Wed, Apr 04, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Peru’s new president swears in brand-new Cabinet

Reuters, LIMA

Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra, left, on Monday swears in Minister of Defense Jose Huerta, kneeling, during the swearing-in ceremony for his new Cabinet at the presidential palace in Lima.

Photo: Reuters

Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra on Monday swore in an entirely new Cabinet that was praised by the rightwing opposition as a way to reset the once rocky relations between the executive and legislative branches that helped bring down his predecessor.

The new Cabinet, a mix of high-ranking civil servants, politicians and private sector specialists, is led by Prime Minister Cesar Villanueva, an opposition lawmaker who had led efforts to impeach former president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.

Kuczynski’s 20 months in office had been marked by clashes with Congress and the rightwing party Popular Force that controls a majority of seats.

The former Wall Street investor resigned as he faced threats of impeachment from a hostile congress probing allegations he received almost US$800,000 in payments a decade ago from Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction company at the center of a widespread Latin American corruption scandal.

Vizcarra, Kuczynski’s vice president, promised a clean slate when he replaced him.

So far, Popular Force lawmakers appear happy with the changes, especially Villanueva, a twice-elected former governor of an Amazonian region who earned a reputation as a bridge builder during his time as a lawmaker in Congress.

Villanueva has promised a government focused on resolving social problems in Peru’s long-neglected interior.

“I think he has the right experience to be the prime minister the country needs right now,” Popular Force lawmaker Rosa Maria Bartra said.

In a ceremony at the presidential palace in Lima, Vizcarra also swore in a former local manager for mining company Nexa Resources, Francisco Ismodes, as energy and mines minister and a former director of Latin America’s CAF development bank, David Tuesta, as finance minister.

Tuesta, who had also worked as chief economist for BBVA Research, will be Peru’s third finance minister in the past year.

However, some of the Cabinet picks could bring controversy.

Minister of Justice Salvador Heresi is a former lawmaker who spoke repeatedly in favor of Kuczynski’s widely criticized decision to give a pardon on medical grounds to former president Alberto Fujimori.

Green activists are also likely to balk at the pick of Fabiola Munoz as environmental minister. She is the former head of forestry service who in 2016 lobbied US customs officials to release a lumber shipment seized in Houston, Texas, for having violated laws banning the importation of illegally cut timber.

Additional reporting by AP

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