LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peru's foreign secretary resigned Tuesday amid criticism for comments he made about terrorism in the country in the late 20th century, leaving the new government of President Pedro Castillo less than a month after it assumed power.
The presidency's press office said in a statement that Foreign Affairs Secretary Héctor Béjar, 85, had handed in a letter of “irrevocable resignation” and the president accepted it.
The government didn't cite any reason, but the opposition and some media have been criticizing the sociology professor and former guerilla member for saying in late 2020 that the Shining Path terrorist group was a CIA creation and that the Peruvian navy had been responsible for terrorist acts.
Béjar was taken to task for not presenting any evidence to back up his comments, and some opposition members had called Monday for his resignation.
Jorge Montoya, a retired admiral and a current legislator for the conservative Popular Renewal oarty, said Béjar's comments “are tremendously damaging the image of the Foreign Ministry and tarnishing the prestige of our armed forces.”
The navy disputed the comments, saying in a statement Monday that “the Peruvian Navy deplores statements of this nature that seek to distort the history of national pacification.”
Castillo, a leftist political novice who is the first Peruvian president of peasant origins. has not made any public comment.
Shining Path is a Maoist-inspired group that began its fight against Peru’s government in 1980, but was weakened by the 1992 capture of its leader, Abimael Guzmán, and many of its other leaders.
Béjar was not the only Cabinet member being criticized. Prime Minister Guido Bellido has been lambasted for homophobic and misogynists comments made some years ago in his social media accounts, and the opposition has asked for his resignation.
The Associated Press