President Ollanta Humala flew to Panama Thursday night to join 35 other heads of state and government leaders in the hemisphere’s 7th Summit of the Americas.
This year’s summit focuses on Prosperity with Equity: The Challenge of Cooperation in the Americas. One of the most-watched moments will be the meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuba’s head of government, Raul Castro, following a renewal of relations between both countries since the U.S. slapped a financial and commercial embargo on Cuba in 1962.
Humala, accompanied by newly appointed Foreign Affairs minister Ana Maria Sanchez, was granted travelling permission at the last minute by Congress, with 60 votes in favor and 30 against.
The Fujimorista members of Congress strongly opposed giving the President permission to travel, demanding that he first apologize for snapping back at them earlier in the week.
The opposition is piqued because the President called his wife’s critics a “pack of cowards.” During a visit to Ayacucho, the President defended the First Lady, Nadine Heredia, against critics of her prominent public role, saying that “she works more than a public official and doesn’t charge [for it] like they or members of the Congress do.”
Humala said there is a certain traditional political class that cannot forgive the success or work of others, “even more so when it’s a woman.” He added, “I believe in the end it will take its toll on the people who only know how to insult, only know how to attack women without any reason.”
Heredia, who is interim head of the ruling Nationalist Party, has been the butt of criticism as a result of her high profile in the government and although under Peruvian law she cannot run for president immediately after her husband’s term, she is seen as a political threat to contenders in the Fujimorista and Aprista parties, namely Keiko Fujimori and Alan Garcia.