Only a week after their release from jail at the insistence of the Constitutional Tribunal, Ollanta Humala and Nadine Heredia found themselves again victims of Peru’s judicial system. Various properties belonging to them were embargoed at the insistence of the very same judge who had sent them to jail.
This move has been widely criticised both in the Peruvian media and in political circles. Indeed, faced with a barrage of accusations that this was nothing more than a judicial vendetta, the authorities backtracked on the deadline they had given the former presidential couple to remove their belongings from these properties.
Whether or not Humala and Heredia are guilty of the crimes attributed to them by the public prosecutors’ office is not the issue. Up to now they have not been found guilty of the alleged crime of money laundering, although it seems that they received a US$3 million subvention from Odebrecht for their presidential campaign in 2011 at the behest of then Brazilian President Luis Lula da Silva. They spent nine months in jail without any formal accusation being lodged against them.
The widely-shared view is that while Humala and Heredia receive the wrath of the judicial authorities (the public prosecutor Germán Juárez Atoche and the judge Richard Concepción Carhuancho), others who are accused of receiving large amounts from Odebrecht in 2006 and 2011 go scot free. Their number includes Alan García, Keiko Fujimori and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
As Augusto Alvarez Rodrich puts it in an opinion piece in La República, no judicial system can work properly if the standards set are not equal for all. This is a basic precept which, when seemingly violated, simply strenthens Peruvians’ already jaundiced view as to how their justice system works. He points to the politicised nature of the judiciary. “It is highly unlikely that a prosecutor and judge would issue a sentence that is such an absurdity (mamarracho) if it did not have support from one particular political sector”.
While Humala and his family find themselves out on the street (or rather having to move in with Humala’s parents), other former presidents and leading politicians whose involvement in the Odebrecht scandal is supposedly under investigation sleep easily in their beds at night.