The accusation must be voted on by the subcommittee and debated in the Congress plenary

Peru's Congress calls for Pedro Castillo to be prosecuted for treason

photo_camera Ernesto Arias/Congreso de la República de Perú vía REUTERS - Peruvian President Pedro Castillo addresses Congress

Third attempt to impeach Pedro Castillo in a year in office. A report by the Subcommittee on Constitutional Accusations of the Peruvian Congress has recommended the political and personal impeachment of President Castillo. The report, published in the press, alleged that the president had committed treason by considering the possibility of holding a popular referendum to grant Bolivia an outlet to the sea, lost after the War of the Pacific in 1884.

"It is recommended: to accuse the investigated Jos茅 Pedro Castillo Terrones, in his capacity as president of the Republic, as the alleged perpetrator of the crime of treason," the report states. In addition, it proposes "the sanction of disqualification for five years from the exercise of public office".

The 89-page petition, drafted by centre-right legislators Wilson Soto, Norma Yarrow and Jos茅 Cueto, is based on the controversial interview Castillo gave to CNN in Spanish, where he said he would give Bolivia access to the sea if the Peruvian people decided so in a referendum. "For that to happen, we need the people to express themselves," Castillo said in the interview. 

These statements were interpreted by legislators as a violation of unconstitutional mandates, because the Constitution does not allow part of sovereign territory to be ceded by means of a referendum. This explanation was also offered by Peru's own Foreign Minister, Oscar Ma煤rtua, who denied that Castillo had made such a proposal. "The government has not considered or even imagined that Peru would grant Bolivia a sovereign outlet to the Pacific Ocean, as this would mean ceding national territory, which is unconstitutional and politically impossible", he defended in a plenary session of Congress. 

For his part, Castillo's lawyer, Benji Espinoza, has based his defence on saying that the report presented in Congress "has many pages, but no serious legal argument", and that its destination "should be the archive, where legal juggling rests".

In any case, the charge of treason must be voted on by the subcommittee, then debated by Congress in plenary and finally put to a vote to determine Pedro Castillo's impeachment.

The Peruvian president is facing three impeachment attempts by Congress and five public prosecutors' investigations for alleged corruption a year after he took office in July 2021. However, what Congress interprets as justice and opposition, Castillo sees as "coup forces" against which he promises a "national crusade" to defend democracy, as he said at the tribute to the 198th anniversary of the Battle of Jun铆n, key to the Andean country's independence.

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"They can't break me, they can't create ghosts of corruption by weakening and creating headlines on screens to take me away from my people, they won't do it and I won't allow it," he added.

He also described the arrest of his sister-in-law by the country's judiciary as a "media show", saying that the opposition is trying to seize power "illegally and unconstitutionally". "Today, the government palace and the presidential palace have once again been violated with an illegal raid endorsed by a judge to take away the legitimate government of the Peruvian people," Castillo said.

The Andean country's leader regretted that his government has sought dialogue since taking power in vain, because "it has only received constitutional accusations or requests for disqualification or resignation". 

Americas Coordinator: Jos茅 Antonio Sierra.

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