The government of Peruvian President Dina Boluarte has undergone a cabinet reshuffle this week as the country's crisis keeps taking a turn for the worse with more violent demonstrations, followed by killings and arrests.
In a ceremony at the Government Palace announced on very short notice, Boluarte swore in Vicente Romero Fernández, Luis Alfonso Adrianzen, and Nancy Tolentino as Ministers of Interior, Labor, and Women, respectively.
First to leave the government had been Eduardo García Birimisa (Labor), who submitted his resignation letter on Thursday and demanded Boluarte's apology for the mistakes being made.
Romero Fernández takes over from Victor Rojas Herrera and will have to head the Peruvian National Police (PNP) in the current scenario. Rojas Herrera was sworn in barely over three weeks ago replacing Cesar Augusto Cervantes, who had lasted just ten days on the job. Romero Fernández is a retired PNP general who has already served as Minister of the Interior for three months under former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (2016-2018). He also headed the PNP between 2015 and 2017, when current Prime Minister Alberto Otárola was Minister of Defense under former President Ollanta Humala (2011-2016).
Adrianzen, a lawyer by trade is the new Labor Minister. He had been working as secretary general of Otárola's office and used to be his advisor during Otálora's time as Defense Minister. Adrianzen was also general manager of the Ministry of Production under Minister Jorge Luis Prado in the government of former President Pedro Castillo Terrones (2021-2022).
Women and Vulnerable Populations Minister Nancy Tolentino is a psychologist who had other jobs within the ministry back in 2012. Tolentino had also been an alternate national delegate to the Inter-American Commission of Women of the Organization of American States (OAS).
Amid these appointments, Boluarte also asked for forgiveness for Peru's current situation but said she would not be resigning, which is one of the protesters' main demands. She also regretted the 49 deaths recorded so far since she took office following Castillo's Dec. 7 impeachment. Just as I ask for forgiveness, as president I ask with all my heart that we reject violence, Boluarte said.
She also welcomed the investigations undertaken by the Public Prosecutor's Office, which include a preliminary proceeding against her and Otárola, for the alleged crimes of genocide, aggravated homicide, and serious injuries. However, Boluarte insisted that foreign infiltrators needed to be investigated as well because some weapons and ammunition would have entered the country through southern regions. I must be emphatic in pointing out that this type of ammunition is not used by the National Police or our Armed Forces, Boluarte stressed.
The president admitted that people were entitled to peaceful protests, but this right cannot be abused by blocking roads, attacking businesses, and other irregular actions.
These people who generate hatred, who burned the houses of congressmen, who have murdered a policeman, that has not been enough for them, they have also killed animals, what is the fault of the horses or dogs that have been thrown without any mercy from the bridges and cruelly killed?, Boluarte wondered while fearing that the country was returning to the years of terrorist violence, where dogs were hung on lamp posts.
Boluarte also recalled that Peru had welcomed this week a team from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to observe the political and social situation and insisted she had nothing to hide.
Peru's Public Prosecutor's Office reported Friday that 329 people had been detained in connection with anti-government demonstrations that began last month. Those held under custody, including a minor, are being investigated for crimes against public administration, riots, violence, resistance to authority and hindering the functioning of public services.
The Public Prosecutor's Office guarantees that the investigations are carried out with strict respect to the laws in force in the country and the defense of Human Rights with order, firmness, and celerity, they said in a statement.
The Prosecutor's Office has opened eight investigations for deaths registered during various protests since the beginning of the crisis.