What’s Happening in Peru?


A Photo Depicting the Riots in Peru

Caitlin Bailey, Global News Columnist

Peru, home to part of the Amazon rainforest and popular tourist attractions like Machu Picchu, is in political turmoil following the swearing in of its newest president, Manuel Merino. 


Peru’s Congress removed the previous president, Martín Vizcarra, to the public’s dismay. Many Peruvians believe that the action was unjust and that Merino was one of the main figure’s behind Vizcarra’s removal. 


An impeachment trial was held for Vizcarra in September on the grounds of “moral incapacity.” This trial ultimately failed, but before the vote had been cast, Merino had tried to garner support for his campaign. Merino was a former head of Peru’s Congress who served two terms, and wanted to try for the presidency. Allegedly, before the vote had been cast, Merino had contacted high-level military personnel in order to see if they would support him if Vizcarra was removed. 


Though the initial trial did not yield Vizcarra’s impeachment, a second trial was held. This time, Vizcarra was accused of taking bribes a few years prior. Vizcarra was removed due to “permanent moral incapacity” and he resigned without conflict. 


To make matters worse, Peru is currently experiencing another large outbreak of COVID-19, one of the world’s worst, according to AP News. People fear that a change in office combined with a rise in cases, there will be an economic crisis. 


Merino was sworn in as the interim president until the next election in 2021. 


Nearly 80% of the Peruvian population wanted Vizcarra to remain in office, and following Merino’s swearing in, riots broke out in the streets in protest. Protestors threw stones at officers and destroyed store fronts, to which the officers responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. 2 people died and 94 were injured. 


However, the week-long protests yielded results. Merino resigned on Sunday, November 15. 


In the meantime, Francisco Sagasti is the interim president of Peru. His party was the only one that voted against the removal of Vizcarra. Sagasti will remain in office until April 2021, when the elections take place.