Peru’s prime minister Mirtha Vásquez resigned on Monday after less than four months in the job, plunging the turbulent leftwing government of president Pedro Castillo into a fresh crisis.
In her resignation letter, Vásquez said it was no longer possible to find consensus within cabinet. In a clear swipe at the president, she also hit out at “the executive”, saying that “doubts and indecision are unacceptable”.
Castillo responded by saying he would reshuffle his cabinet and assemble “a new team”, suggesting that he was expecting further ministerial changes.
The chaos in the government, which has left Castillo looking for his third prime minister after just six months in power, has dented business confidence and weakened Peru’s currency, the sol.
Castillo has been widely criticised for flip-flopping on policy and for making statements he has later had to retract or qualify. He has already survived one impeachment attempt and is likely to face others, while his approval rating has plummeted from a peak of about 40 per cent in September to about 25 per cent.
A farmer and schoolteacher from a poor, remote village in Peru’s northern highlands, Castillo had no previous experience of public office when he won the country’s election in June.
His administration has been plagued by controversy from the start, when he named the Marxist hardliner Guido Bellido as his prime minister. Bellido lasted just 69 days before being replaced by Vásquez.
Several other members of Castillo’s cabinet have left since: a foreign minister quit over his comments about Shining Path, the Maoist group that terrorised Peru in the 1980s and 1990s; an interior minister was axed for hosting a raucous party despite coronavirus restrictions he signed into law; and a defence minister quit in a scandal over promotions within the armed forces.
On Sunday, Castillo accepted the resignation of his third interior minister and sacked the head of the police force in a row over promotions and retirements within the service.
Vásquez said the dispute at the interior ministry was part of the reason she quit, and she alleged “possible acts of corruption” carried out by “high-level officials within this [Castillo’s] administration”.
Castillo did not immediately respond to the corruption allegations.