LIMA – Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski revamped his Cabinet on Tuesday, changing the heads of nine ministries and promising to maintain “a permanent avenue of dialogue with the public.”
The Cabinet, which will continue to be headed by economist Mercedes Araoz, kept 10 ministers in place but included among the newly appointed ones attorney Cayetana Aljovin at the Foreign Ministry and Aprista Party member Javier Barreda as labor minister, a move that led his party to announce his immediate “expulsion” from its ranks.
After administering the oaths of office at the Government Palace, Kuczynski offered “a government close to the people and their needs, ready to solve the day to day problems they are facing, placing the state at their service and not (at the service) of personal interests.”
“We need to put our differences to the side for this greater aim, which is the union,” the president said, alluding to the political crisis that erupted on Dec. 24 when he pardoned former President Alberto Fujimori, who governed from 1990-2000 and was serving a 25-year prison sentence for crimes against humanity.
At the start of the ceremony, Kuczynski made a mistake by administering the oath to Aljovin as minister of Energy and Mines, the post she had occupied until Tuesday, sparking laughter among those present.
“That happened because I wasn’t reading what they gave me very well,” the president commented before correcting his mistake.
Later, he swore in Jose Arista to head the Agriculture and Irrigation Ministry, Jorge Melendez at Development and Social Inclusion, Abel Salinas at Health and Barreda at Labor.
In addition, Kuczynski administered the oath of office to Jorge Kisic as minister of Defense, Alejandro Neyra at Culture, Lieneke Schol at Production and Angela Grossheim at Energy and Mines.
At the end of the ceremony, the president referred to the crisis sparked in the country over the request, which was ultimately tabled, to have Congress depose him over the links between a company he owns and Brazil’s scandal-ridden Odebrecht construction firm and the pardon he granted to Fujimori.
He said that on Tuesday “a very important phase” was ending in his mandate, adding that “in these days of profound reflection” he had spoken “with different political groups and forces and Peruvians of good will.”
“The last 30 days have probably been unprecedented in our political life. Today, we’re experiencing times of tension, but we must commit ourselves to understanding to return stability to our country,” he declared.
He acknowledged, moreover, that “perhaps reconciliation will be a difficult objective to attain,” but he promised that he will not stop “for a second” in his “effort to honor it.”
“It’s natural for differences to exist among us. That is the sense of democracy. However, despite our differences, I ask all of us to unite to fight our nation’s true problems – poverty, inequality in services, lack of security, corruption,” he concluded.