By Marco Aquino
LIMA – Peruvian President Pedro Castillo survived on Monday an impeachment vote in Congress that fell short of the votes needed to oust the leftist leader eight months after he took office.
Overall, 55 lawmakers out of 130 in the unicameral Congress voted in favor of the impeachment. Congress needed 87 votes to oust Castillo.
The result will avoid a new political crisis in the short term although Castillo’s administration has been turbulent anyway, with four Cabinets in less than a year in office.
Castillo, a former teacher from a peasant farming family who shot to prominence when he narrowly won election last year, has been facing accusations of graft that he strongly denies. He survived an attempt to impeach him late last year.
“Unfortunately, a bid to oust me through impeachment has become the central axis of the political and journalistic agenda since my election; this cannot continue,” Castillo said in a speech to lawmakers before the vote.
He said he had not broken the law since taking office and called for unity to deal with the political and economic crisis, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as exacerbating problems in the world’s second biggest copper-producing country.
“I am aware we all make mistakes and have defects, but I am loyal to my commitments, values and principles,” he said. “Members of Congress, I ask that you vote for democracy, vote for Peru, vote against instability.”
Still, Castillo is facing a plummeting approval rating, which is hovering around 25%, according to an IEP poll published over the weekend.
In a sign of the pressure Castillo is under, prosecutors earlier in the day raided the homes of some of his former officials and relatives who are under investigation for alleged corruption.
Protesters took to the streets in Lima, the capital, over the weekend calling for Castillo to be voted out of office.
“People can’t take it anymore. We are fed up, the people demand justice and all the corrupt people to be gone,” said one protester, Claudia Iriarte.
The Andean country has had five presidents since 2016. In 2018, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned before an impeachment vote. Martín Vizcarra was impeached in 2020.