Peru's President Pedro Castillo Terrones Tuesday denied his alleged involvement in acts of corruption and denounced opposition politicians for their campaign to remove him from office.
The left-wing Castillo made those remarks before Congress as part of his defense strategy. The one-house Parliament is to debate his impeachment March 28.
The head of state was conciliatory in his 85-minute message. He urged the right-wing opposition to seek consensus and end the animosity that has existed between the executive and legislative branches for the past five years.
My government has been the target of accusations from media and political sectors; they want to make the population believe that we are immersed in acts of corruption, a situation that I strongly reject, Castillo said.
There is a systematic work to question the legitimacy of the Presidency and obstruct the work of the Executive, with the sole purpose of vacating the President or finding mechanisms to cut his mandate [short], he added.
Castillo also recalled that since he won the elections in June 2021, his right-wing adversaries had refused to accept his victory at the polls, claiming fraud even though international observers from the United States, the Organization of American States (OAS), and the European Union (EU) ruled out irregularities.
Peru is experiencing an unprecedented institutional crisis, Castillo insisted. Let us look for points of coincidence and consensus, he went on.
Congress, dominated by the right-wing opposition, has put Castillo against the ropes Monday when it agreed by 76 votes, 41 against, and one abstention to debate an impeachment request, similar to the one that led to the falls of former Presidents Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, in 2018, and Martin Vizcarra, in 2020.
To remove Castillo from office, the opposition needs 87 votes. According to Peruvian media, that number does not look likely to be reached.
This is the second motion to vacate against Castillo since he took office in July. The first attempt, in December, failed to garner enough supporting votes.
Castillo is accused of alleged corruption and also of treason for declaring himself open to a referendum to grant Bolivia an exit to the Pacific Ocean. The president's disapproval fell in March to 66%, three points above February's 69%. But Congress's rejection stands at 70%, according to Ipsos polls.