Photo Credit: Dave Whamond, Cagle Cartoons
On Monday, Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra was impeached “on the grounds of permanent moral incapacity” over allegations of bribery, with a congressional vote of 105 out of 130, far more than the 87 votes required for removal. Vizcarra’s impeachment shocked the nation, as the pending hearing had been widely criticized as just another attempt to oust the popular president. The previous impeachment vote was held in September for an unrelated accusation of obstruction of justice. Vizcarra has denied all allegations and is cooperating with prosecutors in the investigations.
Although Peruvians are taking the investigation charges seriously, polls showed that more than 70 percent opposed the president’s removal, which comes after Peru suffered one of the worst economic crashes in the world during 2020. Demonstrators gathered in Lima on Tuesday to protest the swearing-in of Manuel Merino—the former head of Peru’s Congress and a key figure in orchestrating the impeachment.
With the next presidential elections scheduled for April 2021, Interim President Merino will have an uphill battle to gain popular approval. However, despite the destabilizing turn of events, political upheaval in Peru is not unusual, with several of the country’s presidents indicted or jailed on corruption charges since the early 90s. It remains to be seen whether former President Vizcarra will join this Hall of Infamy or clear his name.