Peru’s left-wing president Pedro Castillo on Wednesday ousted his divided prime minister, Guido Belido, and removed himself from the Marxist party that helped him stay in power, announcing a significant cabinet reshuffle.
For his bold move since taking office in late July, Castillo Bellido has been replaced by Mirtha Vasquez, a young former congresswoman and center-left who does not belong to the Marxist Free Peru Party.
The president has made six other changes, including the important Ministry of Mines, where he appointed businessman Eduardo Gonzalez. Iber Maravi, the hardline Labor Minister of Free Per, was fired along with Belido.
The number of women in the cabinet has increased from two to five.
Finance Minister Pedro Frank has been confirmed for his job.
In a brief, televised speech, Castillo said he had “decided to make some decisions in favor of the regime” and that “this is the time to put Peru above all ideological and separatist party pressures.”
Belido said he did not know why he was forced but assumed that Castillo had acted “according to his beliefs and political standards.”
“It simply came to our notice then. “All we know is that today the President has asked us to submit our resignation letter and we have immediately accepted that request,” he told a news conference.
Belido was Castillo’s most controversial member of the cabinet.
A Marxist Congressman, he has in the past expressed sympathy for the Maoist guerrilla group Shining Path. On several occasions, he sought to justify the actions of rebels whose wars with the state killed 70,000 people in the 1980s and 1990s.
While Castillo was in the United States last month trying to persuade potential investors to come to Peru, Belido told foreign owners of the country’s largest natural gas project that they should hand over most of their profits to the state or face nationalization.
Bellido further suggested that Congress should be prepared to shut down if the government tries to condemn the president’s impeachment or government ministers.
His departure is the second in just 70 days since Castillo’s order began to deteriorate and improve.
In August, the 85-year-old foreign minister, a former leftist guerrilla who defended the rule of Cuba and Venezuela, resigned just 19 days later when he claimed the Shining Path was “essentially a product of CIA service.”
Castillo won the June election against all odds, arguably the most far-left president in Peru’s history.
A rural primary school teacher with almost no political experience and no party of his own, he stood as a candidate for the Free Per. Kerillo or his ideological supporters – Peruvians and foreigners alike are watching to see who is in power.
When Castillo hired Belido on his first full day in office, it felt like Free Peru had a hand.
Since then, Castillo has sent mixed signals about the direction Peru wants to take, one of Latin America’s fastest-growing economies of the century and a major producer of copper, gold, silver and other metals.
The centrists have called on Castillo to distance himself from the Marxists, while the right has threatened to impeach him if he tries to go ahead with his more radical proposals, including rewriting the constitution.
Free Peru’s Cuban-trained leader Vladimir Seren Belidore has expressed regret over his departure, Saying it marked “before and after”.
Before Castillo named the new cabinet, Ceren tweeted that the president must choose between “conservatives and revolutionaries” and stressed that the new party should not include “rightists, bourgeois leftists and traitors.”
“Now is the time to demand a free share of Peru’s power.” He tweeted.