Uruguayan President Tabaré Vásquez’s rejection of Alan García’s request for political asylum is yet another serious blow to the political pretensions of Peru’s twice former president; it could well be the prelude for him to end up in jail, like his ally Keiko Fujimori.
García left the residence of the Uruguayan ambassador in San Isidro on 3 December in a rented car, heading for an address of his in Miraflores. His next moves are awaited: either to try and escape Peru by some other means or to stay in the country and face the (legal) music. By judicial order, he is prevented from leaving Peru for a period of 36 months. Initially, at least, he appears to have opted to stay rather than escape.
García faces a number of legal hurdles in respect to his financing of his presidential bid in 2006 and over payments from Odebrecht subsequent to that company being awarded the contract to build the Lima metro. Other possible areas of investigation have also come to light in recent weeks, including payments he provided for a number of conferences subsequent to leaving office in 2011 and for what he may have received during and after his first administration (1985-90) for the contract to build an overhead electric railway in Lima.
Whether or not the public prosecutor on the Odebrecht case, José Domingo Pérez, decides to press for García’s detention forthwith remains unclear; he may wish to pursue his investigations into García’s affairs before pressing the case. Pérez, for his part, is under pressure from the chief public prosecutor Pedro Gonzalo Chávarry.
García may depend on his residual contacts within the judiciary to protect him from further legal hounding, not least Chávarry. The APRA party has long exercised significant political leverage over the judiciary.
Whether or not García remains a free man, his long political career appears to have reached a new low point from which recovery will be difficult. García’s reputation as a maestro in political tactics has been dealt a cruel blow by his unfortunate decision to seek refuge in Uruguay as a supposed victim of political persecution in Peru.
Whether APRA can recover from this debacle is also questionable. It was already dealt a cruel blow in the 2016 elections when, with García as its candidate, it received a paltry 4% of the vote and won only five seats in the 130-seat Chamber of Deputies. Its ability to make a comeback will depend on its finding a suitable new leader with no links to the past: a difficult task.
APRA, established in Mexico City back in 1924 and formed in Peru in 1930, is Peru’s oldest party, exercising a major influence on the politics of the 20th century. Despite its longevity and its crucial role in numerous electoral contests (beginning in 1931), APRA only won the presidency once when García was elected in 1985. In spite of the disastrous experience of his first government, García (to the surprise of many) managed successfully to return for a second term in 2006.