What do these two episodes tell us? The right in Latin America will resort to anything to stop the left. And here in México the political opposition to Morena is practically salivating at the notion that it could pull off something similar.
In Peru, the election of Castillo, a rural teacher, had shocked the political establishment. A man who grew up tending livestock sitting on the presidential throne! The right could not tolerate that. Right-wing forces led by Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of former Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori, engaged in a relentless destabilization campaign to keep Castillo from implementing the progressive agenda he was elected on.
“His adversaries,” as Mexican President López Obrador noted at a news conference last week, “did not accept that he would govern.”
Castillo, a political neophyte, struggled to navigate this assault. He went through five cabinets and two failed impeachment attempts. Desperate for some measure of stability, Castillo pivoted to the right, even inviting the Organization of American States to help. But that would not satisfy his opponents.
Finally, exhausted and at wit’s end, Castillo announced last Wednesday the dissolution of Congress and the installation of an “exceptional emergency government” that would rule by decree. He further called for the election of a constituent congress to draft a new constitution for Peru, a longtime demand by popular movements that sought to replace the 1993 Constitution implemented during the Fujimori dictatorship.
But that maneuver backfired after the country’s political class, as well as the armed forces and national police, announced they would not support the move. They labeled Castillo’s dissolution a “self coup,” with the US Embassy in Peru calling it “extra constitutional.” Peru’s Congress, already set to vote on a third impeachment effort that same day, quickly approved Castillo’s ouster.
The Peruvian people did not let this move go unanswered. Protests broke out in various parts of the country, and the General Confederation of Workers of Peru has called for a nationwide strike. But with Castillo detained in a high-security jail, his return to office appears unlikely.
The deeply unpopular Congress may have won the day, but the ouster of a democratically elected president may ultimately prove to be a pyrrhic victory. The problems that led Peruvian workers and campesinos to elect Castillo remain — and so will the country’s political instability.
Latin America’s political and economic elites continue to believe they hold the birthright to rule. But in a democracy, Latin America’s masses will forever remind them, that right remains theirs.