Contains selective news articles I select

Posts tagged ‘Coca Land of Peru’

Peru prosecutors seek jail for president in corruption case

July 11, 2017

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Prosecutors in Peru are seeking the arrest of former President Ollanta Humala and his wife on money laundering and conspiracy charges tied to a corruption scandal involving Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.

Prosecutor German Juarez tells The Associated Press that he has asked a judge to jail Humala and former first lady Nadine Heredia for 18 months. He says Tuesday’s request is based on testimony provided in Brazil by the former head of Odebrecht, who said he illegally contributed $3 million to Humala’s 2011 presidential campaign.

The judge in the case has already ordered the arrest of another former president, Alejandro Toledo, for related charges in the scandal. Humala governed Peru between 2011 and 2016.

Peru organizes 2019 Pan Am Games in wake of deadly flooding

May 21, 2017

Construction for the 2019 Pan American Games is way behind schedule. But that’s a secondary problem. The quadrennial event in Lima, Peru, has no sponsors, no marketing and is relying on a $1.2 billion budget financed by the national government.

“This is the biggest challenge I have today — the sponsors,” Neven Ilic, the president of the Pan American Sports Organization, told The Associated Press. “Now we have to go to the market to find sponsors.”

Peru is organizing the largest sports event in its history — in the wake of the worst flooding in recent memory. Flooding earlier this year in the north of the country, and in Lima, killed more than 100 and displaced thousands. President Pedro Pablo Kuczysnki has put reconstruction costs at up to $9 billion, raising questions about the propriety of big spending on a two-week sports event.

Supporters like Kuczysnki say the country can afford both, while critics point out that last year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro generated as much bad news as good. Nine months after the games ended, Rio organizers still owe creditors about $30 million. Many venues are abandoned, searching for events and money for maintenance.

“Peru has accepted being the host of the Pan American Games,” Kuczysnki told reporters. “It would be a real tragedy not to keep our pledge and dedicate all the needed resources to the reconstruction, and to the Pan American Games.”

Elected last month as president of the regional sports body PASO, Ilic has been lobbying in Lima for several weeks to get everyone behind the project. Lima Mayor Luis Castaneda said the games should be cancelled when the floods hit in March. Since then, he’s said they should go ahead.

“We know everything about all the problems they have, but today I think they are ready,” said Ilic, a Chilean and grandson of Croatian immigrants. He termed the construction schedule “tight, very short” and said all venue and related construction needed to start in September.

The biggest project is an athletes’ village composed of seven 20-story towers. A metro line is also just 15 percent completed. The country’s comptroller said last month that 40 percent should be done at this stage.

Ilic said he’ll look to some of the IOC’s big sponsors like Coca-Cola as potential clients. “First, we have to have a good proposal to present,” he said. Seeking expertise, the Peruvian government signed an agreement with Britain to line up British companies to help deliver security, construction, and event management.

Ilic has promised “no white elephants.” “We have asked them to please build (venues) in accordance with your reality, your culture,” Ilic said. “They don’t have big stadiums, big construction.” The continental championships open July 26, 2019, and will attract 7,000 athletes from Alaska to Argentina. For many it’s a qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The last two Pan Am Games were in Toronto in 2015, and Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2011. Rio hosted the 2007 edition, which it used to lobby for the Olympics. Rolando Arellano, the president of Lima-based Arellano Marketing, said most Peruvians were unaware the games were coming, and few “know what that means.”

He said the commitment to the Pan Am Games has put the government in a bind. “If the government spends on this, they can be seen as insensitive to other problems,” Arellano told AP. “But if they don’t, they will lose their image. Either way, they are not in a very comfortable position.”

The Peruvian capital is also host in September to the International Olympic Committee, which will meet to pick either Paris or Los Angeles as the venue for the 2024 Olympics. There was also pressure to cancel that event.

These meetings take place with scandal hovering over Peru’s national Olympic committee. Jose Quinones was disqualified last year by a Peruvian government body as president of the local Olympic committee with reports suggesting he misappropriated $3.3 million. Peru is to elect a new president in June.

