Opposition Lawmakers To Support No Confidence Vote For Ministers

Opposition lawmakers say they will support a vote of no confidence for Interior Minister Daniel Lozada and Defense Minister Alberto Otarola, due to their handling of the incidents involving Shining Path remnants in the Apurimac and Ene River Valley, or VRAE, daily El Comercio reported.

Spokespersons for the Alianza por el Gran Cambio, Solidaridad Nacional and Concertacion Parlamentaria said Monday that they would support the vote.

“For Alianza por el Gran Cambio we absolutely support the decision of the government to systematically confront drug trafficking and terrorism, but there is  no way we are going to support the ministers, who lied to Congress,” said legislator Juan Carlos Eguren.

The spokesman for Solidaridad Nacional, Jose Luna Galvez, said the ministers’ plans for combating the Shining Path remnants in the VRAE is “inefficient and must be corrected immediately.”

Lawmaker Carlos Bruce said they have enough support for the vote to pass. “To reinforce the fight against these criminals, we have to have new faces that will provide us with all the confidence that they will do things well,” Bruce said. “This will be the biggest hit to terrorism.”

In April, Shining Path rebels kidnapped 36 natural gas workers in the province of La Convencion, in Cuzco region. The incident was the first major kidnapping by the Shining Path remnants since 2003, when they took some 70 workers from an Argentine company working in the natural gas industry.

The workers were released six days after being snatched, allegedly after the gas contract companies paid a ransom. However, and although the military and police operation was not directly involved in the release, a number of the law enforcement personnel were killed in operations aimed at rescuing the hostages.

Two police also went missing during the operation. One of them —Luis Astuquillca— walked out of the jungle, injured, some 17 days after going missing, while the body of another —Cesar Vilca— was retrieved from the undergrowth by his father, who traveled to the zone with the help of local indigenous guides.

These incidents are seen as a major embarrassment to the government — particularly since President Humala was quick to declare the joint military police operation as impeccable in the release of the hostages —and highlights the state’s lack of a coherent plan for the area and its inability to gain control over swaths of Peruvian territory.

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