Peru’s former Prime Minister Betssy Chávez arrested, accused of rebellion and conspiracy

By June 29, 2023

Lima, Peru — Peru’s former Prime Minister Betssy Chávez, who is being  investigated for the alleged crimes of rebellion and conspiracy in relation to former President Pedro Castillo’s attempt to dissolve congress last December, has been arrested and will reportedly serve 18 months of pre-trial detention. 

Chávez was detained by the police on June 20 at her home in the city of Tacna in southern Peru, and two days later was remanded to the Anexo Mujeres de Chorrillos women’s  prison in Lima, the country’s capital. 

The decision to detain Chávez was taken due to a strong suspicion of flight risk, since it was recently revealed that she tried to seek asylum at the  Mexican Embassy after Castillo’s attempt to take over congress on December 7, 2022.

According to TV news program Cuatro Poder, witnesses told Public Ministry investigators that Chávez had sought asylum with Mexican authorities at that time.

Thanks to the testimonies, investigators reconstructed the route that the former prime minister took on December 7 after she realized that Castillo’s power grab had failed. Castillo was arrested on the same day he attemped to dissolve congress, and has been serving pre-trial detention since.  

Nataly Vega Tafur, a former administrator within the Presidential Cabinet, told investigators that Chávez called her aide-de-camp and asked that a delegation go with her to the Mexican Embassy

“The fact that Chávez went out with her aide-de-camp surprised me, since she had never done it before. The aide-de-camp, through WhatsApp messages, told me that they were going to the Mexican Embassy,” Vega told the Public Ministry. .

Meanwhile, Rosario Gaty Vásquez, the aide-de-camp, said she felt “like kidnapped when she went out that day” with Chávez, because “she didn’t know what to do.”

Former Peruvian Prime Minister Bettsy Chávez. Image courtesy of ANDINA.

On their way to the Mexican Embassy that day, Chávez reportedly changed her mind and asked to be taken to her ministerial office instead. People who worked in the office said Chávez ordered them to pick up all of her things and follow her. 

“I saw that they were taking laptops, wallets, etc., their belongings. It was like they were looting. This lasted approximately three minutes and they left without saying anything,” Vega said.

Rebellion and conspiracy

The Public Ministry is investigating whether Chávez, former ministers Willy Huerta (Minister of the Interior) and Roberto Sánchez (Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism) and former presidential advisor Aníbal Torres conspired with former President Castillo to shutdown congress and the judiciary, and rule the country by decree.

Castillo is currently serving pre-trial detention in the Barbadillo prison. He also faces charges of criminal organization, collusion and influence peddling — charges that could land him in prison for over 30 years.