Pedro Castillo has been sworn-in as Peru’s fifth president in three years Wednesday on the 200th anniversary of the country’s independence, promising an end to corruption and a new constitution.
The 51-year-old rural schoolteacher, who has vowed to upend a quarter century of neo-liberal government, enters the job with a lengthy to-do list: tame the coronavirus epidemic, reactivate a flagging economy and end years of political turmoil.
“I swear by the people of Peru for a country without corruption and for a new constitution,” he declared before Congress, coming back to a campaign promise to change Peru’s free-market friendly founding law.
The existing charter is a relic of ex-president Alberto Fujimori, serving jail time for corruption and crimes against humanity, and father of Castillo’s main presidential rival, the right-wing populist Keiko Fujimori.
Insisting Peru could not “remain a prisoner” of the 1993 constitution, Castillo said he would send a bill to parliament with a view to organizing a referendum on replacing it.
Castillo’s Free Peru party does not enjoy a majority in a fragmented congress, holding 37 of the 130 seats. Fujimori’s Popular Force party has 24.
Castillo was declared the victor on July 19 for a five-year term — more than six weeks after a runoff race against Fujimori, whose allegations of voter fraud then had to be reviewed by an electoral jury.
Wednesday’s swearing-in was attended by Spanish King Felipe VI, five Latin American leaders, former Bolivian president Evo Morales and the United States education secretary, among other guests.
Some 10,000 police officers were deployed in the capital Lima, and hundreds of Castillo voters came out waving banners in a show of support.