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Peru's Prime Minister: "We have to move towards a process of national reconciliation"


Highlights: Alberto Otárola is president of the Council of Ministers of Peru. He is currently visiting Madrid and Paris to explain the country's political process. Six months ago, social protests in Peru ended with the death of 60 people. President Dina Boluarte was sworn in following the ouster of Pedro Castillo, accused of organizing a self-coup on December 7, 2022. The president's term began with unprecedented protests that paralyzed the country and ended with 60 people dead.. We have found more than 2,600 projects stuck, with budgetary allocation, but paralyzed by the Government.

Alberto Otárola visits Europe to explain the policy of President Dina Boluarte six months after social protests that ended with the death of 60 people

"Peru is back." With this phrase greets Alberto Otárola (Huaraz, 56 years old), president of the Council of Ministers of Peru, who is currently visiting Madrid and Paris. "We want to explain the recent political process and our decision to work the social agenda. We must close the gap," says the premier. Lawyer, human rights expert and twice Minister of Defense, Otárola is one of the most visible and relevant faces of the Executive of Peruvian President Dina Boluarte. The first woman in office in the Andean country was sworn in six months ago, following the ouster of Pedro Castillo, accused of organizing a self-coup on December 7. The president's term began with unprecedented protests that paralyzed the country, blocked roads and airports and ended with 60 people dead. Human rights organizations lamented an "illegitimate use of violence" by state security forces and, as denounced by Amnesty International, "extrajudicial executions."

Question. What do you think of Amnesty International's statements?

Answer. I believe that these conclusions will have to be made by a judge and not by Amnesty International. We have invited the rapporteurs of the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and opened the doors of the institutions to do their work. We value those reports, but we are going to wait for the investigation and the judges, which is what we have to do as democrats. Today, President Boluarte – with her spirit of deep respect for the institutions and for the country's right to truth – is testifying before the Prosecutor's Office about these facts. He has not invoked his right to silence so that we can begin to know the truth. One of the things that these bodies should investigate is, for example, how much damage these violent protests have done to tourism and the economy. Before the pandemic, we were visited by four million tourists. Last year, they were 1.9 and this year we expect to exceed 2.2 million. I think this is a good step forward. But we are not going to stop there: we have to give momentum. We must move towards a process of national reconciliation.

Q. How is Peru now?

A. Precisely, tomorrow [this Wednesday] marks six months since the coup d'état perpetrated by former President Castillo. These have been very hard times, especially the first months, when we had to face these demonstrations. Currently, there is no such protest, there are no blocked roads and we have managed to get the State to protect the right to peace and tranquility of Peruvians. We have returned to the path of economic growth, we have begun to recover tourism, generate confidence and, above all, to work on a social agenda. As President Boluarte says, to close the [social] gap. That is the agenda we have now come to tell.

Q. How have you managed to advance in this process of appeasement?

A. The decisive factor has been to establish a dialogue with the social actors, with the regional governors, with the mayors... And we've found a lot of empathy. We have drawn up a development agenda: we have found more than 2,600 projects stuck, with budgetary allocation, but paralyzed by the incompetence of the Government. Hence, it is understood that the social protest experienced has been legitimate in the sense of discussing or questioning the demagogy that came from the State. But there was also a small, organized and violent group that tried to undermine the rule of law. Then, that confrontation took place, with about 60 dead that we regret and that we have cried. Those deceased are Mr. Castillo's: he has promoted that violence from prison.

Q. What happened on December 7, 2022?

A. That day the nervousness about the corruption investigations against Castillo and the haste converged. They had the government, but they sought power and implemented an authoritarian state. I have no doubt that this coup had been prepared in advance. Castillo is not imprisoned for the coup, which he deserves, but for being corrupt. Precisely, one of the struggles of President Boluarte is against corruption.

Q. We could say that it is an endemic problem of the country.

A. In Peru we have a mixed presidential-parliamentary model that is related to the democratic crisis we have experienced. Members cannot be re-elected, which seems to me to be a mistake. And we should have two Houses, because we get very fast and bad laws. In addition, there are sectors of the country that are not well represented. We have a frustrated, pending political reform; Now we have a chance. Hopefully this Congress can carry it out.

"China is very strong, it has come to stay in Latin America." Luis Sevillano

Q. The valuation of President Boluarte has been at a minimum among Peruvians, has it improved?

A. Dina Boluarte is improving Peru, as shown by confidence indicators. We have the first female president, for the first time in history; a parity cabinet; and ministers who can be questioned, but never for their lack of suitability. Having a minister who does not steal in Peru is already a revolution. Inflation is the lowest in Latin America and despite the problems, we are going to grow at 3%; we have implemented 25 per cent more budget than the previous Government; Mining investment has grown by 7%... We want to return to economic growth, closing the social gap. That's the president's message. Peruvians value that we solve day-to-day problems: citizen security, health, or education. Although I think we have to communicate it better.

Q. What does this increase in mining investment imply?

A. Peru is a mining country. What interests us is responsible mining. We have large investments: projects for the next ten years. One of those is lithium, which is in Puno. From the Government we promote a policy not for extraction and export, but to generate a lithium industry in the country and that, for example, batteries can be manufactured here. Lithium is going to be a great opportunity.

Q. One of the complaints in Peru is that Lima's decisions do not reach either the highlands or the jungle.

A. I will not deny that there are profound economic differences: with Mr. Castillo poverty rose two points and that has no forgiveness from God. If there is a public policy that has been working in Peru, regardless of the government of the day, it has been the systematic reduction of poverty. We have been hit by the seven plagues: Hurricane Yaku, the coastal El Niño, dengue... Each problem has its solution and its time. The Peruvian people have a lot of resilience. We want to create spaces where Peruvians, who are very entrepreneurial, can develop and be calm. For this reason, we have launched the economic program Con Punche Peru, with an investment of 9,000 million soles (about 2,290 million euros), to unblock local projects. Thus, the president will unlock 57 hospitals and many other public investment projects in the next two years. On the other hand, we are advancing the port of Chancay, which will be one of the largest in the world, which will value the Pacific Ocean and will be a hub in Latin America.

Q. What do you think of the good results of Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the dictator, in the last presidential elections?

A. It seems to me that she does not detract from being the daughter of the dictator; She has built her own leadership. Of course, he has judicial problems. Now, we must talk about the current government: at this moment we are a coalition of democratic parties that has decided to give governability to the country and lay the foundations for progress. We are a government without a party, without a seat in Congress. When I have to negotiate with the House, I approach it as a frank and open dialogue. You have to recover democratic manners, that's how I was trained in politics. We have avoided the savagery that has existed at other times and we have more time to do more public management. July 28 will be the president's first accountability.

Q. How do you assess relations with Spain and the EU?

A. The relationship with Spain must be horizontal, pragmatic and, above all, valuing that we are historical partners who seek a common identity. Spain is Peru's second largest investor. We need a wave of investors with a new approach to respect for labor rights, the environment, our justice system and also who are willing to compete with another recent phenomenon: China, which is very strong and has come to stay in Latin America. We feel that, after years of some distancing, the European Union, especially Spain, has returned to look at us: Spain is our hinge in Europe.

The 'premier' of Peru is part of "a government without a party": "When I have to negotiate with Congress, I propose it as an open dialogue." Luis Sevillano

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-06-08

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