Peru’s highly fragmented Congress has complicated the country’s governance for the past two decades
Peru’s last six presidents have staged corruption scandals
MADRID, 17 Nov. (EUROPA PRESS) –
The appointment of Francisco Sagasti as the new interim president of Peru makes him the fourth tenant of the Casa de Pizarro in just four years, thus confirming that the Andean country is experiencing one of the recent stories of greatest political instability in the region.
The last six presidents of Peru, except the interim, the late Valentín Paniagua, who took office just eight months after the motion of censure against Alberto Fujimori in 2000, and the recently resigned Manuel Moreno, have been involved in several cases of corruption, all of them related in one way or another to the network of bribery that the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht has woven in the continent.
The recent dismissal of former President Martín Vizcarra on November 9 by Congress came after several attempts in just over a year. On this last occasion, 105 deputies voted in favor of his “moral incapacity” to exercise the position, after being accused of having received bribes valued at around 500,000 euros in exchange for public contracts when he was governor of Moquegua between 2011 and 2014.
Vizcarra, who has not yet been charged with these alleged crimes, acceded to the Presidency in 2018 after the resignation of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who submitted his resignation while Congress prepared to vote a second time a motion of no confidence against him. also for crimes of corruption.
Since then, Vizcarra has had to face a Congress with many enemies, in which it does not even have its own bench, after the party for which he ran with Kuczynski, Peruanos por el Cambio (PPK) dissolved with the resignation of it.
In 2019, and given the difficulties to govern, Vizcarra denounced an alleged sabotage against him, promoted the dissolution of Congress and called parliamentary elections for January 2020.
Although the elections were a severe blow to the opposition Fuerza Popular and the rest of the Fujimori, the Chamber was very fragmented, with the presence of the majority of conservative parties and the situation of the former president without significant changes.
SECOND PRESIDENTIAL VACANCY AND ARRIVAL FROM MERINO
After the departure of Vizcarra, the arrival of Manuel Merino to the Presidency was received with strong protests in several cities of the country, especially in Lima, where massive demonstrations took place not only in support of the dismissed Vizcarra, but against the maneuvers of the Congress, as the thousands of Peruvians who mobilized throughout the week were in charge of highlighting.
The death of two protesters and the hundreds of injuries that were recorded on Saturday as a result of police violence during the protests were the trigger for the resignation presented by Merino, who had come to office in his capacity as president of Congress, after having achieved a seat in the 2020 parliamentarians for the department of Tumbes by getting 5,271 votes, or what is the same, 0.02 percent of the Peruvian population.
Merino finally managed to access the Presidency after the failed presidential vacancy against Vizcarra last September, when he was accused of influence peddling by participating in the irregular hiring of singer Richard Cisneros, an alleged friend of the former president.
The legal figure of the presidential vacancy has become a recurring tool within Congress, due to the ease with which it can be requested, since only 20 percent of the parliamentarians support is needed. With 40 percent, 52 deputies, this motion of censure is admitted for processing, and finally, it is approved with 66 percent of Congress in favor, which means 87 parliamentarians of the 130 that make up the plenary session.
POWER OF CONGRESS
Like any other country in Latin America, Peru is also a presidential regime, with the exception, which it shares with Venezuela and Ecuador, of having a unicameral system, which in practice grants much more power to Congress, since the decisions that are made in parliamentary headquarters do not subsequently pass through the control of the Senate.
This peculiarity with respect to the rest of the region’s neighbors means that on many occasions during the last two decades, Peruvian presidents have to deal with ungovernability, the result of a highly divided Congress. Since 2000, none of them has held more than 40 percent of the seats, so achieving majorities has become a very difficult task.
So much so that this situation has led to more than a few political scandals, especially in the form of vote buying, such as the one allegedly carried out by Kuczynski to avoid his removal by Congress.
The current Congress, the result of parliamentary elections in which some ten million Peruvian voters preferred not to go to the polls or to do so but voting blank, has the presence of nine political forces, being Acción Popular, Merino’s party, the one with the largest representation, with only 24 seats.
FROM CASA PIZARRO TO JAIL
The first to start this ‘tradition’ is Alberto Fujimori, who was sentenced in 2009 to 25 years in prison for crimes against humanity as a result of the massacres in Barrios Altos, in 1991, and La Cantuta, a year later.
In 2000, harassed by several corruption scandals, he was dismissed by Congress, while he was in Japan to avoid Justice, taking advantage of his dual nationality. Five years later he was arrested taking advantage of his presence in Chile.
The next on the list is Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006), accused of having received 20 million dollars from Odebrecht (16.8 million euros), he is detained in the United States, awaiting his extradition. The Peruvian Justice charges him with several crimes, including influence peddling and money laundering.
Alan García, who assumed the Presidency in 2006, although he held the position in the term prior to Fujimori’s arrival, ended up committing suicide in April 2019, when he was to be arrested for the Odebrecht case.
He was followed by Ollanta Humala, who is currently on probation, after spending a year behind bars, accused of money laundering by the Lava Jato special team, in charge of investigations against the corruption network designed by the Brazilian construction company in Peru.
Finally, Kuczynski’s corruption scandals earned him a 36-month pretrial prison sentence, which he is currently serving at his home in Lima.