Criminal investigations and impeachment motions: Peru’s latest political crisis is unfolding 

By April 2, 2024

Lima, Peru — Peru finds itself once again in the eye of the political storm with a scandal threatening the stability of the country and President Dina Boluarte’s administration. Boluarte came into office in December 2022 following then-President Pedro Castillo’s ousting after he attempted to dissolve Congress.

For the past two weeks, the South American country has been rocked by corruption allegations involving the president, who is under investigation related to a collection of luxurious watches and jewelry, as well as allegedly receiving 1.1 million soles (USD $296.000) from unknown sources between 2016 and 2022.

Peruvian authorities, led by the Public Ministry, have initiated an investigation into Boluarte’s alleged illicit enrichment and failure to declare expensive accessories in her financial reports.

The scandal began with a report published on March 14 by the media outlet La Encerrona, which, through the analysis of different photographs and videos, discovered that the president wore 14 different expensive watches, including a Rolex valued at USD $14,000, along with other valuable Cartier jewelry.

Since the investigation began, a series of events have unfolded, causing uncertainty in Peru’s politics and in its society overall.

Raid of Boluarte’s House and the Presidential Palace

Last Friday, the Peruvian police raided President Boluarte’s house and the Presidential Palace as part of their ongoing investigation. The forced entry was justified by the police citing lack of response from the occupants.

Raid on the house of Dina Boluarte, Surquillo district, in Lima, the Peruvian capital. TV capture

This inspection took place after Boluarte failed to appear for questioning or present the alleged watches on two occasions the previous week, after being called by the Public Ministry.

Although the watches were not found during the search, some jewelry and documents were discovered, including documentation allegedly showing the acquisition of at least one Rolex on July 8, 2023.

Originally, Boluarte was scheduled to testify to the Public Ministry on April 5, but after the raid, she requested it to be brought forward “as soon as possible.” So far, the Public Ministry has not responded to her request.

Resignation of Ministers

Following the searches of Boluarte’s homes, on the afternoon of April 1, three key ministers within her government — the Minister of the Interior, the Minister of Women, and the Education Minister — all announced their resignation without providing details as to why. On the same night, President Boluarte proceeded to restructure her cabinet, with changes in six ministerial portfolios, during a ceremony held at the Presidential Palace.

President Boluarte swore in ministers of State on April 1, 2024. Image courtesy of Peru’s Presidency

The adjustment, which affected approximately a third of her government ministries, comes just two days before Prime Minister Gustavo Adrianzén will seek a vote of confidence from Congress, explaining the last-minute cabinet reshuffle.

Impeachment Motion

In addition to the ministerial crisis, the Peru Libre party caucus, the party that brought Castillo and Boluarte to the presidency and vice presidency respectively, brought an impeachment motion against the president, with the support of at least 26 out of 130 congressmen.

“We have just presented the impeachment motion against Dina Boluarte, based on alleged permanent moral incapacity related to the Rolex matter, based on our parliamentary function of political control,” announced Congresswoman Margo Palacios on Saturday through her profile on X.

Chamber of the Peruvian Congress. Image courtesy of ANDINA.

Among the signatories of the document, the majority are legislators affiliated with Peru Libre and other left-wing parties.

In the Peruvian Congress, 87 out of 130 available votes are required to impeach a president. If impeachment is achieved, the President of Congress, Alejandro Soto, will assume the presidency and must immediately call for elections.

Peru has had six presidents in the past six years. The last two, Martín Vizcarra and Pedro Castillo, were removed from office through a congressional impeachment motion.