Mexico Considers Asylum Request from Peru’s Ex-President Castillo

Mexico’s ambassador to Peru, Pablo Monroy, met with the ousted Peruvian president in a Lima prison on Thursday

Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard with Peru's former president Pedro Castillo, on August 4, 2022, during Ebrard's visit to Peru. (Photo courtesy of the government of Mexico)
December 08, 2022 | 10:02 PM

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Mexico City — Mexico’s government entered into consultations with the government of Peru on Thursday after former president Pedro Castillo ratified his request for political asylum in Mexico, the latter country’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on his Twitter account.

Mexico’s ambassador to Peru, Pablo Monroy, reported to Ebrard from Lima that he was able to meet with Castillo on Thursday afternoon at the prison where the former president is being held, and who, Monroy said, is physically well and in the company of his lawyer.

After the meeting between the ambassador and the former president, Ebrard said that the Mexican government has initiated consultations with the Peruvian authorities regarding Castillo’s asylum request, and which was received at the Mexican embassy at 2:00 a.m. local time on Thursday.

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In the written request, Castillo’s lawyer, Víctor Gilbert Pérez, addressed Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to request that, in view of the latest political events, he consider granting asylum to the ousted former president, who had been in office since July 2021.

The lawyer said that the asylum responds “to the unfounded persecution of the judiciary that has taken on a political character in its actions with respect to this person [Castillo], to such an extent that they intend to prosecute him for mere announcements of will or intentions that do not constitute any criminal offense”.

The lawyer says in the written request that the Peruvian judiciary created “a climate of extreme defenselessness and of purely political persecution” against Castillo.

The lawyer assured that his client is at grave risk.

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“I beg you to grant this request for the protection of his life and integrity”.

López Obrador had said on Wednesday following the ousting of Castillo that the Mexican embassy’s door in Lima be “opened” to Castillo, should the former president seek asylum.

Possible prison term

Castillo faces as many as 20 years in prison if found guilty of the crime of rebellion, and judge Juan Carlos Checkley on Thursday ordered Castillo be held through December 13 for additional investi

gations, considering him a flight risk.

The seriousness of the alleged crimes of rebellion and conspiracy “augur a grave sanction,” Checkley said in his ruling.

Castillo’s decision to suspend Congress, rewrite the constitution, order a curfew and reorganize the courts “typifies the crime of rebellion,” prosecutor Marco Huaman said during the ousted president’s presentation before the judge.

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A suspect found guilty of such crime “shall be punished with a prison sentence of not less than 10 years and not more than 20 years,” Huaman said.

Castillo faced possible removal from office through an impeachment vote when he tried to dissolve congress. But his announcement triggered an immediate backlash, with ministers resigning en masse and the military speaking out against the plans. Lawmakers quickly moved to oust him for “permanent moral incapacity,” appointing Vice President Dina Boluarte as new head of state.

Castillo, 53, spent the night at the same penitentiary that is holding former president Alberto Fujimori, author of Peru’s previous presidential coup in 1992. During the online hearing, Castillo remained nearly silent and deferred questions to his lawyers.

The left-wing former president did not undertake an armed uprising, defense lawyer Victor Perez said. Nor are there signed documents showing that he in fact formally ordered the congress dissolved, which he announced in a video broadcast before his impeachment, he said.

-- With additional information from Bloomberg News