Boluarte the Peruvian government39s weakened strategy to weather the crisis

Boluarte, the Peruvian government's weakened strategy to weather the crisis


June 3, 2024 8:38 p.m

An alleged corruption scandal has deprived Peruvian President Dina Boluarte of her chief of staff and righthand man. But even without his strongest support, with the economy in the red and unfavorable polls, analysts believe it is unlikely that his turbulent tenure will not end in 2026.

Boluarte, whose popularity in polls does not exceed 10% and who does not have his own party in a Congress controlled by the right and the far right, counted on Alberto Otárola as a skillful political operator.

But above all as his squire in the face of investigations into the suppression of protests against his takeover of power in 2022, when, according to international human rights organizations, around fifty demonstrators died as a result of the use of state forces.

It was Otárola, as defense minister and later prime minister, who proposed the repressive strategy against leftwing groups that opposed the dismissal of Pedro Castillo, the arrested and prosecuted former president who unsuccessfully tried to dissolve parliament.

Boluarte, until then his discreet vice president, seized power in a country that had recently been marked by instability.

How is the government surviving the protests and scandal? Here are some keys:

1 May everything stay the same

Otárola, a 57yearold lawyer, was forced to leave the government after a scandal over the publication of audio recordings in which he referred to a woman under 30 as “love” and last year contracts with the state worth around US$69 Dollar received a thousand reais, in an alleged case of influence peddling that the now former prime minister denies.

In his place this Wednesday was the centerright lawyer Gustavo Adrianzén, Peru's former representative to the Organization of American States (OAS).

The president “got a prime minister very similar to Alberto Otárola. I assume that there will be no significant substantive changes,” analyst Augusto Alvarez Rodrich told AFP.

The fact that Adrianzén is the only new face in an 18member cabinet of ministers after the recent scandal “gives the impression that only the main character has been changed, so nothing changes.” And as was the case with Otárola, he will be the counterweight to the congressional benches,” he adds.

“May everything change so that everything stays the same,” summarizes Rodrich.

2 Coexistence and convenience

Therefore, with the arrival of Adrianzén, the president wants to avoid clashes with the legislature at all costs.

Since 2017, Peru has had six presidents, two of whom were removed from office by Congress; two who resigned before suffering the same fate; One who ended his short transition period of eight months and Boluarte who refused to resign or bring forward the elections despite bloody protests.

“It is very likely that Dina Boluarte will finish her term because the opposition on the street has no interest in removing her and because there is also no interest in Congress from the various left or right sides.” They all want to “Complete their legislative period in July 2026,” says analyst José Carlos Requena.

Until that date, all forces will try to maintain a tacit coalition government. In practice, Boluarte still has “the support of Congress and I don’t think the opposition will grow,” he concludes.

According to the analyst, “the big incentive for Congress not to move the waves is its own survival.” Dissolving the chamber in March 2024 and bringing forward elections in the event of a crisis or conflict is not a scenario supported by the majority of parliamentarians is desired, only a minority wants new elections.”

3 Human Rights and Economy

Boluarte's weak point remains his negative human rights record following the suppression of protests.

“The fall of Otárola may cause human rights organizations to intensify their criticism of the government, but I do not think they will be enough to threaten the continued existence of the regime,” says Requena.

On the other hand, the economy is also unlikely to fuel popular discontent, even though the country has been in recession since 2023.

Indicators for 2024 predict improvements and inflation is on track to remain in the expected annual range below 3.0%.

“The people of Peru will not mobilize for anything, they have lost confidence in the protests, the economy is improving in terms of investments and there will be improvements in the second half of the year,” says analyst Augusto Alvarez.

Although the Peruvian economy has moved from one crisis to the next, it has proven resilient with an informal share of 70%. Today, the Peruvian currency is practically the same price as before the scandal (1 dollar is worth 3.77 soles).

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