Who is Martín Vizcarra? Meet the man in line to be Peru’s new president

By March 21, 2018

Following Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s resignation today, Vice President Martín Vizcarra will be taking the reins to govern the country.

Kuczynski’s resignation follows the rising pressure against him due to his alleged ties with the Odebrecht corruption scandal. In an Ipsos poll published in El Comercio on March 11, Kuczynski had an approval rating of only 19%, 58% of Peruvians were in favour of his impeachment and 56% said they would be happy if he resigned to allow Vizcarra to take over.

Vizcarra, previously a civil engineer working in the construction business, came to politics in 2010, when he was elected governor of the southern city of Moquegua. La Republica attests that he was one of the most popular regional presidents and gained national recognition as regional governor of Moquegua when the schools in the region came first in the Ministry of Education’s Student Evaluation.

martin vizcarra

Martín Vizcarra, left of former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, is now next in line to assume Peru’s presidency.

Chosen as a member of the government in July 2016, he worked for the Ministry of Transport and Communication, but he had to leave the cabinet at the end of May 2017 by the same opposition that in the last couple of weeks have been calling him the government’s saviour.

There was controversy as he tried to build the Chinchero airport, which caused furious reactions from the opposition and ended up costing him his job at the Ministry. To escape the backlash of this, he left for Canada, where he was the Peruvian ambassador until he was summoned back today with PPK’s resignation.

As Vizcarra flies to Lima from Ottawa tonight and sets up to take control of the country, questions abound as to what will be his next steps.

Today El Comercio published an interview with Juan Sheput, a spokesperson for centre right party Peruanos Por el Kambio (Peruvians for Change, which is purposefully misspelled as a riff of founder Kuczynski’s identifying initials).

“The best that could happen, if Kuczynski resigns and Martin Vizcarra takes power, is that he has to call a general election,” Sheput said. “The Congress has demonstrated that it cannot handle these circumstances.” 

Peru’s political climate has been steadily worsening amid various accusations of corruption, and time will tell how Vizcarra will deal with the situation.