After 24 hours of uncertainty and the worst Friday in years on the stock exchange, Peru’s new president, Pedro Castillo, has completed his cabinet, swearing in the moderate leftist economist Pedro Francke as finance minister, and in the process calming jittery investors and anxious Peruvians alike.
Aníbal Torres was also sworn in, as justice minister, on Friday, filling the remaining empty cabinet posts. The rest were sworn in late on Thursday, amid deep unease over Castillo’s choice of prime minister, Guido Bellido, who is under investigation for allegedly defending the Shining Path, a Maoist rebel group that killed tens of thousands of Peruvians in the 1980s and 1990s, and is also accused of making homophobic remarks.
In a pointed rejection of Bellido’s controversial views, Francke vowed to work “towards good living, with equal opportunities, without the distinction of gender, ethnic identity or sexual orientation” when he took the oath as minister.
Just hours before the ceremony, Bellido tweeted, with a hint of desperation, that Francke had “all our support to apply the stable economic policy expressed in the bicentenary without corruption plan”.
The 60-year-old former world bank technocrat had been a close economic adviser to Castillo during a lengthy recount of votes after the second round of the election in June, dispelling fears that his future government would practise resource nationalisation and expropriation.
“Private companies will continue to be private companies,” he told the Guardian in June. “Our economy will be market-oriented but with pro-poor policies,” he said. He ruled out nationalisations but said multinational mining companies would have to leave more money behind in the country.
Wishing Francke success, the former Peruvian finance minister Alonso Segura tweeted: “His efforts will be fundamental to generate the consensus to allow a better country for all Peruvians.”
Francke’s previous absence from the cabinet compounded by Bellido’s controversial appointment had plunged the incoming government into crisis. Centrist lawmakers have led calls for Bellido’s resignation as prime minister.
His appointment has been linked to Vladimir Cerrón, a close ally and the founder of the Marxist-Leninist Free Peru party to which Castillo belongs. Concern over the influence of Cerrón, a Cuban-educated neurosurgeon who admires Venezuela’s government, has undermined belief that Castillo is in control of his government.