Peru’s Pay-to-Commit-Crime Politics: Presidential Corruption under Investigation
EspañolAfter a twelve-hour marathon session on Thursday, June 19, the Peruvian Congress approved, by a large majority, a report delivered by a special commission that recommends constitutional action be taken against former President Alan García. Congress has accused García of corruption during his tenure as president, having granted thousands of pardons to convicted drug traffickers.
The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the formal complaint against the former president: 53 voting yes, with only seven against and seven abstentions. Representatives of the Peru Wins, Possible Peru, and Broad Front-Popular Action parties all voted in favor of the measure. The fujimoristas — conservatives who follow in the tradition of the now jailed former president Alberto Fujimori — decided not to vote.
The resolution from the commission also proposes a constitutional complaint be made against Rosario Fernández and Aurelio Pastos, former ministers of justice, who have been accused of accepting bribes.
This report by the commission is only one of eight currently being assembled that investigate alleged corruption during García’s second term in office between 2006 and 2011.
Among the complaints against the former president is a violation of Article 8 of the Constitution, which stipulates the state must combat and punish “illicit drug trafficking.” He is also being investigated for violating Article 39, which states that all government officials, and especially the president, are obliged to serve the best interests of the nation.
The report also indicates García may have violated articles 43, 44, 45, and paragraphs 1 and 9 of article 118.
Juan Pari, a Peru Wins Party representative and member of the special commission, said that there is sufficient and compelling evidence for the constitutional complaint against García.
“The arguments are not only discursive and backed by testimony, there is also considerable documented evidence. The arguments are objective; there is no speculation or subjectivity,” Pari said.
Furthermore, Pari was optimistic about the future of the report and the case against García: “It is time that the country begins to understand that their institutions are strong, that we investigate and come to specific conclusions, so that we can build a democracy that is free from corruption.”
The report claims that García granted pardons to more than 3,000 drug traffickers, 628 people convicted of aggravated robbery, and 180 others convicted of theft. It appears that many of the beneficiaries of the former president’s leniency contributed funds to the Peruvian Aprista Party (APRA). Congress alleges the campaign cash was given in exchange for the presidential pardon.
Los informes nulos de Tejada son una patraña mayor que el informe Lark de 1991. Me odian por haber impedido la reelección conyugal.
— Alan García (@AlanGarciaPeru) June 19, 2014
“During the past 32 months, the attorney general, with the report from the ‘mega-commission,’ has denounced me for having reduced penalties. But after listening to all the parties involved, the final conclusion was that there was ‘no crime’ (6-I-2014). The president of the ‘mega-commission’ also said it: ‘There is no evidence that Alan Garcia received any payments in exchange for pardons’ (30-IX-2013). One may or may not agree with sentence reductions, but they are a constitutional prerogative of the head of state and are still being carried out today. They are not a crime,” said García in an opinion column published by Diario Correo.
Meanwhile, García’s lawyers also maintain the former president committed no crime and have raised several points in his defense. As García stated in his op-ed, his lawyers say pardons are within the range of normal presidential powers, and only prohibited when involving cases of rape, kidnapping, and terrorism. They also add that the state has so far produced no evidence suggesting García took bribes.
Furthermore, García’s attorney’s suggest that by basing their allegations on “invalid reports,” lawmakers in Peru are “seriously undermining the fundamentals of the rule of law with the clear intent to disable the former president electorally.”
What Happens Now?
The report prepared by the special commission will be sent to the Subcommittee on Constitutional Accusations, chaired by Marco Tulio Falconí, and has 10 days to decide whether or not to proceed with the charges.
If they decide to move forward, García will then be called to testify at public hearings.