The massive corruption scandal surrounding the Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht continues to make headlines in Peru.
As the Associated Press reported on July 14, a judge in Peru ordered former president Ollanta Humala and his wife to be held for up to 18 months during a corruption investigation against the couple. Humala is accused, among other things, of taking $3 million in illegal campaign donations from Odebrecht during his successful 2011 presidential run.
The order comes just days after former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was sentenced to more than 9 years in jail on corruption charges. Lula, as he is popularly known, is a top contender for the upcoming presidential election in Brazil and has been leading in recent polls. If his conviction is upheld by the appellate court, he will be unable to compete in the presidential election.
Humala joins the growing club of disgraced former presidents of Peru who have been accused or convicted of corruption.
Alberto Fujimori, in office from 1990 to 2000, remains in jail in connection with murders and embezzlement among other convictions. While in office, Fujimori led a coup in which he dissolved the Congress and suspended the constitution. Fujimori’s daughter, Keiko Fujimori, lost the 2016 presidential election to the current president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. Recently, President Kuczynski has indicated that he may pardon Fujimori as a way to placate the Congress, which is dominated by Fujimori’s party.
Alejandro Toledo, in office from 2001 to 2006, fled the United States after he was accused of laundering $20 million. Last April, he was sentenced to 18 months in connection with the money laundering charges. The Peruvian government is still waiting for his extradition from the United States.
Alan Garcia, in office from 2006 to 2011, was accused of corruption but the statute of limitations prevented his prosecution. After the recent news about Ollanta Humala and his wife, Garcia expressed his regret about the situation on Twitter.
Ollanta Humala, in office from 2011 to 2016, also took to Twitter to condemn his prosecution as an “abuse of power” after he and his wife we ordered to be held during the investigation.
The latest action against Humala is another victory for the rule of law in Peru. While the corruption scandal linked to Odebrecht is being blamed for lower economic growth, the prosecutorial victories against corrupt politicians will ultimately provide greater benefits for the Andean nation.
Since the December 2016 revelations of the size and scale of the Odebrecht corruption scandal became known, sitting and former national legislators, governors, and presidents have been accused and convicted of money laundering, bribery, and other forms of corruption. The latest news from South America shows that the culture of impunity that kept the corrupt in power is coming to an end.