Peru’s new President Dina Boluarte moved to ease diplomatic tensions on Tuesday, saying she will talk with regional leaders who have come to her jailed predecessor’s defense, after her Mexican counterpart announced a pause in relations with Peru.
Former President Pedro Castillo was ousted and then arrested last week after lawmakers in the opposition-controlled Congress voted to remove him from power shortly after he illegally sought to dissolve Congress to avoid a third impeachment vote.
On Tuesday morning, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador criticized the removal of fellow leftist Castillo as undemocratic.
“The will of the people who elected (Castillo) should be respected,” Lopez Obrador told reporters at a regular government news conference, arguing that Castillo won a free election last year and cannot be removed.
On Monday, the governments of Mexico, Bolivia, Colombia and Argentina issued a joint statement calling for the protection of Castillo’s human and judicial rights, and labeled him “a victim of undemocratic harassment.”
Boluarte, previously the vice president under Castillo, responded on Tuesday, defending Castillo’s ouster as lawful due to what she described as his attempted coup. She told reporters that she will call Lopez Obrador, as well as the presidents of the other three signatories of the statement, to discuss the matter.
“Diplomatic relations remain the same with these brother nations,” she said.
But Boluarte also said that Argentine President Alberto Fernandez called to congratulate her last week, expressing confusion as to why his government signed on to Monday’s critical statement.
Lopez Obrador often argues that he follows a policy of non-intervention in the affairs of other countries.
But on Tuesday the Mexican leader stressed that for now he will recognize Castillo as Peru’s leader.
“Relations are on hold as we wait to see what happens,” he said. “Hopefully a democratic solution can be found.”
Meanwhile, across Peru angry protests continued, leaving at least seven dead, including several teenagers, all victims of gunfire.
Protesters argue that Boluarte should step down, the Congress dissolved, and a fresh election called.
On Tuesday, Boluarte proposed bringing elections forward even earlier than her proposal from last week.
She said then they could take place in April 2024, two years ahead of elections currently scheduled for 2026, but on Tuesday said she will work with Congress to move them up even earlier but without proposing a specific date.