Peru: The coup plot

Photo: El Pais

Since last December 7, a military-parliamentary dictatorship has been consolidating in Peru, using as its “institutional” façade the former Vice-President Dina Boluarte, who betrayed the ousted President Pedro Castillo and became a hostage of the army, Fujimorism and the racist and classist Lima oligarchy at the service of the large international extractivist corporations. A rampant coup d’état that always had the backing of the United States.

In connection with the generals, the main operator of the coup plot in the Parliament was its current president, retired general José Williams Zapata, former head of the Joint Command of the Peruvian Armed Forces and representative of the conservative group Avanza País, who, during the second round of the 2021 elections supported the ultra-right Keiko Fujimori, against her opponent, Pedro Castillo, who was elected.

Like many members of the Peruvian Congress, José Williams Zapata’s curriculum vitae exposes his repressive and corrupt side. According to the Peruvian Superintendence of Banking, Insurance, and Pension Fund Administrators, in 2006, when he was still president of the Joint Army Command, Williams was accused of illicit enrichment to the detriment of the State and had five bank accounts withheld. In 2021, he was accused of cover-up in the massacre of Accomarca (1985), where 69 community members were murdered. Likewise, and according to the National Police Anti-Drug Division (Divandro), the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and WikiLeaks, when General Jose Williams Zapata was head of the Northern Military Region of Piura (from 2004 to 2005), he was linked to the Tijuana cartel, founded in Baja California, Mexico, by the Arellano Felix brothers in the 1980s.

According to, in 2010, when WikiLeaks leaked secret diplomatic documents from the US embassy in Lima, Williams, then head of the military region in Piura, had ties to collaborators of the Mexican criminal organization. On March 12, 2009, the US ambassador in Lima, Michael McKinley, sent a secret cable to the State Department warning that Williams Zapata was allegedly linked to former Captain Jonathan Huacac Torrico (identified by Divandro as a collaborator of the Tijuana cartel), and had been seen meeting with Mexican drug lords in the Military Casino of that military region.

With this record, Williams Zapata would have been one of the main articulators of the coup plan from Congress against Castillo, in coordination with the Peruvian military high command and the US ambassador in Lima, Lisa Kenna, a former agent of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), who relied on the military attaché of that diplomatic mission, Mariano Alvarado, operations officer of the Pentagon’s Military Assistance and Advisory Group (MAAG), who maintains close contact with the Peruvian generals.

According to sources linked to the hierarchs of transnational corporations in Lima, the coup plot had been hatched since last September as part of a sophisticated intelligence operation. As Congress did not have the necessary votes to remove him from office, they made President Castillo believe that he had the support of the armed forces and the police and induced him to dissolve the Parliament (so that he would deliberately break the constitutional order). For that purpose, they forged polls (which they only showed him) and made him believe that he had more than 40 percent of popular support and the Congress only 8 percent so that it would be very easy to overthrow him and he would be acclaimed by the crowd.

In addition to the army and the police, the plan involved the attorney general’s office, the comptroller’s office, ministers, congressmen, and Vice President Boluarte. After the president read his message to the nation dissolving the House and installing a “government of exception”, several ministers resigned in series. Castillo then sought the support of the armed forces through his military aides-de-camp and got no response. There he realized that he had been set up, but it was too late. State security even held him in the palace while they waited for the congressional vote to strip him of his immunity. He was then told that a supposed plan B had been agreed upon: to seek asylum in the Mexican embassy. Already then, one of the plotters had arranged for Castillo’s diplomatic asylum in the Mexican mission. But moments after Congress declared the presidential vacancy, accusing him of alleged rebellion, Castillo was arrested by a SWAT commando of the national police. He was taken to the Comptroller’s Office, and the Attorney General immediately appeared while Boluarte was waiting at home to be called to assume as President of the Republic.

The only one who was not involved in the coup plot was the general commander of the army, Walter Córdova, who, according to the newspaper La República, on December 5 had been pressured by the head of Parliament, José Williams, to leave his post because there were “serious accusations” against him that affected the “institutionality” of the Army. Another version states that the joint army command intimidated him: “You align yourself or you resign.” Likewise, on the eve of the coup, U.S. Ambassador Lisa Kenna met with Defense Minister Gustavo Bobbio, who, like Córdova, resigned on December 7. According to the Lima newspaper, the last phone call Castillo took before leaving the presidential palace came from the U.S. embassy. On December 7, Kenna sent a tweet denouncing Castillo’s measure to dissolve Congress, and from Washington, making use of the old gringo mythology on representative democracy, the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, blessed the coup.

The long hand of the US is also behind the appointment of the new head of the National Intelligence Directorate, retired Colonel Juan Carlos Liendo O’Connor, a former liaison officer in the Pentagon’s Southern Command closely linked to the dictatorship of Alberto Fujimori and his alter ego, Vladimiro Montesinos, both imprisoned for crimes against humanity. Liendo guarantees the ongoing repression and militarization in Peru.

Source: La Jornada, translation Internationalist 360°

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