On November 2, the Peruvian legislative body launched an initiative to impeach the President Martin Vizcarra. The “Peruvian” experience is being repeated again: the head of state is accused of corruption. Will the leader of this Latin American country be able to stay in the presidency? What are the accusations against Vizcarra?
This Monday, November 2, the Peruvian Congress voted to begin impeachment proceedings against the President Martin Vizcarra (Martín Alberto Vizcarra Cornejo). At the virtual meeting, a motion was adopted declaring the Peruvian head of state “morally incapacitated in accordance with Article 113 of the Constitution”. Voting took place for the second time in the last two months, however, earlier, on September 18, the country’s Congress did not support the impeachment of the President Vizcarra, and the proposal did not receive the required number of votes. In order for the appeal to be admitted for discussion, 52 votes out of 130 deputies in the full composition of the legislative body were required.
This time, the full Congress in a virtual meeting approved the adoption of the process of removal from the presidency with 60 votes “in favor”, 40 “against” and 18 “abstentions”. On September 11, the Peruvian Congress adopted a draft resolution on the removal of Vizcarra from office due to the “moral inability” to occupy this post. The head of state is charged in an alleged corruption case between 2010 and 2014, when he served as the governor of a small region in the southern part of the country located between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes, Moquegua.
According to an investigation by the prosecutor’s office, Martin Vizcarra received the alleged bribes on time as governor of Moquegua, until he became president in 2018. He is accused of corruption by the heads of local construction companies, who say that in total, Vizcarra was able to raise more than $ 600,000 as part of the construction of an irrigation project and a hospital in the region.
The identity of the accuser has not been disclosed by the prosecutor’s office, but it is believed that he is the owner and CEO of the “Obrainsa” construction bureau Elard Tejada, the company that allegedly paid the bribes to Vizcarra. Tejada was one of the businessmen prosecuted for the so-called “Construction Club”, which united important companies in the industry and acted as a cartel to distribute the construction of public facilities by paying bribes to various officials. Thanks to his testimony against the head of state, this accused, who became the main witness, was able to get out of prison or significantly reduce the sentence. Elard Tejada fled from justice for two years, and a week ago, at the same time as this testimony was obtained, his arrest warrant was replaced with house arrest.
During the virtual meeting, the Congress also approved that this procedure (political process) will begin on November 9th. On this day, the head of state will have to appear before the country’s parliament to defend himself, or his interests will have to be represented by his lawyer. For the final removal of Vizcarra from office, 87 votes of the total number of parliamentarians are required. The Congress of the Republic is a unicameral legislature. Until 1995, the Peruvian parliament was bicameral and consisted of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. The modern parliament includes 130 deputies (Spanish – congresistas), elected for 5 years according to a proportional system. It is worth noting that in the current Congress, Martin Vizcarra does not have an official faction, and he also does not enjoy support among various opposition political groups.
The President has already overturned a sentence impeachment proposal made in the Congress on September 18, accusing two of his advisers of lying in the case. At that time, the parliament did not get enough votes to remove him from power. Martin Vizcarra said that there is no evidence of this accusation, and the impeachment procedure is intended to destabilize the country. According to Vizcarra, he is confident that the Congress will not participate in this “political game”.
Martin Vizcarra took over as President of Peru on March 23, 2018, following the resignation of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (Pedro Pablo Kuczynski Godard), of which he has been the Vice President since 2016. Peruvian citizens will elect a new president in April and, according to the country’s constitution, Vizcarra is due to hand over on July 28, 2021. The head of state, who has created an image of an anti-corruption politician for himself, rejects all accusations and says that he must appear before the tribunal at the end of his term in July 2021.
Despite the accusations, Martin Vizcarra enjoys the support of 78% of Peruvians who believe the president should end his term, according to a poll conducted in October by the international analytic company “Ipsos”.
Today, a number of international media have already noted the continuation of the sad Peruvian trend of recent years: “from the presidency to the tribunal”. In 2017, Alberto Fujimori (Spanish – Alberto Ken’ya Fujimori) was sentenced to 25 years in prison for crimes against humanity and corruption; Alejandro Toledo has been accused of accepting bribes from the “Odebrecht” construction company and is expected to be extradited from the United States; Alan Garcia (Spanish – Alan Gabriel Ludwig García Pérez) committed suicide in 2019 when he was about to be arrested on corruption charges; Ollanta Humala (Spanish – Ollanta Moisés Humala Tasso) is prosecuted on charges of illegally financing his election campaign; and Pedro Pablo Kuchinski resigned in March 2018 after being accused of receiving illegal payments from the Brazilian construction company “Odebrecht” and is currently under house arrest. Whether Martin Vizcarra will join this long “black list” or remain in the presidential chair, will be shown in the coming days.