Latin America News – Peru’s new president is sworn in but promises not to live in “House of Pizarro”
By Marco Aquino and Marcelo Rochabrun
LIMA, Peru, Thu July 29, 2021 (Reuters) – New Peruvian President Pedro Castillo, a champion of the rural poor, was sworn in on Wednesday and said he would not be living in the government palace in Lima known as of “House of Pizarro” – a symbol breaking with some 500 years of tradition and the colonial past of the Andean country.
Castillo, who comes from a peasant family in rural Peru, said in his first address to the nation after his inauguration on Wednesday that the palace would instead be used to house the Ministry of Cultures under his government.
“I will not rule from House Pizarro, because I believe that we must break with colonial symbols to end the ties of domination that have been in force for so many years,” he said.
“We will hand over this palace to the new Ministry of Cultures for use as a museum that presents our history, from its origins to the present day.”
The government palace is named after the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro Gonzalez, who around 500 years ago captured and ultimately executed the indigenous chieftain Atahualpa in Cajamarca, Castillo’s native region in northern Peru.
The first “House of Pizarro” dates back to around 1535, although construction of the current grandiose building began in 1937. Work was completed the following year and the palace was inaugurated in 1938.
Castillo, a foreign candidate who ran for a socialist party, won thanks to the support of rural Peruvians angry at the political status quo and inequalities between the wealthiest urban elites and the poorest rural communities.
Some other left-wing regional leaders also rejected the large old government buildings. José “Pepe” Mujica in Uruguay lived a humble way of life, while former Bolivian socialist leader Evo Morales built a new “House of the People” rather than using the colonial-era Palacio Quemado, or ” Burnt palace ”.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has also moved the presidential offices from the old palace to a less ostentatious building in central Mexico City.
(Reporting by Marco Aquino and Marcelo Rochabrun; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)