Bling, Bling

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Peruvian authorities raided the home of President Dina Boluarte and the presidential palace over the weekend as part of an “unlawful enrichment” probe over reports that the leader had been wearing Rolex watches since taking office in December 2022, the New York Times reported.

Last month, Peruvian prosecutors launched an investigation into Boluarte after an online news program showed she started wearing luxurious watches in the last 16 months.

Local outlets later reported that she had been wearing a number of Rolex watches – one reportedly costing at least $14,000 – and a $50,000 Cartier bracelet. They added that banking authorities also found around $300,000 in deposits of unknown origin made to Boluarte’s personal account before she took office.

The raid came after prosecutors said the president failed to appear for a scheduled appointment last week to explain how she obtained the expensive items and her refusal to allow them to execute a search warrant on her house.

Authorities suspect Boluarte has violated Peru’s laws that require elected officials to report any assets worth more than $2,700 and disclose any gifts received from third parties.

Boluarte denied wrongdoing and accused the outlets of promoting “chaos and uncertainty.” Ministers in her cabinet also voiced support for the president, with some suggesting that the watches were knockoffs, while others calling the raid “unconstitutional” and “disproportionate.”

The probe comes amid economic woes and increasing poverty in Peru, which has experienced a series of political crises and six presidents in as many years.

Analysts said the controversy could reignite political turmoil and erode Boluarte’s support, which has already been low since she took office.

Boluarte, a former civil servant turned politician for a Marxist party, served as vice president under President Pedro Castillo, before succeeding him following his impeachment and arrest in 2022 for attempting to seize control of Congress and the justice system.

Despite earlier promises to resign and pave the way for new elections, her decision to replace Castillo sparked violent protests in late 2022 and early 2023, resulting in 49 civilian deaths in police and military crackdowns on protesters.

A January poll labeled her as the least popular president in Latin America with just a nine-percent approval rating.

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