Peru’s prime minister to step down after allegations of domestic violence
Héctor Valer confirms resignation just four days after being named for the post
The Peruvian prime minister Héctor Valer confirmed on Saturday that he will step down just four days after being named for the post, after allegations that he beat his daughter and late wife.
On Friday, President Pedro Castillo said he would reshuffle the cabinet again, after just three days, amid widespread condemnation of his appointment of Valer as prime minister.
On Saturday there was no sign of when the reshuffle may take place. Castillo must name his fourth cabinet in just six months in office, as Peru teeters on the brink of a leadership vacuum and there are calls for the former rural primary school teacher to resign.
Using combative language, Valer accused the political right of forcing his resignation based on false accusations of domestic violence.
“The complaints against me are based on lies,” he said, visibly angered. “I have come to leave a drop of blood to support the construction of this government.”
Hours after Valer’s appointment on Tuesday, police reports emerged from 2016 in which his daughter and late wife accuse him of gender violence.
One complaint filed by his 29-year-old daughter which was seen by the Guardian detailed that he “slapped, punched and kicked her in the face” as well as pulled her hair. Valer has denied the allegations and said the reports were fake.
Under the Peruvian constitution, when the prime minister steps down the entire cabinet must follow suit until a replacement is nominated and a new ministerial team is chosen.
Women’s rights groups protested against Valer’s appointment, and three fellow ministers also called for him to step down. The ultra-conservative Valer – who opposes sex education and has a history of sexist remarks – entered as a lawmaker with a far-right party before switching to a party that supported Castillo.
Castillo, a member of a Marxist-Leninist party Perú Libre, has moved increasingly to the right since taking office last July.
Though nominally leftist, he expressed socially conservative views opposing LGBTQ rights, legal abortion and sex education which differed little from those of his far-right opponents, before taking office.
Suspicions about his leftist credentials were further fanned when he was photographed laughing and smiling with far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, who at one point put on Castillo’s trademark wide-brimmed hat, at a bilateral meeting on Thursday.
In a national address on Friday, Castillo accused congress and his former ministers of “feeding instability and political uncertainty” but made no mention of the accusations against Valer.
However, analysts point to a crisis of leadership for the president who has never before held public office.
“Pedro Castillo’s presence in the government is the main problem,” said Fernando Tuesta, a political science professor at Lima’s Pontifical Catholic University.