How Peru Plunged Into Political Crisis

Read Time:5 Minute, 13 Second

Peru’s political crisis can be traced back to the controversial impeachment of former president Martín Vizcarra in November 2020, who was accused of accepting bribes. The impeachment was seen by many as a power grab by the opposition-led Congress, which had clashed repeatedly with Vizcarra during his tenure.

Vizcarra was succeeded by Manuel Merino, a little-known politician who was quickly rejected by many Peruvians due to his lack of legitimacy and links to the previous government. This led to widespread protests across the country, with thousands taking to the streets to demand his resignation.

Merino’s government responded with force, leading to violent clashes between protesters and police, and the deaths of two demonstrators. After just five days in office, Merino was forced to step down, and Congress appointed Francisco Sagasti as interim president.

However, the crisis continued, with Sagasti facing ongoing protests, a deeply divided Congress, and a fragile economy devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, allegations of corruption and abuse of power continued to dog Peru’s political establishment, with several high-profile figures implicated in scandals.

As a result, Peru’s political future remains uncertain, with many Peruvians calling for sweeping reforms to address the underlying causes of the crisis, including corruption, inequality, and the lack of trust in the country’s institutions.


Background

Vizcarra first came to power in March 2018 when his predecessor resigned amid allegations of corruption. At that time, he appeared to be a reformer who inherited a tense political atmosphere and faced both domestic and international challenges. Despite these obstacles, he was able to pass reforms such as an anti-corruption package and measures aimed at reducing poverty—the latter of which included raising wages for teachers and other public sector employees.

This period of relative peace did not last long though; tensions began to mount due to disagreements between Vizcarra and Congress over proposed reforms that sought to limit congressional immunity from prosecution. Relations further deteriorated when Vizcarra dissolved Congress in September 2019 over allegations that legislators had attempted to interfere with investigations into corrupt activities. On November 9th, 2020 Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of impeaching Vizcarra on corruption charges, suspending him from office until 2021 and paving the way for an interim president.

What Now?

The current situation leaves many questions unanswered: what will happen next? Will the new interim president be able to restore order and unity? How will Peru escape this constitutional crisis? While these are difficult questions with no clear answers, it’s important that citizens stay informed and involved as developments unfold throughout this tumultuous period in Peruvian history.

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