What’s Ahead for Peru Should President Kuczynski Be Impeached?

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Though Kuczynski insisted he didn’t directly receive money from Odebrecht, his company Westfield Capital signed contracts with them and the state, which resulted in payment. (Twitter)

Español Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has not had his best month, as he continues to face the possibility of being removed from office due to his connection to the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, which offered bribes to public officials in exchange for building contracts between 2001 and 2005.

Though Kuczynski insisted he didn’t directly receive money from Odebrecht, his company Westfield Capital signed contracts with them and the state, which resulted in payment.

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The worst will come Thursday, December 21 when Peru’s Congress meets with Kuczynski and his lawyer to review evidence of these claims. If they are unable to prove his innocence, it may convince enough of Congress to vote him out of office. What comes next for Peru in that case? What is the procedure for impeaching and replacing the President?

PanAm Post interviewed the international political analyst Luis Fernando Nunes, who explained what could occur in the months ahead.

What is happening in Peru with the Kuczynski government and why is its stability hanging by a thread?

We are living through a political crisis that will come to a head on Thursday.

When the president took office from 2001 to 2005, he supposedly suspended all of this private business interests, but unfortunately, one of the companies he owns continued operating under the helm of his partner, Gerardo Sepúlveda of Chile.

Apparently, during that 2001 to 2005 term, he unfortunately received a cut of the company’s profits.

It turns out that Article 126 of the Constitution prohibits any official from receiving income from a private company that benefits from state commissions or dividends.

What would be the procedure for a possible impeachment?

The procedure is called the “presidential vacancy.” Last week a group of congressmen signed the procedural request for a vacancy. After that, they presented it to Congress in the General Assembly that met over the weekend.

It was approved and then the President was told to go this Thursday, with his lawyer, to plead his case; but if you ask me, I am sure that President Kuczynski will be impeached on Thursday, and on Friday the first Vice President or the second Vice President will each move up in rank. If the former resigns, the latter will assume his role.

The Fujimori supporters have enough votes in Congress to remove the President.

Is this movement to impeach Kuczynski fair? Does he deserve it, or are these measures unfounded?

To me what is happening seems like overkill, but unfortunately if he fails to prove that he did not receive the money on Thursday, they will remove him on the grounds that he violated the constitution.

Regrettably, the most probable outcome is that they remove him. It is an extraordinary thing because it’s hard to understand that a country that is doing well economically can have such a thing happen, but unfortunately the political chickens are coming home to roost.

Understand that Congress is a political institution. Parallel to the impeachment that will take place on Thursday, there is also an ongoing investigation into the Attorney General’s office, that is part of a slower process.

I believe that after the speech that the President gave last week at night and after a television round-table he did with five journalists, that he failed to clear his name. I think he admitted to receiving dividends in his account even though he said that during those years he was away from the administrative aspect of his business and that he presumably did not know that his partner had signed those contracts. Unfortunately for him, ignorance of the law is no excuse.

What would happen after he is removed from office?

The Constitution allows the first Vice President to govern as President until the end of the term, which will be July 28 of 2021.

Now, if the first Vice President does not want to be President and resigns, and the second Vice President does the same, then the President of the Congress of the Republic would be next in line, and he would have to call for elections after one year.

Who could be the candidates in such a case? Could Keiko Fujimori run despite being investigated in the Lava Jato case?

There are several factors at play here: first that the fact that Mrs. Fujimori is also being investigated, as you mentioned, and it is very likely that in the coming weeks we will have some news about that because the Attorney General’s office raided two of the party’s properties and also showed up at the Electoral Processes National Office, which monitors the finances of Peru’s political parties, to review the accounting books. If they find imbalances between the contributions received and the campaign expenses, the Prosecutor’s Office may charge them with money laundering and they may also be taken into custody. She can’t be impeached because she is not a public official.

If she gets out in time, she could be a candidate in the 2018 elections if they come about, but it is important to know that in Peru there is a strong division. Almost half of Peru likes the last name Fujimori, but the other half does not, and wants nothing to do with them.If she participates in a possible election she goes starts it with a built-in disadvantage, in addition to the stigma of the investigation against her for the Odebrecht case.

Another person who could run is a potential candidate who isn’t registered in a party, the independent Julio Guzmán. He was going up in the polls during the last election, but they removed him from the race due to some mistakes with him not having any party affiliation, but there were merely logistic errors.

The other possibility is that Veronika Mendoza, from the left, also continues to rise, but the Peruvian people were shocked because she seems to be a sympathetic supporter of the Venezuelan regime and the Peruvians do not want to have anything to do with Chavismo, which they detest.

If Mrs. Mendoza does not deviate from her sympathy toward Chavismo and Madurism0, (sympathisers of Venezuelan socialist dictators both past and present) it is likely she won’t continue to gain support.

Is this the first time that this has happened to a Peruvian President?

No, it is not the first time, but the last time nobody seems to have learned from what happened to President Alberto Fujimori, who sent his resignation letter by fax, causing an uproar in the country. Congress had to take action after the moral incapacity of the President. His Vice President chose not to take over the role, and then the Head of Congress called for elections.

Will Peruvian politicians learn their lesson from Kuczynski? 

I hope so. The problem is that the Odebrecht phenomenon has been a case that practically undermined all of Latin America, with the exception of Chile.

I hope we learn from this lesson but we must admit that, unfortunately, our countries have a cancerous corruption in both the public and private spheres. People have learned to tolerate corruption and that is terrible. Hopefully, we will learn the lesson that corruption is not acceptable.

Kuczynski promoted strong support for the Venezuelan community and allowed thousands displaced by economic hardship to migrate from their country in search of a better future. What might happen to Venezuelans without Kuczynski?

I don’t think this affects the Venezuelans because hypothetically speaking, if Mrs. Fujimori became the Presidency of Peru, she voiced her agreement with what Kuczynski has done for Venezuela.

If Mr. Martín Vizcarra (the first Vice President) takes over as President for four years, he also supports the Venezuelan population and has been very consistent in that.

The big doubt is whether a period of temporary residence permit (PTP) is going to be reopened, thousands of Venezuelans have come and we do not know if the country is prepared to receive so many people.

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