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New Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra names his Cabinet

April 3, 2018

Peru's President Martin Vizcarra, left, waves alongside his Cabinet Chief Cesar Villanueva during a swearing-in ceremony of the new cabinet at the government palace in Lima, Peru, Monday, April 2, 2018. Vizcarra was sworn-in to office in March, taking over from his predecessor Pedro Pablo Kuczynski who resigned over corruption allegations. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

LIMA, Peru (AP) — New President Martin Vizcarra swore in a Cabinet on Monday that aims to continue the pro-business policies of his disgraced predecessor while seeking to ease political tensions.

Vizcarra’s key political operator will be Prime Minister Cesar Villanueva, a former governor and lawmaker who promised a government focused on resolving social problems in Peru’s long-neglected interior.

David Tuesta, an economist with a regional development bank, was named finance minister, a sign Vizcarra intends to pursue a conservative, pro-business agenda.

Vizcarra, who was vice president, took over the presidency last month from Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. The former Wall Street investor resigned as he faced threats of impeachment from a hostile congress probing allegations he received almost $800,000 in payments a decade ago from Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction company at the center of a widespread Latin American corruption scandal.

Some of the Cabinet picks could bring controversy.

New Justice Minister Salvador Heresi is a former lawmaker who spoke repeatedly in favor of Kuczynski’s widely criticized decision to give a pardon on medical grounds to former Peruvian strongman Alberto Fujimori.

The Inter-American Court on Human Rights is expected to rule in the coming months on whether the early release of Fujimori from a 25-year sentence for abuses committed during his decade-long rule is valid. It could order the government to return him to jail.

Kuczynski is widely believed to have pardoned Fujimori in a failed attempt to save his presidency. Congress is dominated by a political party run by Fujimori’s daughter.

Green activists are also likely to balk at Vizcarra’s pick of Fabiola Munoz as environmental minister. She is the former head of Peru’s forestry service who in 2016 lobbied U.S. customs officials to release a lumber shipment seized in Houston for having violated laws banning the importation of illegally cut timber.

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