Manuel Merino

Last updated

Manuel Merino
Manuel Merino de Lama (cropped).jpg
Merino in 2020
61st President of Peru
In office
10 November 2020 15 November 2020
Prime Minister Ántero Flores Aráoz
Preceded by Martín Vizcarra
Succeeded by Francisco Sagasti [1]
President of Congress
In office
16 March 2020 15 November 2020
Vice President1st Vice President
Luis Valdez Farías
2nd Vice President
Guillermo Aliaga
3rd Vice President
María Teresa Cabrera
Preceded by Pedro Olaechea
Succeeded by Rocío Silva Santisteban (acting)
First Vice President of Congress
In office
26 July 2011 26 July 2012
President Daniel Abugattás
Preceded by Alejandro Aguinaga
Succeeded byMarco Falconí
Member of Congress
In office
16 March 2020 26 July 2021
Constituency Tumbes
In office
25 July 2011 26 July 2016
Constituency Tumbes
In office
26 July 2001 26 July 2006
Constituency Tumbes
Personal details
Born
Manuel Arturo Merino de Lama

(1961-08-20) 20 August 1961 (age 60)
Tumbes, Peru
NationalityPeruvian
Political party Popular Action
Spouse(s)
(m. 1985)
Children3
Alma mater National University of Tumbes
Occupation
  • Politician
  • agronomist

Manuel Arturo Merino de Lama (born 20 August 1961) [2] is a Peruvian politician who briefly served as the president of Peru for five days between 10 and 15 November 2020. [3] [4] He also serves as a Member of Congress (AP) representing the Tumbes constituency for the 2020–2021 term. [5] He previously served in Congress in the 2001–2006 term and 2011–2016 term. He also served as the President of Congress from 16 March 2020 to 15 November 2020.

Contents

On 9 November 2020, the Congress impeached and removed President Martín Vizcarra from office on the grounds of "moral incapacity", a vague term dating back to the 19th century. [6] The move was seen as a coup by many Peruvians, [7] political analysts [6] and media outlets in the country, [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] with Vizcarra's removal resulting with the beginning of the 2020 Peruvian protests. The following day, as the President of the Peruvian Congress, Merino became the new president of Peru following the line of succession established in the nation's constitution, [13] forming a far-right government. [14] [15] [16] [17] Five days after taking office, he resigned from the presidency as a result of two deaths in the protests. [18] He was succeeded by Francisco Sagasti.

Early life and education

Manuel Arturo Merino de Lama was born on 20 August 1961 in the northern city of Tumbes. He is the son of Pedro Merino Hidalgo and Elba de Lama Barreto. In 1985, he married Mary Jacqueline Peña Carruitero, an early childhood teacher. The couple have three children, Elba Jacqueline, Sandra Lisbeth and María Teresa. [2] [19]

Merino completed his elementary education at the Santa María de la Frontera School in 1973, and he finished his secondary education at the "Inmaculada Concepción" Educational Center in 1978, both in the city of Tumbes.

In 1979, he enrolled at the National University of Piura (later the National University of Tumbes) to study agronomics. He subsequently dropped out and did not complete his undergraduate studies. [20] That same year, Merino registered with the center-right political party Popular Action. [21] [7] From Tumbes, he integrated into the Youth Command, later becoming an active member of the party.

Business career

In 1983, Merino was initially an agricultural producer and merchant, at the same time he dedicating himself to raising cattle, serving as a member of the Tumbes Livestock Fund (FONGAN), president of Marketing of the Association of Banana Producers, president of the Association of Traders of Bananas and Fruits in General, member of the Tumbes Agriculture Defense Committee, representative of the Agrarian Producers of Tumbes, president of the Electoral Committee of the Irrigation Commission of the Left Bank of the Tumbes River, and president of the Permanent Commission of the Agrarian Debt of Tumbes. [22]

In December 2000, Merino coordinated directly with the different agrarian organizations of the department, to obtain the cancellation of the debts contracted with the State and the refinancing of the same with the private financial entities. [23]

Political career

Early political career

In 1979, he enrolled at the National University of Piura (later the National University of Tumbes) to study agronomics. He subsequently dropped out and did not complete his undergraduate studies. [20] That same year, Merino registered with the center-right political party Popular Action. [21] [7] From Tumbes, he integrated into the Youth Command, later becoming an active member of the party.

Congress of the Republic of Peru

In 2000, he presided over the National Unity Front made up of political parties and movements. He was subsequently chosen by the Popular Action party to run for a seat in Congress in the 2001 general election. [24] [25] Merino was elected to Congress with the highest vote count in Tumbes for the 2001–2006 term. [26] At the 2006 general election, Merino failed to attain reelection, as the Center Front coalition only obtained five seats nationally, mostly from Lima. [27]

In the following years, Merino took an active role in the National Executive Committee of Popular Action, which propelled him to once again run for the Congress in the 2011 general election. As part of the Possible Peru Electoral Alliance, which united Popular Action, We Are Peru, and Possible Peru, he was successfully elected for the Tumbes constituency for the 2011–2016 term. [28]

From 2011 to 2012, Merino served as First Vice President of the Congress, during Daniel Abugattás congressional presidency. Likewise, from 2012 to 2013, he chaired the Housing Committee. He was also an alternate spokesperson for the Popular Action-Broad Front parliamentary caucus, and Vice President of the Amazon Congressional Caucus, from 2011 to 2013. [29] In the 2016 general election, Merino again failed to attain reelection, as the Popular Action only obtained five seats nationally, mostly from Lima.

