New ministers sworn in by Peru president

Four new ministers were sworn in today by Peru President Alan García in a Cabinet shuffle intended to inject new energy into the government, incorporate independents, and begin moving ahead on some of the reforms and promises offered during the presidential campaign 18 months ago. Jorge del Castillo remains as cabinet chief.

The new ministers are Ántero Flores-Aráoz in Defense, Rosario Fernandez as Justice Minister, Mario Pasco to head the Labor Ministry, and Enrique Cornejo in Housing.

Before his appointment to Defense, Flores-Araoz served as Peru’s ambassador to the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. He is an independent, and was one of the leaders of the Social-Christian PPC party until his resignation earlier this year. He succeeds Allan Wagner, a career diplomat who is to head Peru’s defense mission to The Hague in the dispute with Chile over territorial waters in the Pacific.

In the Labor Ministry, Mario Pasco is an independent, a founder of the Peruvian Society for Labor and Social Security Law and professor of law at the Universidad Católica. He replaces Susana Pinilla, who has been reassigned to head the Women and Social Development Ministry, succeeding Virginia Borra.

The new Housing Minister, Enrique Cornejo, a key figure in the ruling Aprista party, is an economist and university professor, and until this week was executive president of the state-owned Banco de la Nación. He succeeds the frequently criticized Hernán Garrido-Lecca, who has been reassigned to head the Health Ministry in replacement of Carlos Vallejo.

The new Minister of Justice is Rosario Fernandez, who succeeds María Zavala at a challenging time, just as former President Fujimori’s trials on human rights abuses and corruption begin to unfold.

The new Cabinet has received mixed reviews. For instance, ex-presidential candidate and head of the National Unity party, Lourdes Flores Nano, told Radio Programas that Rosario Fernández “is a very valuable woman. I have the greatest intellectual and professional respect for her.” “She is extremely competent, I’m very happy to see her in the position.”

However, the former director of Peru’s National Library, sociologist Sinesio López, told daily La República, “it is a mockery to assign the Justice Ministry to Rosario Fernández,” recalling her legal defense of Ernesto Schütz, the former president of Magnavisión and Channel 5 TV who was caught on tape receiving bribes from Peru’s jailed ex-spy chief, Vladimiro Montesinos.

“It is clear there is no intention on fighting corruption,” adds López. “In politics nothing is an error, everything is very well thought out.”

Meanwhile, Gino Costa, vice-minister and later minister of Interior during the Toledo administration, said on Ideele radio that it was clear to him that by keeping Luis Alva Castro on as Interior Minister, “an official who cannot even buy patrol cars or tear-gas cannisters,” President Garcia “has shown that he has no interest in citizen safety.”

The new cabinet is formed by:

Cabinet Chief, Jorge del Castillo

Agriculture Minister, Ismael Benavides

Defense Minister, Ántero Flores-Aráoz

Economy & Finance Minister, Luís Carranza

Education Minister, José Antonio Chang

Energy Minister, Juan Valdivia

Foreign Trade and Tourism Minister, Mercedes Aráoz

Foreign Affairs Minister, José Antonio García-Belaunde

Health Minister, Hernán Garrido-Lecca

Housing Minister, Enrique Cornejo

Justice Minister, Rosario Fernández

Interior Minister, Luís Alva Castro

Labor & Employment Development Minister, Mario Pasco

Production Minister, Rafael Rey

Transport and Communications Minister, Verónica Zavala

Women and Social Development Minister, Susana Pinilla

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