Mexican ambassador expelled from Peru over meddling claims

MEXICO CITY — In a roller-coaster day for Mexico’s relations with Peru, Mexico announced Tuesday it had granted asylum for the family of ousted Peruvian president Pedro Castillo. Hours later, Peru declared the Mexican ambassador to Lima persona non grata and ordered him to leave within 72 hours.

The Peruvian foreign ministry said without elaborating that Castillo’s wife, Lilia Paredes, was under criminal investigation in the South American country, where corruption allegations had dogged her husband’s administration.

Paredes and the couple’s two children were at the Mexican embassy in Lima. Peru said it would allow the family to leave for Mexico, but could later demand Mexico extradite Paredes Navarro if she were to eventually face any charges in Peru.

Peru’s foreign ministry said in its social media accounts Tuesday that it was expelling Mexican Ambassador Pablo Monroy because “of the repeated statement by that country’s highest authorities about the political situation in Peru.”

That was an apparent reference to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who said Castillo’s removal from office after trying to dissolve Peru’s Congress on Dec. 7 was improper.

The Peruvian lawmakers swiftly ousted Castillo that same day and he was placed under arrest, facing investigation on accusations of trying to usurp power in violation the country’s constitutional order.

Peruvian officials have said López Obrador’s comments represented meddling in Peru’s internal affairs.

Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department said its embassy in Peru would remain open and operate normally, and that it had instructed Ambassador Monroy to return to Mexico.

Also Tuesday, Peru’s Congress tentatively endorsed a plan to hold early elections in an attempt to defuse the ongoing national political crisis that has touched off deadly street protests since Castillo’s removal from office.

The proposal, approved by 91 of the legislature’s 130 members, would push up to April 2024 elections for president and congress originally scheduled for 2026. The plan — which seeks to add one article to Peru’s constitution — must be ratified by another two-thirds majority in the next annual legislative session for it to be adopted.

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