In March 2020, an investigation into potential nepotism was initiated against Merino. [6] [30] While a member of congress between 2011 and 2016, his mother and two brothers were contracted by the Peruvian government and paid $55,000 for services, which is not permitted due to his membership in congress. [6] His brother was granted another government contract one month before Merino took office in March 2020. [30] Merino denied any allegations of nepotism. [6] [30]

President of Congress

In the 2020 election, Merino was elected to Congress for a third time, once again representing Tumbes to complete the 2016-2021 parliamentary term in the aftermath of the 2019 Peruvian constitutional crisis. [31] Due to being the most experienced congressman of the first parliamentary majority caucus (AP), he was elected President of Congress on 16 March 2020, with 93 votes in favor against Rocío Silva Santisteban (FA), who only obtained 14 votes. [32] [33] [34]

First impeachment process against Martín Vizcarra

On 11 September 2020, Congress initiated impeachment proceedings against President Martín Vizcarra, for alleged "permanent moral incapacity". [35] The determining factor for the motion to be approved was that it reach the number of necessary votes (26), which was achieved hours later. [36]

Merino faced criticism regarding how he hastily pushed for impeachment proceedings against Vizcarra. [37] If Vizcarra were to be removed from office, Merino would assume the presidential office given his position in congress and due to the absence of vice presidents for Vizcarra. [37] [A] Renowned reporter Gustavo Gorriti reported on 12 September that Merino had contacted the Commanding General of the Peruvian Navy, Fernando Cerdán, notifying him that he was going to attempt to impeach Vizcarra and was seeking to assume the presidency. [38] Minister of Defense Jorge Chávez confirmed that Merino had tried to establish support with the military. [38] Subsequent reports were later released that Merino had contacted officials throughout the government while preparing to create a transitional cabinet [37] [39] and that Merino had tried to communicate with the Chief of the Joint Command of the Peruvian Armed Forces, César Astudillo Salcedo, and Navy Commander, Fernando Cerdán, in order to "give them peace of mind". [40] Following the release of these reports, support for impeaching Vizcarra decreased among members of congress. [37]

President Vizcarra was summoned – upon approval of the motion – to exercise his right of defense. On 18 September, after a long session, Congress held the impeachment vote after hearing the president and his legal counsel, which was rejected with 78 votes against, 32 in favor and 15 abstentions. [41] [42] [43]

Second impeachment process against Martín Vizcarra

On 20 October 2020, the Union for Peru parliamentary caucus – citing as strong evidence against Vizcarra the media revelations on his tenure as Governor of Moquegua – issued a second impeachment motion, which was supported by Broad Front, Podemos Perú, two congressmen from Popular Action and an independent. In order to gain more evidence against the President, Merino and the congressional leadership agreed on delaying the debate on the motion until 2 November. The motion was subsequently approved, and Vizcarra was summoned once again to exercise his defense with the assistance of his legal counsel. [44]

On 9 November 2020, following Vizcarra's appearance before Congress, Merino initiated the final debate in order to proceed to voting on the impeachment at night. [45] The impeachment vote reached a total of 105 votes in favor, 19 against, and 2 abstentions, thus effectively removing Vizcarra from office. [46]

Due to the accepted resignation of Mercedes Aráoz as Second Vice President six months before, the constitutional succession allowed Merino to ascend to the presidency of Peru in his position of President of Congress. [47] The decision was widely dismissed by the media and the population, sparking the beginning of widespread protests throughout Peru in sign of disapproval. [48] Vizcarra ultimately accepted his removal from office, and departed from the Government Palace on the same night. [49]

President of Peru

Merino was inaugurated at 10:42 a.m. (Peru Time) on 10 November 2020, in the midst of protests across the country against his ascension to the presidency. [50] [51] [52] [53] [54] The following day, under the pressure of forming a new government, he named Ántero Flores Aráoz, a conservative politician and former Minister of Defense under former President Alan García, as Prime Minister. [55] [56] [57]

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, expressed his concern about the issue and "reiterates that it is the responsibility of the Constitutional Court of Peru to rule on the legality and legitimacy of the institutional decisions adopted." [58]

His assumption of the presidency, due to the vacancy against Martín Vizcarra, was questioned by various sectors of the population. [59]

On November 13, Merino was invited to participate in the annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum. [60]

During his first public pronouncements, Merino expressed support for the scheduled elections in April 2021, called for health and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in Peru, and promoted law and order within the country. [7] Protests continued, however, with heavy police response to demonstrations on 14 November resulting with the deaths of protesters and the subsequent resignation of the majority of Merino's ministers. [61]

