Signs of cabinet shuffle start with Finance Minister Luis Carranza

Rumours of changes in the Cabinet are widespread as President Alan Garcia prepares for his Independence Day address to the nation on July 29 and brings the second year of his government to a close.

The first cabinet member expected to make his resignation formal, perhaps as early as this week, is Finance Minister Luis Carranza, while political analysts believe the Minister of Interior, Luis Alva-Castro, and Health Minister Hernán Garrido-Lecca may also be on their way out.

Garcia praised Carranza’s performance Tuesday at a government palace press conference and refused to confirm his resignation, saying he had brought stability to the government, but local news sources reported that Garcia’s statements were a publicity spin and that Garcia allegedly criticized Carranza for not actively seeking out foreign investment for Peru. Carranza first tried to resign in 2007, after a year in the cabinet, but Garcia turned down his resignation at the time.

Carranza’s efficient fiscal policies did not endear him to some of the other cabinet ministers, particularly Luis Alva-Castro, Minister of Interior, Transport and Communications minister Veronica Zavala and Garrido-Lecca, who described him as “austere”, and all of whom allegedly complained to President Garcia after Carranza denied their ministries additional funds.

A probable but yet to-be-confirmed successor to Carranza is Luis Valdivieso, 57, an economist with the International Monetary Fund for the past 30 years and now based in Washington, who worked as advisor in 1992 to Finance Minister Carlos Boloña in President Fujimori’s government. Valdivieso was in Lima recently for talks with President Garcia and has reportedly already met Carranza to talk over details.

According to daily Peru.21, Hernán Garrido-Lecca, who is currently Health Minister after serving as Housing Minister in the first year of this administration, is expected to be sent back to his parliamentary seat. Luis Alva-Castro, meanwhile, is in the hot seat for the inefficient management of June’s miners’ strike in Moquegua that led to 66 police officers and the regional police commander, Gen. Alberto Jordan, being taken hostage by protesters and threatened with lynching before they were released more than 24 hours later. His long-time political power within the APRA party, however, would ensure he would not be sent far away and he may possibly be reassigned to the Housing Ministry.

When questioned about his possible removal, Alva-Castro said that political figures are the easy target of criticism.

“Those who carry out tasks are always being criticized, but what’s important is carrying out the task,” he said. “People who carry out political tasks should be judged by their results, which are in plain sight.”

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