Pedro Castillo, the ex-president of Peru who was removed from office by that country’s Congress on Wednesday, tried to get to Mexico’s embassy in Lima to seek asylum, President López Obrador said Thursday.
He said that Castillo — who was ousted due to “moral incapacity” just hours after he attempted to dissolve the Congress by decree and establish a new emergency government — called him to tell him he was going to Mexico’s Embassy in the Peruvian capital.
“He told me he was on his way to the embassy, but surely they had already tapped his phone,” López Obrador told reporters at his regular news conference.
“He was going to seek asylum,” he said, adding that he spoke with Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard and directed him to contact Mexico’s ambassador to Peru to ensure the embassy’s doors were opened to Castillo “in accordance with our tradition of asylum.”
But police and citizens surrounded the embassy, and Castillo never arrived because he was arrested, the president said.
“We ask that his human rights be respected. That they act with true legality, that his family is protected,” López Obrador said.
Mexico’s ambassador to Peru, Pablo Monroy, visited the ex-president in prison on Thursday, according to reports by Peruvian media outlets.
Castillo, a former teacher and union leader who was sworn in as president in July last year, is being held in a police prison in Lima where another former president, Alberto Fujimori, is detained, according to a report by the Reuters news agency.
Ebrard said on Twitter Thursday afternoon that Monroy found Castillo “physically well” and in the company of his lawyer. He also posted a letter in which the lawyer formally requested asylum in Mexico for his client.
Castillo’s first international trip as president was to Mexico in September 2021 to attend the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States summit.
López Obrador, who has made no secret of his admiration of Castillo, said on Twitter Wednesday that the ex-president faced “an atmosphere of confrontation and hostility” from the beginning of his “legitimate presidency” due to “the interests of the economic and political elite.”
He said Thursday that he was a “victim of harassment and confrontation” and considered an uncultured “mountain-dweller” by the political and economic elite in Peru.
“He told me once that when he used to walk in Lima there were ladies who covered their noses when he went by” López Obrador said.
“… He was always harassed and they weakened him until they managed to remove him. That’s the decision these elites took. I don’t believe it’s the best thing for the people. I feel very sorry for the people of Peru, because it’s a lot of instability [to have] five presidents in six years.”