EDITORIAL: Corruption in Peru makes for an uncertain future for its people

by | Feb 5, 2020 | Editorial

ETC Staff

South American politics is complicated. And dangerous, fraught with violence and corruption.

Chile remains in turmoil following protests sparked by bus fares. Protests and riots ensued, and tensions remain. Argentina faces economic collapse, again. Venezuela is almost a non-functioning state, Bolivia had a coup and the once narco-state Colombia which had been fighting a war until recently with rebels seem normal in comparison.

And now let’s add Peru to the list. Corruption and political logjams have led the land of Incas into a constitutional crisis.

It began when Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, leader of centre-right PPK, was elected president in 2016 over opposition leader Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the imprisoned former president Alberto Fujimori, jailed for corruption and crimes against human rights.

This set up the logjam what effectively ended the cooperation between the national congress of 130 elected members — a majority of members of Fujimori’s party Fuerza Popular and allies — and the president. We see a similar situation in the United States as the Republicans and Democrats are butting heads and failing to move forward. Representatives and senators are foisting party over country, and that leads to dangerous partisanship and ineffectual government.

In Peru, the infighting practically led to the political fracture of the nation into two.

The political crisis forced the 81-year-old Kuczynski to quit the presidency. He was also accused of receiving payments from a consulting firm when he was the minister of state, and has since been accused of moral incapacity and to “buy” votes from some congressmen.

A new president was installed, Martín Vizcarra, who was the Peruvian ambassador to Canada in March 2018.

Peru’s President Martin Vizcarra attends a swearing-in ceremony at the government palace in Lima, Peru October 3, 2019. (REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo)

Meanwhile, IDL-Reporteros, an independent journalist agency, revealed a corruption case that linked politicians, soccer players, judges and others to influence peddling. Further, the National Council of Magistrature, which screens and nominates judges, was accused of being a “criminal organization.”

“We are at a special time in the country where we are seeing major examples of corruption among officials in the judicial branch — we have to change that,” Vizcarra said in a 2018 press conference.

The following year, another major scandal broke. Odebrecht, a Brazilian company, was investigated about bribery involving different Peruvian governments over the past 19 years. Their representative, Jorge Barata, revealed the company gave money to all the presidents in those two decades.

That revelation led to the suicide of former President Alan García on Easter Week 2019.

Vizcarra later shut down the legislature just before Congress was discussing a confidence vote. It was the sixth time a Congress in Peru has been dissolved.

Last month, the far-left Union por el Peru, a party led by Antauro Humala, a retired army major imprisoned for killing policemen, got 13 seats. He is the brother of the centre-left ex-president Ollanta Humala, but Antauro is much more radical and said recently if necessary, he would kill his brother.

Some of Union por el Peru’s proposals call for the killing of corrupt politicians and to impose the death penalty to many other cases, including femicides. Today, Kuczynski is confined to his home accused of corruption, Ollanta Humala and his wife are on trial for corruption, and Keiko Fujimori is in jail, accused of corruption, ex-president Alejandro Toledo is imprisoned in the United States for corruption, and Garcia, the former president, committed suicide last year for corruption.

Elections are planned in April 2021. But they may prove to be futile. Clearly, the crisis in Peru is based in corruption. There is nothing any individual politician or Congress can accomplish until the dreaded plagues of greed and graft are eradicated.