Embattled Peruvian president steps down over vote-buying scandal
March 22, 2018 By Staff
TODAY IN LATIN AMERICA
Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned yesterday amid corruption accusations. On Tuesday, footage had been leaked by right-wing opposition party Popular Force allegedly showing Kuczynzki’s allies trying to buy the vote of an opposition lawmaker to avoid impeachment that was set to be voted on tomorrow. The secretly-taped videos appear to show three former opposition lawmakers now turned government allies, including Kenji Fujimori the son of the former president, trying to lure a lawmaker into voting against impeaching the president in exchange for profitable state contracts.
The scandal was just the tip of the iceberg for Kuczynski’s presidency. He’s accused of lying about his involvement with Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction firm at the heart of multiple corruption scandals in Latin America, and of pardoning former President Alberto Fujimori of human rights violations in exchange for votes against an earlier impeachment vote. Congress could decide not to accept his resignation and impeach him anyway, as it did when Fujimori resigned in 2000 and fled to japan.
Kuczynski, who was in office for less than two years, will be replaced by Vice President Martín Vizcarra.
HEADLINES FROM THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE
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This week Trinidad and Tobago swore in its first woman president: Paula Mae Weekes. In the country’s parliamentary system, the president is the Head of State and is elected by an Electoral College composed of members of parliament from nominees proposed by the government, which is headed by a Prime Minister. Trinidad and Tobago is the only republic in Latin America and the Caribbean to have a woman head of state after Chile’s Michelle Bachelet left office on March 11.
The Guatemalan government removed 11 police investigators from the U.N. anti-corruption commission. Commission head Iván Velásquez Gómez said the police were removed “to affect the investigations” that have already outed several high-ranking politicians. The commission has also investigated current President Jimmy Morales for illegal campaign financing.
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The Miss Venezuela beauty pageant, one of the most popular in the world, has been suspended as the organization behind it investigates claims of corruption and prostitution. The probe was sparked by a recent wave of insults among former contestants on social media, including accusations that some participants stole charity money and others received presents from businessmen and government officials in exchange for sexual favors.
Authorities in Ecuador believe a rogue group from the now-demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, is responsible for the killing of three soldiers this week. The governor of the northwestern province of Esmeraldas, where soldiers were attacked on Tuesday, said yesterday that Colombia has failed to control guerrilla activity in the region, allowing the FARC dissidents, who are involved in drug trafficking, to attack authorities on both countries.
Millions of people were left in the dark yesterday after an apparent power plant malfunction caused a massive blackout in Brazil, affecting 14 out of the country’s 26 states, or about 22 percent of the population. The blackout was mostly felt in the northern and northeastern states, but more populous states like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro also had some temporary outages.