The Peruvian legislative power is trying to initiate a process of impeachment towards the current president due to ties with Odebrecht
Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has rejected various requests to resign over alleged ties to companies that received payments from discredited Brazilian builder Odebrecht. The Head of State also said he would accept investigators to examine his bank accounts.
Kuczynski came under inquiry on Wednesday, December 13th, after the Congressional Commission investigating Odebrecht's network of corruption revealed that he had received payments by Odebrecht when he was a state minister from 2002 to 2006. The payments were made to Westfield Capital, a company owned by Kuczynski.
During a video statement in public television, Kuczynski acknowledged owning the company, Westfield Capital, but he said that a business partner dealt with Odebrecht contracts during that time because he had a public job for the government. "I'm not going to abdicate my honor, my values, or my responsibilities as president of all Peruvians", Kuczynski said. "I won't run. I won't hide. I have no reason to do so”.
Before Kuczynski spoke, the leaders of several parties in the opposition-controlled Congress declared that they would use force to out him from power, if he didn’t leave voluntarily. Peru's two biggest parties, which between them have enough seats in Congress to remove Kuczynski, said lawmakers could initiate impeachment proceedings unless the current president steps down.
The president had turned down repeated requests to speak to the “Car Wash committee”, which is led by lawmakers from Popular Force, the principal opposition party, insisting he would only respond to questions in writing. Though that attitude has now changed, Popular Force lawmakers say that is it’s too late and the process of impeachment will begin soon.
Kuczynski spent most of December 14th in the presidential palace with top aides trying to devise a strategy to fight back against the accusations. As rumors grew about his resignation, Peru's stock exchange - until recently the darling of foreign investors - had its biggest tumble in two years, falling 3.5 percent.
Other political actors across party lines are also involved in the Odebrecht corruption scandal. Former President Ollanta Humala is now in prison, while former President Alan Garcia, and opposition leader Keiko Fujimori are under investigation. Odebrecht has been at the center of Latin America’s biggest corruption.
Steve Levitsky, a Harvard University political scientist who has spent the last couple of years studying Peru, said Kuczynski was already a weak president with little legislative or popular support before the corruption allegations, which had been quietly tracking him for some time, broke into the open. "He definitely seems to be dead in the water”, said Levitsky. "It's not that what he did was necessarily illegal, but the fact that he swore over and over again that he had no ties to Odebrecht and that was proven to be nakedly false, he should accept from the begginig the payments to Westfield Capital”.
Latin American Post | Carlos Gómez
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto