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Former central bank economist named Peru’s new finance chief

PERU’S new President Dina Boluarte named a US-educated economist who has spent most of his career at the central bank as economy minister, potentially soothing investor nerves after last week’s political chaos.

The new finance chief, Alex Contreras, served as deputy economy minister under former President Pedro Castillo, who was ousted on Dec. 7. Contreras worked at the central bank between 2007 and 2019, according to his resume on the ministry’s website. He has also taught macroeconomics, monetary theory, statistics and econometrics in local universities.

Ms. Boluarte is trying to seek allies in congress and establish her authority after the chaos triggered by Mr. Castillo’s downfall on Dec. 7. Peru’s stocks, bonds and currency initially slumped after Mr. Castillo attempted to dissolve congress, then rebounded when he was impeached and then arrested hours later.

Ms. Boluarte also named Oscar Vera as her Mining and Energy Minister. Vera is a chemical engineer who previously worked at the state oil company Petroperu, according to newspaper La Republica.

Pedro Angulo, a former prosecutor, takes over as the sixth prime minister since Mr. Castillo took office less than 18 months ago. 

Supporters of Mr. Castillo are still protesting in cities across the country and blocking some highways, demanding his release from detention and new elections. Roadblocks are affecting a strategically important route that links southern provinces where agro-industrial exports such as blueberries and grapes are produced, with Callao, Peru’s biggest port, as well as with the capital.

Two police officers were kidnapped by demonstrators in the southern city of Andahuaylas, and 20 people were injured on Saturday in a fourth day of disturbances, according to La Republica.

The demonstrations pose a challenge to Ms. Boluarte as she tries to restore order. Since the new president doesn’t have a party in congress, she is herself also at risk of being ousted before her term expires in 2026. Ms. Boluarte is the sixth leader of the politically volatile nation since the start of 2018.

Mr. Castillo’s approval ratings had fallen to about 25% by the time he was impeached, but he did still enjoy significant backing among the poorest farmers and some other groups such as teachers. Many of them resent Ms. Boluarte for having ditched Mr. Castillo when he attempted to dissolve congress. — Bloomberg

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