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The special prison that Peruvian officials have established on the outskirts of Lima for presidents convicted of corruption is full. Attorney and pundit Rosa Maria Palacios told National Public Radio that the presence of three former heads of state in the Barbadillo prison underscores the deep instability that afflicts her South American nation.
Alberto Fujimori was incarcerated in 2007 for a 25-year sentence for human rights abuses. Pedro Castillo came late last year after he attempted to dissolve Congress and rule by decree. The leader of a peasants’ union, he’s been charged with rebellion on the basis of his alleged coup, but his defenders say that Peru’s political elites wrongly removed him after they twice failed to impeach him.
Alejandro Toledo arrived in April. He faces money laundering charges stemming from his tenure in office between 2001 and 2006. As the Times of Israel explained, his wife, Eliane Karp fled to Israel using her Israeli passport rather than return to Peru from the US after American officials extradited her husband to face charges at home. Israel and the US do not have an extradition treaty, so she might never face justice.
These are only the presidents and their families who were caught. Over the past 30 years, many Peruvian presidents have been linked, for example, to the infamous Brazil-based Odebrecht construction firm, whose executives admitted to bribing politicians throughout Latin America to receive public works contracts to the tune of around $800 million.
The instability that Palacios discussed might stem from the Peruvians who are sick of putting up with corrupt politicians making off like bandits while they suffer economically. Violent protests have become increasingly common as citizens take to the streets to denounce their leaders, wrote MercoPress.
On July 19, for example, tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest the government, the largest demonstration since February, when security forces killed at least 49 people in a crackdown on protests, wrote the Council on Foreign Relations. Local polls show that 75 percent of Peruvians want President Dina Boluarte to resign. But Peru has already had six presidents in the last five years.
Boluarte was Castillo’s vice president. Unlike him, however, she is a conservative who stands up for the business community, mining companies and other commercial interests that are vital to the Peruvian economy. These interests helped Peru capitalize on the spike in costs for resources in recent years, the Atlantic Council explained, though the country is now in a recession in part due to civil unrest.
If the past is any precedent, Boluarte’s chances are slim.
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