BY: CLAUDIA A. GONZALEZ
This past Wednesday, March 21, 2018, the President of Peru Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK) presented his resignation to Congress following a corruption scandal and an impending impeachment vote scheduled for March 22, 2018. He stepped down after a year and 7 months in power, and his Vice President Martin Vizcarra will be soon stepping in.
Kuczynski had been struggling to hold on to his position since December, when a motion to impeach him was set, but voted against. The party behind the move to impeach is the Popular Force, lead by Keiko Fujimori – daughter of the former president Alberto Fujimori. This week, PPK’s party was preparing for a second impeachment initiative, when Keiko Fujimori released videos that implicated the President and his party in vote-buying schemes.
In these videos, government officials appeared to be offering building public works and projects, in exchange for supporting the president during the first impeachment vote, the one that occurred in December.
Moreover, PPK faced also accusations of having received payments Brazilian developer Odebrecht. To this day, he denies the charges and accusations. On Friday, March 23, 2018, the Peruvian legislature is expected to come to a decision on whether they will be accepting his resignation or if they will proceed to impeach him. If Congress does agree to accept his resignation, the Peruvian courts will consider a request to bar PPK from leaving the country; following a formal acceptance of his resignation, he would lose his presidential immunity and become vulnerable to prosecution.
After his resignation, even though the market has remained stable, growth expectations for Peru shrank from 4% to 3%, and certainty with regards to the regional agreements being negotiated has vanished – Peru is currently part of the ongoing negotiations related to the Transpacific Partnership.
Since he took office, PPK has been a strong supporter of the Venezuelan cause opposing the regime of Nicolas Maduro. Under him, Peru was one of the few countries willing to offer an immediate working visa for all Venezuelans entering the country; in addition, he led a regional campaign for further sanctions against the Venezuelan regime.
This April, Summit of the Americas is expected to happen, where further discussion about Venezuela and other regional discussions are expected to happen. As PPK resigns, some delegations, such as Argentina and Colombia have stepped back in their decision to participate, confirming they would not attend if the government collapses, jeopardizing the execution of the Summit itself. The delegation of the United States has not yet commented on their position since U.S. President Donald Trump is scheduled to attend. As for Venezuela, the government of Peru had already rescinded the invitation for the Venezuelan delegation stating its participation in the Summit would not be welcomed.
The coming days will be fundamental for Peru, but as well as for the region. As election day approaches in Colombia, México and Brazil, Peru’s destiny is one that we should keep an eye on, as it balanced the forces of the left and right within the region. As Vizcarra assumes the office of the President, it will be of utmost importance to re-assure the Peruvian people, and the region, that the policies that had assured Peru a 4% growth rate will remain, and that political stability will be achieved once again.
Claudia A. Gonzalez is a Political Analyst with a background in economics. She is currently an Associate at Atheneum and holds a Master’s degree in Political Science. She has attended Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Universidad Catolica Andres Bello and the London School of Economics and Political Science.
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