Led by opposition parties, the Congress of Peru denied President Pedro Castillo a trip to Europe.
With one vote difference, the Congress of Peru on October 6 denied the president of the country Pedro Castillo the right to travel to Europe.
Legislative Resolution 3217 was rejected with 55 votes against, 54 in favor, 6 absentions and 2 absentees, blocking the president in the country, instead of travelling to Belgium, Italy and Vatican from October 12 to October 18.
Congress was asked to reconsider the decision and held a second vote, which didn’t approve the trip either, with 56 in favor and 58 against.
Pedro Castillo was supposed to meet the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Council Charles Michel in Brussels, Pope Francis and international organizations.
Mr Castillo was supposed to travel to sign a memorandum of understanding to strengthen political dialogue and expand cooperation with the European Union, as well as a framework agreement for the participation of Peru in EU’s crisis management operations.
His meeting with Pope Francis should have been followed with a discussion with the secretary general of Caritas, a Catholic humanitarian association. These meetings were a recognition of the “important role that the Catholic Church has played as a source of aid and cooperation, as well as in the historical, cultural and moral formation of Peru,” according to the legislative resolution.
Mr Castillo was also scheduled as a keynote speaker in the opening session of the World Food Forum 2022 organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. He would have met F.A.O. Director General, Mr Qu Dongyu, and the president of the International Fund of Agricultural Development, Mr Alvaro Lario.
At a press conference during a visit of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the minister of Foreign Affairs César Landa said the decision of the Congress “comes as a surprise.” He also tweeted that the presidential trip will “strengthen Peru’s presence abroad” and that “Congress should review its decision to allow material and spirituals needs of the Peruvian people to be met.”
Parliamentary spokesperson of opposition party Popular Renewal Jorge Montoya explained the president of Peru does not represent the country but “six fiscal folders,” as Mr Castillo is accused of corruption.
In Peru’s Constitution, the Congress has great powers and needs to authorize the president of the Republic to leave the country. It is the second time the Congress denies the possibility for President Castillo to go outside the national territory. Congress voted 12 times on the matter since September 2021.
Congress first refusal was last August as it denied a trip to Colombia to attend the inauguration ceremony of the president Gustavo Petro. Mr Castillo and Mr Petro are both left-wing politicians.
But power at the unicameral legislative body of the country is fragmented between 14 political groups sharing the 130 seats of Congress. Right-wing parties hold the majority and Free Peru, Mr Castillo’s party, along with other supportive parties only have 42 seats.
Popular Force, the right-wing party of Keiko Fujimori, the runner-up in the last presidential elections in June 2021, has the most seats with 24 representatives. All politicians of Popular Force voted against the President’s trip.
When Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was president of Peru from 2016 to 2018 until he resigned following a corruption case and impeachment vote from Congress, all 15 requests to leave the country had been approved.