Protesters Take to the Streets of Peru After Their President Is Impeached
After the impeachment of Martín Vizcarra, Peruvians began protesting the installation of new leader Manuel Merino.
After Peru's legislature voted the popular President Martín Vizcarra out of office this week, thousands of Peruvians have taken to the streets to protest his impeachment. Vizcarra was replaced by Manuel Merino, a congressional leader who is expected to overturn many of Vizcarra's reforms.
Vizcarra has been known for his efforts to end decades of dirty politics in the country. Last year, he dissolved Congress after legislators repeatedly blocked his efforts to stop corruption and reform the judiciary. "From the political point of view, he was the face of the resistance," said Alonso Gurmendi Dunkelberg, an analyst and assistant professor at Peru's Universidad del Pacifico. "I think we will not see much anti-corruption efforts in this Congress."
On Monday, Vizcarra took the stand to defend himself from the accusation of taking over $630,000 in bribes in exchange for two construction contracts while he was serving as governor of a small province in southern Peru. During his defense, he pointed out that 68 lawmakers are currently facing their own investigations on accusations ranging from money laundering to homicide.
Merino, the new president, has also been questioned for possible nepotism in the awarding of $55,000 in state contracts to his mother and two siblings, which he has denied. Vizcarra has denied the accusations and has not been charged, though he agreed to step down, saying he didn't want to further aggravate political tensions in the country.
Merino promised to focus on the pandemic and honor the scheduled April 11 election date. "Today the population looks at us with expectation but also with concern," he said in his acceptance speech Tuesday. "Our commitment is to carry out a democratic transition."