Fransicso Boza, the secretary general of the Peruvian Olympic Committee, is also being investigated by a prosecutor on corruption charges. He was Peru’s flagbearer in the Rio Olympics and an Olympic silver medalist in shooting in the 1984 Olympics.

“Peru has seen a lot of progress in the last 15 years, so we must show off our development,” Arellano said. “This puts Lima and Peru in the international news. That could be a big win. Of course, you are not sure you are going to gain only goodwill.”

Associated Press writer Franklin Briceno in Lima contributed to this report.

Peru’s president asks Trump to deport fugitive ex-leader

February 13, 2017

LIMA, Peru (AP) — The leader of Peru asked U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday to deport a former Peruvian president sought in the South American nation on suspicion of taking bribes as part of a regional corruption scandal.

President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s office said the request was made to Trump during a phone conversation between the two men. The White House confirmed the talk, but did not mention Peru’s deportation request. It said they discussed the need for strong economic group as well as the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Venezuela.

Last week, a Peruvian court ordered the arrest and detention of ex-President Alejandro Toledo as prosecutors investigate whether he took $20 million in payments from the giant Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.

Peruvian officials have said they believe Toledo is in San Francisco, where he has been researching a book as a visiting scholar at nearby Stanford University. Local media reported he had intended to fly over the weekend to Israel, where his wife has citizenship, until Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government said he would be denied entry. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said Toledo was not on a flight from San Francisco that landed Sunday night.

In a posting on his Twitter account late Sunday, Toledo denied that he is a fugitive, saying that “I have never run away.” But he did not say where he was and did not say if he would return to Peru. Authorities across Latin America have been moving fast to charge officials accused of taking some $800 million in bribes from Odebrecht. The company acknowledged the bribes when it signed a plea agreement in December with the U.S. Justice Department.

Used to win business in 12 countries, the bribes include some $29 million paid in Peru for projects built during the administrations of Toledo (2001-2006) and two of his successors. So far, three officials have been arrested.

Toledo, a former pro-democracy activist who led street protests that brought down former strongman Alberto Fujimori in 2000, is accused of receiving some $20 million in bribes from Odebrecht in exchange for favoring the company in a contract to build a major highway from Brazil to Peru’s Pacific coast.

In a nationally televised address Sunday night, Kuczysnki called on Toledo to return immediately to Peru to clarify his legal situation. Earlier, Kuczynski thanked Israel’s government for its support in a letter to Netanyahu.

The White House said Trump expressed concerns about developments in Venezuela. Kuczysnki, a 78-year-old former Wall Street banker, has spearheaded calls among Latin American leaders to punish Venezuela’s socialist government for allegedly breaking with the nation’s democratic order.

Kuczynski, a 78-year-old former Wall Street banker has seen his approval ratings fall as a result of a number of ethical slips by members of his Cabinet, though none of those cases are tied to Odebrecht.

In his address, he announced executive measures meant to strengthen Peru’s fight against corruption. They include a bigger budget for prosecutors as well as rewards and protections for whistleblowers and a ban for life on contracting with the state for companies that engage in graft.

“We have to act relentlessly and immediately to stop the rot of corruption in Peru,” the president said. Kuczynski’s calls for zero tolerance for corruption comes as prosecutors in the Odebrecht case want to speak with the president himself.

As Toledo’s prime minister in 2006, Kuczynski signed a law passed by congress allowing Odebrecht to participate in an auction to build two highways despite a ban on it bidding for government contracts at the time because it was facing legal action for irregularities in another project. Odebrecht eventually was awarded the roads contract.

Kuczynski has denied any wrongdoing.

Associated Press writer Joshua Goodman in Bogota, Colombia, contributed to this report.

Israel says it will bar entry to fugitive Peruvian president

February 12, 2017

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel said Sunday it would not permit Peru’s fugitive former president to enter the country after reports he had boarded a flight from the United States. The Foreign Ministry said Alejandro Toledo, who governed Peru from 2001 to 2006, would only be allowed into Israel “once his affairs in Peru are settled.”

