Corruption scandals continue to rip through Peruvian Politics
26 November 2017
The Odebrecht scandal continues to engulf the whole Peruvian political establishment. This time the accusations have been against left-leaning former Mayor of Lima Susana Villaran. Brazilian publicist Valdemir Garreta has declared that he was paid three million dollars to work on the campaign against Villaran’s recall in 2013. Jorge Barata, Odebrecht’s manager in Lima, has declared that José Miguel Castro, one of the managers at the Municipality and right-hand man of Villaran, asked him for the funds and that Villaran later called to thank him for them. Two million were paid in Brazil to the advertising company and the other million was transferred in Peru. There is currently a discrepancy between the amount her campaign declared to have spent and what actually seems to have been spent. There is also lack of clarity over where the funds were sourced.
Villaran’s situation is more complicated than those of other politicians accused of having received money, as she was in public office while the payments were made. While it is not illegal in Peru for candidates to receive donations from private enterprises such as Odebrecht, what is against the law is to favour them once they are in office. So if a link were to be established between this payment and contracts signed by the Mayor of Lima, her situation would be extremely precarious. Many grass-root organisations and artists’ collectives supported her campaign. They claim not to have had knowledge of any links to the Brazilian company, but the leaders of the Lava Jato commission in Congress want to call them all to formally account for their position.
The investigation has proceeded swiftly and there is already talk that Villaran will not be allowed to travel outside of Peru and that she might even face a preventative jail sentence similar to that handed down to ex-president Ollanta Humala and his wife Nadine Heredia. This is viewed by some as unfair as the accusations against Keiko Fujimori have not led to further judicial action against her. Even though charges have not yet been brought against Fujimori, the investigation against her is ongoing, as are her links to Joaquin Ramirez. Further testimony regarding his links to drug trafficking are being sought by the public prosecutor.
After having gone after El Comercio last week, this week the Fujimoristas have attacked weekly magazine Caretas for publishing on its cover a picture of José Climper with disgraced ex-CEO José Graña, as the politician and secretary of Fuerza Popular was for several years a principal manager at Graña y Montero. Caretas highlights the connections between Climper and the enterprise that is troubled by its connections with the Odebrecht corruption scandal. In retaliation, Congress has cancelled all its subscriptions to Caretas and has asked the government to no longer subscribe or take out advertisements in the in the magazine. This has been seen by many as a return to the tactics used in the 1990s by the Fujimoristas to control the press.