Peru’s Foreign Minister Resigns over Controversial Statements on Terrorism

Peruvian Foreign Affairs Minister Héctor Béjar submitted his resignation after the scandal caused by his statements about the organization Sendero Luminoso and the role of the Peruvian Navy during the Fujimori dictatorship.

On Tuesday, August 17, Foreign Affairs Minister Héctor Béjar submitted his resignation after a controversial statement on terrorism and the Peruvian Navy became public, reported local Peruvian radio station RPP.

RPP cited sources from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; however, before that, Prime Minister Guido Bellido had already indicated in a Twitter post that “there will be changes for the sake of the progress of the country,” which might have alluded to Béjar’s departure.

On August 15, a Peruvian television program broadcast some statements made by Béjar, in which he stated that “terrorism in Peru was initiated by the Navy, and that can be proven historically.”

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By terrorism he alluded to the emergence of the Maoist organization Sendero Luminoso [Shining Path] in 1980.

Béjar had also asserted that the Navy had been “trained for such a purpose by the CIA” and that “Sendero [Luminoso] has largely been the work of the CIA,” although he acknowledged that he had no proof for these claims.

In its attempt to take power by arms, Sendero Luminoso was responsible for a civil war in which the armed forces got involved, leading to the death of about 31,000 to 37,000 people during the period 1980-2000. Small remnants of the armed organization still exist in southern Peru.

After the controversial statements of the foreign affairs minister came out, various opposition factions in the Congress and also a number of civil society organizations demanded Béjar’s resignation.

In addition, on August 16, the Navy issued a statement rejecting what Béjar had said.

Béjar took office on July 29, a day after the inauguration of President Pedro Castillo.

The former foreign affairs minister had made the controversial statements in 2020, when he had declared that the Peruvian Navy had been no passive agent in the fight against the insurgent armies of Sendero Luminoso and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA), and that the Navy was responsible for a repression campaign during the Alberto Fujimori dictatorship (1990-2000). Due to these reasons, Béjar considered that the Peruvian Army and Navy could also be considered as terrorists.

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However, the Foreign Affairs Ministry has declared that Béjar’s statements, which were issued more than a year before he took office, have been manipulated and taken out of context as part of a smear campaign against President Castillo’s administration.

Béjar’s resignation is just a part of a larger campaign by the opposition and the hegemonic elite to oust some of the most radical members and key political allies in President Pedro Castillos’ recently appointed cabinet. This campaign has affected Prime Minister Guido Bellido, Peru Libre founder Vladimir Cerrón Rojas and Congressman Guillermo Bermejo, who are now under preliminary investigation for allegations of association with a Sendero Luminoso faction.

Justice Minister Aníbal Torres has warned that the Peruvian Congress, where the opposition holds the majority, will seek any excuse to issue a vote of no confidence against Guido Bellido’s appointment. The opposition will strive to hinder Castillo’s administration by vacating his cabinet, for if Bellido were to receive a vote of no confidence from the majority in the legislature, all of Castillo’s cabinet ministers would have to resign.

 

 

Featured image: Héctor Béjar has resigned from his post as foreign affairs minister of Peru. Photo: Reuters / Presidency of Peru

(Sputnik) with Orinoco Tribune content

Translation: Orinoco Tribune

OT/GMS/SC

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