Toledo, whose wife has dual Belgian-Israeli citizenship, may seek refuge in Israel, which does not have an extradition treaty with the South American nation. He was believed to be in San Francisco over the weekend and possibly on a flight set to land in Israel later Sunday. Israeli officials said they did not know whether he was on the plane

An international manhunt is underway after a judge issued an arrest order for Toledo, finding that there was a high probability he had received bribes from a Brazilian construction firm that has admitted to paying off officials throughout Latin America.

Toledo is accused of accepting some $20 million in bribes from Odebrecht to help the company win a contract to build a highway from Brazil to Peru’s Pacific Coastline. Odebrecht last year admitted in a plea agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to paying some $800 million in bribes to politicians throughout Latin America, including $29 million during the 2001-2006 governments of Toledo and his two successors.

Toledo, who was last believed to be in Paris a week ago, has denied any wrongdoing.

Tens of thousands march in Peru against gender violence

August 14, 2016

LIMA, Peru (AP) — More than 50,000 people marched in Peru’s capital and eight other cities on Saturday to protest violence against woman and what they say is the indifference of the judicial system. Officials said the size of the protest against gender violence was unprecedented in Peru and followed several recent high-profile cases in which male perpetrators were given what women’s groups said were too-lenient sentences. The march in Lima ended at the palace of justice.

“Today, the 13th of August, is a historic day for this country because it represents a breaking point and the start of a new culture to eradicate the marginalization that women have been suffering, especially with violence,” said Victor Ticona, president of Peru’s judicial system.

Ticona said that a commission of judges would receive representatives of the protesters. Newly inaugurated President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski took part in the march along with first lady Nancy Lange. “What we don’t want in Peru is violence against anyone, but especially against women and children,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Kuczynski said his government is “going to ask for facilities for women to denounce violence because abuse flourishes in an environment where complaints cannot be made and the blows are absorbed in silence — and this is not how it should be.”

Peru’s march follows similar protests against gender violence in other Latin American countries, including Argentina and Brazil, held under the slogan #NiUnaMenos — #NotOneLess.

Freeing Fujimori may smooth the way for next Peru president

June 11, 2016

LIMA, Peru (AP) — The man who stands most to benefit from Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s presidential victory in Peru may be his defeated rival’s father: imprisoned ex-President Alberto Fujimori. Kuczynski began the task of forming a government Friday after his rival Keiko Fujimori conceded defeat in Peru’s closest presidential contest in five decades. His margin of victory was less than 43,000 votes — or 0.2 percentage points.

Even more challenging is his position in congress, where Fujimori’s party, smarting after a bitter campaign, holds 73 of 130 seats and his own bloc has just 18. Analysts say his best chance to ease hostility could be in releasing Alberto Fujimori to house arrest, freeing him from the prison where he is serving a 25-year sentence for corruption and supporting death squads during his autocratic rule in the 1990s.

During the campaign, Keiko Fujimori signed a pledge never to issue a pardon — a move intended to mitigate fears her father would be pulling the strings in her government. Kuczynski may be more flexible.

In first interview as President-elect, he reiterated that he opposes pardoning Fujimori, but would sign legislation giving older inmates including the 77-year-old Fujimori the right to house arrest. Still, he said he had doubts whether Fujimori’s Popular Force party would push for such an outcome because many hardliner loyalists would consider it a political defeat.

“They want him to walk out the front door, but there was a conviction,” Kuczynski told Semana Economica magazine. Kuczynski’s rise to power was in many ways accidental. The businessman had shown few political instincts and in February his poll numbers were sinking him deeper into a crowded field. But he began rising as two stronger candidates were disqualified on technicalities and fears grew that Fujimori would bring back the corruption and criminality associated with her father’s rule.

Now that he’s won, he must take reins one of South America’s most ungovernable countries, one awash in illegal proceeds from cocaine trafficking and where social tensions stoked by multinational mining projects frequently erupt into deadly unrest.

At 77, Kuczynski will be Peru’s oldest president when he is sworn in July 28 and, as a former Wall Street investor who has spent much of his life in the U.S., he has a notable lack of appeal among the country’s poor. TV comedians love to ridicule his “gringo” accented Spanish.

