Avelino Guillén has presented his resignation as head of the Ministry of the Interior this Friday after more than a month of tension with the Commander General of the Police, Javier Gallardo, who stopped dispatching with him after the government official rejected the withdrawal and change of placement of outstanding and specialized agents. The conflict led the minister to request the dismissal of the police chief from President Pedro Castillo, according to the digital media IDL-Reporters. But after a few weeks, the request has not materialized.
Guillén’s letter of resignation —the third minister to hold the Interior portfolio in the Castillo Government— comes on the day the president completes six months as head of the Executive, a time in which he has changed more than half of its ministers, and while the country is experiencing an increase in crime. On Wednesday, the authorities decreed a 45-day state of emergency in the Lima and Callao regions that allows the Armed Forces to collaborate with the police in patrolling and the suspension of certain fundamental rights such as the right to assembly or the inviolability of the home.
The disagreements between Guillén and Gallardo date back to the end of last year when, after the minister rejected the personnel changes requested by the police commander, he insisted on appointing personnel without merit. Guillén was the prosecutor who investigated crimes committed by the autocrat Alberto Fujimori and his former adviser and de facto head of the Armed Forces, Vladimiro Montesinos, and was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the massacres of La Cantuta and Barrios Altos, committed by the Colina military detachment in 1992 and 1991, respectively.
according to the weekly Hildebrandt in his thirteenSince September, General Gallardo has removed more than 1,700 experienced police officers from key police units — such as the one in charge of operations against organized crime and the fight against corruption and the anti-drug division — and transferred them, without argument, to other areas. Police sources assured that medium that the increase in crimes and delinquency in Lima and Callao is due to these changes.
At the beginning of the month, Guillén had announced that, if the state of emergency was approved, police officers from the Directorate of Special Operations would patrol some districts on the outskirts of the capital and the Armed Forces would support them in the center of the city, but that protocols were necessary of acting On Thursday, January 13, Congress approved a motion —with 80 votes in favor and 22 against— asking the Executive to declare a state of emergency to counteract the wave of citizen insecurity and order exceptional measures.
Insecurity is one of the biggest concerns of Peruvians. According to a survey carried out in December by Ipsos Peru, 56% of citizens considered that crime control would be worse in the next twelve months, while 29% expected it to remain the same. In addition, 30% of those consulted about what they would give the country in 2022, answered the reduction of crime and drug trafficking. It was the fourth problem mentioned after economic and health concerns linked to the pandemic.
Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.
For the time being, President Castillo has not commented on the resignation. At the end of Friday afternoon, the head of state was still carrying out activities in the Ancash region – north of Lima – and had not spoken with the president of the council of ministers, Mirtha Vásquez, about Guillén’s resignation letter. The Prime Minister has publicly said that she supports the retention of the Minister of the Interior, and therefore the retirement of the Commander-in-Chief of the Police. Executive sources project that the outcome will occur over the weekend.
Guillén assumed as the third holder of the Interior portfolio when the Government had been installed for three months. The former prosecutor was a member of Castillo’s technical team during the campaign for the second round of elections last June, and was appointed minister in early November after the scandal caused by a party at the house of then-minister Luis Barranzuela. This official had warned Peruvians in October that – to avoid crowds and transmission of the new coronavirus – social gatherings were prohibited due to Hallowe’en and the day of the Creole song, which is celebrated on the same date in the Andean country.
Subscribe here to Newsletter of EL PAÍS America and receive all the informative keys of the current affairs of the region
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.