Peru’s Castillo Finds Himself ‘Between the Sword and the Wall’

Peru’s Castillo Finds Himself ‘Between the Sword and the Wall’
Peruvian President Pedro Castillo reviews the honor guard as he arrives for a military parade in Lima, Peru, July 30, 2021 (AP photo by Guadalupe Pardo).

One week after taking office, having won election by the thinnest margin imaginable, Peruvian President Pedro Castillo finds himself “between the sword and the wall,” to use the Spanish expression, as a result of the country’s complex political realities, made worse by his early stumbles. Peruvians are watching anxiously, uncertain about what direction he will try to take the country and how far he will get in his efforts.

Castillo assumed the presidency last Thursday, in a day so filled with controversy that it seemed a continuation of the turbulent events that brought him to the top job. Obviously, it is extremely early in his term, but the signs so far are not reassuring to anyone on any side of the political spectrum.

Nerves are on edge among centrists, who voted for Castillo in the second-round run-off election in early June only because they distrusted his far-right opponent, Keiko Fujimori, even more. As for leftists, who propelled Castillo’s unlikely candidacy, they worry that their man, under pressure from the center and the right, may go soft on their radical program of change. Then there are Peru’s rightists, and especially Fujimori’s supporters, who are determined to hold him in check, keeping close at hand the impeachment proceedings that helped them push two previous presidents out of office in the past three years.

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