Peru has announced a “definitive recall” of its ambassador to Colombia, accusing its neighbour, as it did with Mexico last month, of downplaying Former President Pedro Castillo’s recent attempted power grab which led to his removal and arrest.
The Peruvian foreign ministry said on Wednesday that the move followed “repeated interference and offensive expressions” by leftist Colombian President Gustavo Petro, who was “distorting reality by ignoring that on December 7, 2022, a coup d’etat took place in Peru perpetrated by former President Pedro Castillo”.
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During the Ibero-American summit last week in the Dominican Republic, Petro lamented that Castillo was not present, saying he “should be here, (but) is in prison … They took him out with a coup.”
Peru’s Foreign Minister Ana Cecilia Gervasi responded during the summit, explaining that “if Pedro Castillo is not here, it is because he carried out a coup”.
With Wednesday’s announcement, diplomatic relations between the two South American countries are now formally at the level of charge d’affaires, according to the foreign ministry.
Petro’s “continuous interfering expressions have seriously deteriorated the historical relationship of friendship, cooperation and mutual respect that has existed between Peru and Colombia,” the statement added.
Castillo, 53, has been behind bars since December 7 when he was arrested after attempting to dissolve parliament and rule by decree.
The leftist leader had been trying to ward off a third vote in Congress to impeach him for alleged corruption.
His removal sparked mass nationwide protests that have left at least 54 people dead and some 600 injured from clashes between demonstrators and security forces.
Protesters have demanded the resignation of Castillo’s successor, his former vice president Dina Boluarte.
They also want immediate elections, a new constitution and the dissolution of parliament.
Boluarte first recalled Peru’s ambassador to Colombia for consultations in December, while the Peruvian Congress in February declared Petro persona non grata.
On February 25, she also announced the definitive recall of Peru’s ambassador to Mexico, alleging that Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had also violated the principle of non-interference in internal affairs.
Lopez Obrador has repeatedly called Castillo’s removal “illegal”.
The diplomatic dispute has frozen operations of the Pacific Alliance – a trade group comprising Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico, as Lopez Obrador refuses to hand over the rotating presidency to Boluarte.