Peru Cabinet Chief Juan Jimenez to Leave Humala GovernmentAndrew Davis and John Quigley
Juan Jimenez will become Peru’s third cabinet chief to leave the government in two years, at a time when President Ollanta Humala’s approval rating is hovering at a record low.
Jimenez told reporters in Lima today he’ll be replaced by Cesar Villanueva, president of the regional government of San Martin. His exit is part of an effort by Humala to “refresh” the cabinet, Jimenez said in an interview yesterday on the television program “Buenas Noches.” Discussions with Humala about him stepping down had been under way for months, he said.
Humala took office in July 2011 vowing to boost spending on the estimated 8 million Peruvians in the nation of 30 million living in extreme poverty, without jeopardizing $50 billion in mining investments expected over the next decade. Humala’s popularity has sunk as growth slows.
Villanueva will be sworn in tomorrow, La Republica reported on its website. Humala may replace six other ministers including Finance Minister Miguel Castilla, the Lima-based newspaper said, without saying where it obtained the information.
The sol advanced 0.2 percent to 2.76 per U.S. dollar at today’s close, according to prices from Datatec. The Lima Stock Exchange’s general index dropped 0.5 percent at 16,309.78.
Finance Minister Miguel Castilla denied Sept. 17 he planned to leave government after Correo newspaper reported he would resign to take up a World Bank post in Washington.
“Provided that Castilla remains or is replaced by somebody of a similar view or stature, the market will feel sanguine about” the cabinet changes, said Pedro Tuesta, a Washington-based Latin America economist, 4Cast Inc., in an e-mail.
Peru’s economy, which grew an average 6.5 percent a year in the past decade, expanded 4.3 percent in August from the same month in 2012, the second-slowest annual pace since January 2010. The Finance Ministry’s chief adviser, Alonso Segura, said Oct. 25 that South America’s sixth-largest economy will expand “slightly below” 5.5 percent this year, less than the 5.7 percent rate the ministry forecast two months earlier.
Humala’s approval rating fell to 26 percent in October from 27 percent in September and the lowest since he took office, according to an Ipsos Peru poll published Oct. 21. His disapproval rating was 66 percent. Ipsos said 69 percent of those who disapproved of Humala said he isn’t delivering on his promises and 49 percent cited crime as a reason.
The pollster interviewed 1,208 people Oct. 15-16 and the poll had a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.
Jimenez will depart after he said in an Oct. 28 television interview that Peruvians were overreacting to rising crime rates and that “hysteria” over the issue was affecting the government. Jimenez, a human rights lawyer, was justice minister before taking over as cabinet chief in July last year.
Rising delinquency and organized crime in Peru led Humala to step up spending on the military and police. The country is the world’s largest cocaine exporter, according to estimates by the U.S. government.
Jimenez pledged to tighten security at the country’s jails after a prison director was slain by a gunman while he ate lunch at a restaurant last week in Trujillo, the largest city on the country’s northern coast.