to eliminate the president’s power to do that. Also, not only did they throw Cas­ti­llo in jail, but they’d apparently already imprisoned his daughter in jail as some kind of attempted hostage situation (?!).

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