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Peru expels Mexico's ambassador as tensions between the countries rise

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

After weeks of trading verbal barbs, tensions between Peru and Mexico have come to a head with Peru expelling the Mexican ambassador. The squabble has left Mexico firmly on the side of a growing leftist wave in Latin America. NPR's Eyder Peralta reports.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Earlier this month and right before an impeachment vote, Peru's leftist president, Pedro Castillo, tried to consolidate power by dissolving the Congress. Instead, Congress voted to oust him. And as Castillo fled toward the Mexican embassy, his bodyguards arrested him. Ever since, Mexico and the other leftist governments in Latin America, including Cuba, Bolivia and Venezuela, have stood with Castillo, calling his ouster, quote, "an anti-democratic harassment."

Mexico went further. They offered Castillo and his family asylum. The new government of Peru accused Mexico of meddling in its internal affairs, and they declared the Mexican ambassador persona non grata. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has often touted his country's non-intervention policy. But back in 2019, Mexico offered asylum to ousted Bolivian President Evo Morales. In a press briefing, Lopez Obrador said ousting Peru's Castillo was wrong. He criticized the U.S. for quickly accepting the ouster, and he staked a clear side in Latin America's growing left-right divide.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR: (Speaking in Spanish).

PERALTA: Mexico can distinguish between the people of Peru and the political class, he said. And the oligarchy, which the U.S. has sided with, is intent on silencing the poor people of Peru.

Early on Wednesday morning, Castillo's wife, who is facing a corruption investigation, and his two children arrived in Mexico City. They were received by Mexican Foreign Ministry officials who insisted Mexico was just doing what it has always done, quote, "saving lives across Latin America."

Eyder Peralta, NPR News, Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.