October 02, 2019

Peru has a history of a corruption-ridden political system, with three past presidents under investigation. The most recent president, Alan García, took his own life upon learning that a judge had ordered his detention. Following months of a political crisis in Peru between the Legislative and the Executive Powers, President Martin Vizcarra announced the dissolution of Congress. The New York Times stated that "Vizcarra claims the opposition, which controls Congress, has repeatedly blocked his attempts to clean up Peruvian politics and pass much-needed reforms." His action was based on an interpretation of the Constitution that allows the president to dissolve Congress if it forces two presidential cabinets to resign by motions of no confidence. Congress leaders responded by rejecting Vizcarra’s announcement and accusing him of overstepping his authority. Congress then suspended Vizcarra from the presidency and swore in Vice President Mercedes Araoz as the interim President. However, Araoz resigned from her position Oct. 1, saying the crisis had to be solved by the judiciary and called for new elections.

The political crisis in Peru has increased protests against Congress' attempt to remove the president. The New York Times commented on the political turmoil occurring in Peru by saying, "In downtown Lima, the capital, the police blocked traffic, leaving streets unusually empty and lined with shuttered stores. While some Peruvians celebrated Mr. Vizcarra’s decision as a much overdue purge of the corrupt elites, others saw in the drastic move a reminder of Peru’s despotic past."

Michael Baney, Intelligence Manager, said, "Because the legality of Mr. Vizcarra’s move is uncertain, leaving open the question of whether Congress has been dissolved, it is also unclear whether it had the power to suspend Mr. Vizcarra and swear in his vice president, Ms. Aráoz. Peru now has a constitutional chicken and egg problem. If the dissolution of Congress was legal, then it voting to strip Vizcarra of power was illegal, since it was no longer even in session." He went on to say, “Of course, the inverse is also true: If Vizcarra’s dissolution of Congress was illegal, then Congress was indeed in session and thus had the power to strip Vizcarra of his power.”

Read the full The New York Times article.