Peru: For the second time in two months, President Martín Vizcarra faces impeachment proceedings

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In a kind of “remake” of the process that was successful on September 18, he must now defend himself against accusations of having received bribes for public works contracts while he was governor of the southern region of Moquegua, in 2014.

For the second time in less than two months, the president of Peru, Martín Vizcarra, will appear this Monday before a Congress that he will vote if he dismisses him for alleged “moral incapacity” for a case of alleged corruption when he has eight months in office.

In a kind of “remake” of a political trial that was successful on September 18, Vizcarra must now defend himself against the accusations of having allegedly received bribes for public works contracts while he was governor of the southern region of Moquegua, in 2014.

This new impeachment motion, which requires 87 votes out of 130 to pass in parliament, threatens to “plunge the country into a situation of instability,” warned Vizcarra, who has maintained record levels of popularity in his two and a half years in office.

Accusations of corruption they have not nicked citizen support to this 57-year-old provincial engineer outside the political class, who lacks a party and legislative bench, and who assumed power after the resignation of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, of whom he was vice president, in March 2018.

This motion was presented by the minority populist party Unión por el Perú (UPP) and is based on statements by two businessmen who assured the Prosecutor’s Office that they had paid bribes to Vizcarra when he was governor.

The amounts of the alleged bribes amount to 2.3 million soles (about $ 623,000), in a case investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office since 2018, but which has only now gained notoriety.

Vizcarra denies having received those payments and attributes the motion to a maneuver to delay the elections of April 2021, in which a new president of Peru must be elected and the unicameral Congress completely renewed. The president cannot be a candidate, because reelection is prohibited.

The Prosecutor’s Office had announced that it would open a file on Vizcarra once his term ends, on July 28, 2021, since he now has immunity, but his opponents in Congress did not want to wait and started this new impeachment process.

There are no ideological struggles in this controversy, since both the president and the parliamentary majority are center-right.

Nor are Peru’s big problems – such as the devastating coronavirus pandemic and the economic recession caused by a long confinement – under discussion, but rather seems to be a mere power dispute and that the complaints against the president are a mere pretext.

A week ago, Congress admitted this motion for processing by 60 votes in favor, 40 against and 18 abstentions.

This new political trial was launched less than two months after Vizcarra survived another similar one, accused of having urged two advisers to lie in investigations about a controversial contract to a singer.

In the first trial, on September 18, Vizcarra was successful when Congress only obtained 32 of the 87 votes needed to remove him.

In the polls, social networks and streets (with cacerolazos), support for Vizcarra remains very high: three out of four Peruvians want him to continue leading the Executive. Instead, Congress has 59% disapproval.

Business unions also asked to avoid impeachment and focus on the pandemic and economic recovery.

These impeachment motions recall two similar initiatives against his predecessor Kuczynski (2016-2018), which led to the former banker’s resignation from the presidency, also in the context of clashes with Congress.

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