Resignation

On 15 November 2020, Merino stepped down as interim president, citing that he acted within the law when he was sworn into office the previous Tuesday and that he would "do everything in my power to guarantee a constitutional succession." [62] [18]

The Constitutional Court of Peru scheduled for Wednesday, November 18, the public hearing on the competence claim filed by the Executive Power on September 14 for the first presidential vacancy process, in which the votes to remove Martín Vizcarra were not obtained. [63] [64]

The succeeding government of Francisco Sagasti announced following Merino's resignation that the attorney general would investigate if he was responsible for possible human rights violations. [65]

On November 20, 2020, the Constitutional Court published its ruling in which it declared the jurisdictional claim inadmissible because it considered that there was a subtraction of the matter and therefore did not make any pronouncement on the merits, which generated academic questions. [66] [67] Later, after Manuel Marino affirmed in a tweet that this decision of the Constitutional Court ratified the constitutionality of his promotion to the Presidency, [68] the magistrate of the Constitutional Court, Eloy Espinosa-Saldaña, stated that this is not correct because the Constitutional Court did not have any pronouncement and that cannot be understood as ratification as Merino affirmed. [69] [70] However, magistrates such as Ernesto Blume, José Luis Sardón and Augusto Ferrero Costa considered in various interviews that Martín Vizcarra's vacancy was in line with the Political Constitution of Peru. [71] [72] [73]

Public opinion

In September 2020, Ipsos polls found that 72% of Peruvians in urban areas disapproved of Merino while 79% believed that Vizcarra should finish his term. [7]

Notes

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  64. GESTIÓN, NOTICIAS (11 November 2020). "TC verá demanda competencial por vacancia presidencial el 18 de noviembre nndc | PERU". Gestión (in Spanish). Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  65. Burt, Jo-Marie (19 November 2020). "Can Francisco Sagasti Hold Peru Together?". Americas Quarterly . Retrieved 7 December 2020.
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  67. PERÚ, NOTICIAS EL COMERCIO (21 November 2020). "Sentencia del TC sobre Vacancia presidencial: sustracción de la materia no implica abdicar en rol de garante de derechos fundamentales nndc | POLITICA". El Comercio Perú (in Spanish). Retrieved 12 May 2021.
  68. PERÚ, NOTICIAS EL COMERCIO (9 December 2020). "Fact checking: Manuel Merino y su frase falsa sobre el proceso de vacancia | POLITICA". El Comercio Perú (in Spanish). Retrieved 12 May 2021.
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  73. LR, Redacción (20 November 2020). "Ferrero: No se puede acusar a 105 congresistas de actuar inconstitucionalmente". larepublica.pe (in Spanish). Retrieved 12 May 2021.
  74. 1 2 3 4 "Disolución del Congreso en Perú: quién es Mercedes Aráoz, que renunció tras ser nombrada 'presidenta en funciones' por el Parlamento peruano para sustituir a Vizcarra" [Dissolution of Congress in Peru: who is Mercedes Aráoz, who resigned after being named "acting president" by the Peruvian Parliament to replace Vizcarra]. BBC Mundo (in Spanish). 2 October 2019. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  75. 1 2 3 "Disolución del Congreso en Perú: 4 claves para entender el enfrentamiento entre Vizcarra y el Parlamento (y lo que puede pasar ahora)" [Dissolution of Congress in Peru: 4 keys to understanding the confrontation between Vizcarra and Parliament (and what can happen now)]. BBC Mundo (in Spanish). 2 October 2019. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  76. 1 2 "Disolución del Congreso de Perú: las dudas sobre la legalidad de la decisión de Vizcarra de disolver la cámara y sobre la suspensión temporal del presidente" [Dissolution of the Congress of Peru: doubts about the legality of Vizcarra's decision to dissolve the chamber and about the temporary suspension of the president]. BBC Mundo (in Spanish). 2 October 2019. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  77. "Disolución del Congreso en Perú: renuncia Mercedes Aráoz, nombrada "presidenta en funciones" por el Parlamento en sustitución de Vizcarra" [Dissolution of Congress in Peru: Mercedes Aráoz, appointed "acting president" by Parliament to replace Vizcarra, resigns]. BBC Mundo (in Spanish). 2 October 2019. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  78. Aráoz Fernández, Mercedes [@MecheAF] (1 October 2019). "He decidido renunciar irrevocablemente al cargo de Vicepresidenta Constitucional de la República. Las razones las explico en la carta adjunta. Espero que mi renuncia conduzca a la convocatoria de elecciones generales en el más breve plazo por el bien del país" [I have decided to irrevocably resign from the post of Constitutional Vice President of the Republic. The reasons are explained in the attached letter. I hope that my resignation will lead to the calling of general elections in the shortest possible time for the good of the country.] (Tweet) (in Spanish) via Twitter.
  79. "Congreso acepta renuncia de Mercedes Aráoz a la segunda vicepresidencia de la República" [Congress accepts the resignation of Mercedes Aráoz to the second vice-presidency of the Republic]. Gestión (in Spanish). 7 May 2020. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
Political offices
Preceded by
Martín Vizcarra
President of Peru
2020
Succeeded by
Francisco Sagasti