Peru’s President Wins Vote for Corruption Reforms

Peru’s congress green-lighted President Martin Vizcarra’s anti-corruption reforms with a vote of confidence on Wednesday, relieving tensions after he threatened to dissolve the legislative body if it were to fail.

President Martiin Vizcarra (Peru Ministry of Foreign Affairs CC BY 2.0)President Martiin Vizcarra (Peru Ministry of Foreign Affairs CC BY 2.0)When Vizcarra reintroduced his ideas for combating corruption last week, his initiatives came with an ultimatum. Peru’s constitution allows for the President to call for a new congressional election after two failed votes of confidence, the first of which came in 2017 while Vizcarra was Vice President.

In April Vizcarra put forward hundreds of pages of political reforms, many of which target loopholes or workarounds that corrupt politicians utilize. Among the reforms, which are expected to be the focus of congress, are a removal of immunity for lawmakers, campaign finance changes, and a ban from office on those previously convicted of corruption.

“It is urgent to save our democracy from corruption. It is urgent to prevent people who are guilty of criminal offenses from representing us. It is urgent to promote the strengthening of political parties,” Prime Minister Salvador Del Solar said in support of Vizcarra during the confidence debates on Tuesday.

The past four Presidents of Peru have been caught up in the scandals relating to Odebrecht, a Brazilian company which filled the pockets of politicians throughout Latin America, which admitted to giving over US$800 million in bribes in the past decade.

Former Presidents Kuczynski, Humala, Garcia, and Toledo have all been accused of corruption relating to the scandal: one is in prison, one faces extradition, one is on house arrest, and another killed himself before police could arrest him.

But some saw Vizcarra’s move as too drastic, even going as far as to call it a “coup.”

“We lament the adjectives and name-calling he has used against Congress,” opposition legislator Luz Salgado said, according to Reuters.

Vizcarra doesn’t seem to mind the intensity of the dialogue, saying the reforms are what his country deserves.

“They keep putting up obstacles, building a system of impunity and doing all they can to keep Peru from progressing,” Vizcarra said during a speech last week. “It’s unacceptable.”