Bad week for Keiko
22 May 2016
Fuerza Popular boss steps aside over drug allegations. On Sunday15 May, a television report revealed that the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is carrying out an investigation into illicit enrichment and drug connections on the part of Fuerza Popular (FP) general secretary, Joaquín Ramírez. The self-made man who had reputedly started as a bus ticket collector in the 1990s is now the owner of at least 17 properties in Lima. The report, undertaken by US-based Univision by Colombian Pulitzer prize winner Gerardo Reyes, has once again highlighted connections between FP and drug interests.
Since then it has become clear that Ramírez, a congressman for FP, has many questions to answer. He is also being investigated by the public prosecutor’s office and in parliament for his ‘patrimonial imbalance’. He is the nephew of Fidel Ramírez, the owner of the Universidad Alas Peruanas, who is also under investigation for possible money laundering activities and connections with the drug kingpin Miguel Arévalo Ramírez (aka ‘Eteco’).
Ramírez’s ‘imbalance’ is put at 7 million dollars; he claims that all information about his finances disappeared from his offices in December 2014.
Also being investigated by the DEA and the Peruvian drug agency Dirandro is Keiko Fujimori’s strongman in Tocache, David Bazán Arevalo who too has close ties to Eteco
Fujimori’s first response was to call the television programme while it was being transmitted and declare she was being mistreated as a woman. Ramírez then claimed he was being targeted for his humble origins and his rag-to-riches story, or as he put it for being a “cholo con plata”. FP vice-presidential candidate José Chlimper defended Ramírez and denied there was any wrongdoing. Two days later, however, Ramírez asked for leave of absence from his position as head of Keiko Fujimori’s election campaign.
Keiko and husband under investigation. Questions over campaign finances have continued to plague Keiko, and she and her husband are now being investigated by the prosecutor’s office. It emerged on 20 May that the couple are under scrutiny over how Mark Vito, Keiko’s husband, acquired industrial property outside of Lima to the value of 617,329 soles
Answers are also being sought about her campaign finances, specifically where 1.7 million soles in campaign funding came from.
Death in Puno. Bad news did not end there. On 18 May two women who were travelling in a large caravan of Keiko’s supporters died in a traffic accident. Pictures of the more than one hundred cars near Lake Titicaca appeared in the press and in social media. It emerged that the two women who died, were not really supporters of Fujimori but had been paid to attend the political rally. The car involved in the accident belonged to the public prosecutor in Puno, raising questions as to the legality of its use for such a purpose. Reports held that Keiko’s representative left the scene of the accident and that the usual legal procedures were not followed up.