The campaign left a bitter residue in part because Kuczynski accused his rival of being the harbinger of a “narco-state” after it was leaked to the media that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was investigating a major donor and secretary general of her party for money laundering. In conceding, Fujimori blasted politicians, business leaders and members of the media for orchestrating a “hate-filled” campaign to discredit her candidacy.

Still, there are reasons why the two could find common ground on many policies. Kuczynski supported the younger Fujimori in the 2011 runoff won by President Ollanta Humala, both share a pro-business agenda and about a third of her lawmakers are newcomers who could be ripe for switching loyalties in Peru’s notoriously free-wheeling congress.

If she proves obstructionist, Kuczynski can also call congressional elections — an option he already said he’d be willing to use as a last resort. Harder to appease may be Peru’s left, which is feeling emboldened after delivering, albeit begrudgingly, the votes Kuczynski needed to erase a nearly 20-point lead for Fujimori following the first round of voting.

Leftist activists staged the biggest street demonstration Peru has seen in a generation on the eve of voting to reject a return of a Fujimori to the presidential palace. Failure to take them into account “would be a total betrayal of the people who got him over the hump,” said Steve Levitsky, a Harvard University political scientist who has spent two decades studying Peru. “He will pay a cost. There will be marches.”

Goodman reported from Bogota, Colombia.

Peru’s presidential election wait enters 4th day

June 09, 2016

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peru’s presidential election went down to the wire, with the final ballots trickling in from abroad and frayed nerves reaching the breaking point as the wait entered its fourth day on Thursday.

With 99.5 percent of the polling stations counted, front-runner Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was topping rival Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of imprisoned ex-President Alberto Fujimori, by a 50.1 to 49.9 margin.

While most experts said it’s already mathematically impossible for Fujimori to make up the roughly 40,000-vote difference separating her from Kuczynski, she hasn’t conceded and her supporters are holding out hope for a turnaround.

“She’s worked so hard crisscrossing the country,” said Lusa Maria Cuculiza, a congresswoman for Fujimori’s Popular Force party. “It would be unfair if she doesn’t win.” Dozens of supporters of Fujimori have held demonstrations outside the electoral board to denounce what they said was fraud, even though neither the candidate nor her campaign have presented any evidence to back up their supporters’ claims.

Kuczynski, a former World Bank economist, has urged patience from his supporters while talking as if he were already the winner. Still being counted are the last ballots cast by an estimated 885,000 Peruvians eligible to vote abroad. Peruvians living outside the South American country, most of them in the United States, turned out massively for Fujimori in the 2011 election but with 90 percent of their vote already counted they appear to have favored Kuczynski this time around.

Another potential spoiler is the thousands of handwritten tallies that were being disputed and evaluated by a special electoral board. Currently 677 such tallies representing up to 200,000 votes remain to be computed. Disputes are common in Peru, where voting is mandatory and any observer can lodge a complaint, but they’ve never proven decisive in past elections and almost always a losing candidate ends up conceding defeat before they are resolved.

Both candidates have remained largely silent while awaiting final results of Peru’s tightest presidential race since 1962, a contest that ended in a military coup. While Fujimori has traveled every day to her campaign headquarters, Kuczynski has remained mostly holed-up in his mansion with his family and aides.

President Ollanta Humala on Wednesday urged Peruvians to avoid jumping to conclusions and said the police would remain on alert until results were known. “We exhort the authorities to deliver the results the quickest and most-responsible manner,” he said.

Regardless of who wins, half of voters are bound to be disappointed, making it harder for the next president to govern. Aides in both campaigns were jockeying for positions in an eventual alliance in congress, where Fujimori’s party won a solid majority of 73 of 130 seats. Kuczynski’s fledgling movement will have just 18, fewer than the country’s main leftist alliance.

The 77-year-old Kuczynski was once far behind, but rose by reminding voters of Alberto Fujimori’s ties to the corruption, organized crime and death squads for which he’s serving a 25-year prison sentence.

Kuczynski also benefited from a last-minute endorsement by the third-place finisher in the first round of voting, leftist congresswoman Veronika Mendoza.

Joshua Goodman contributed from Bogota, Colombia.

Tag Cloud