New cabinet sworn in

06 October 2019

Following the dissolution of Congress (coming on top of what was construed as a vote of no confidence), Vizcarra was obliged to replace his prime minister, Salvador del Solar. The new prime minister is the previous justice minister, Vicente Zeballos.

The new cabinet involves some significant changes:

The new minister of economy and finance is Maria Antonieta Alva, who occupied a lesser position within the MEF previously. Her predecessor, Carlos Oliva, was widely criticised for failing to achieve faster growth. Alva is unlikely to adopt major policy changes. At 34 years old, she is unusually young to occupy such a key post in government.

Gustavo Meza Cuadro, previously in charge of the embassy in London and more recently Peru’s ambassador to the United Nations, is the new foreign minister, replacing Nestor Popolizio. Walter Marcos becomes defence minister. Ana Teresa Villa replaces Zeballos in the justice ministry. Jorge Luis Montenegro is the new agriculture minister, while Juan Carlos Liu takes over from Francisco Ismodes as minister of energy and mines and Edmer Trujillo returns to the post of minister of transport and communications.

Rodolfo Yañez is the new housing minister, Fabiola Muñoz environment minister (returning to this post), Francesco Petrozzi (formerly an FP congressman) culture minister, and Jorge Melendez (formerly a PPK congressman) social inclusion minister. Petrozzi previously was a critic of the Lugar de la Memoria, Lima’s museum dedicated to human rights violations during the war with Sendero Luminoso.

The following ministers retained their previous jobs: Carlos Morán (interior), Flor Pablo (education), Zulema Tomás (health), Sylvia Cáceres (labour), Rocío Barrios (production), Edgar Vásquez (foreign trade and tourism), and Gloria Montenegro (women).

There are thus eight women in the cabinet and eleven men.

One of the traits of the new cabinet is the close personal relationship that many of its new members have with the president. One observer has called it ‘the Moquegua Club’. Zeballos has known Vizcarra since his school days in Moquegua. Trujillo was general manager of the regional administration when Vizcarra was governor of Moquegua. Liu worked on the Pasto Grande irrigation project in Moquegua and is a close friend of Vizcarra. Alva is daughter of one of Vizcarra’s closest friends and former rector of the Engineering University (UNI).

The record of the previous cabinet was widely considered lacklustre, but its achievements (or the lack of them) were effectively clouded by the permanent row between the executive branch and the fujimorista-dominated legislature. Assuming that this conflict may now wind itself down, the new cabinet will be under pressure to perform better than its predecessor.

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