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Montevideo, April 25th 2024 - 08:48 UTC



Peruvian President targeted in corruption scandal over pricy watches

Monday, April 1st 2024 - 10:35 UTC
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A group of lawmakers began collecting signatures last week to call for Boluarte's impeachment A group of lawmakers began collecting signatures last week to call for Boluarte's impeachment

President Dina Boluarte's home in the Lima district of Surquillo was raided late Friday by the Police who went on to the Executive Branch's headquarters in the early hours of Saturday to carry out a search-and-size warrant granted by a Supreme Court magistrate to Attorney General Juan Villena.

Boluarte is under investigation after showing up at various official engagements wearing expensive Rolex watches that would far exceed the head of state's financial might, according to the prosecution.

It was the first time that the police and the prosecutor's office forcibly entered the home of a sitting president. Raids on the presidential palace had occurred before.

Boluarte was not home at midnight Saturday when investigators broke the door's lock with a metal mace. However, one of Boluarte's sons was.

Villena had said Tuesday that Boluarte showed “a clear indicator of rebelliousness” after telling reporters last week that she would come forward to tell “the truth” about the watches' scandal but kept postponing that explanation citing an “overloaded agenda”.

Boluarte first argued that one of those watches was “of yesteryear,” the “fruit” of her “efforts” since she was 18 years old, and asked the press “not to get into personal matters.”

At the same time, a group of lawmakers began collecting signatures last week to call for Boluarte's impeachment and Congresswoman Margot Palacios from the minority leftist party Peru Libre, which led Pedro Castillo to the presidency, filed a motion of vacancy against his successor for “permanent moral incapacity”.

Villena insisted that it was essential that Boluarte or someone else in her name “exhibit as soon as possible the three Rolex watches that are the subject of the present investigation, so as not to generate effects that could be irreversible and prevent the availability of those objects either by improper disposition, loss, destruction or deterioration, which could affect the investigation.”

The investigation began in March following press reports highlighting Boluarte's Rolexes. The 61-year-old Boluarte, a graduate lawyer, was a middle-income civil servant in a district office before she was sworn in as Castillo's Vice President. When Castillo was impeached on Dec. 7, 2022, she filled the vacancy.

Most of Peru's former presidents in recent history are either in jail, under house arrest, free on bail, or unable to leave the country.

Two-time President Alan Garcia (1985-1990 and 2006-2011) shot himself in the head on April 17, 2019, minutes before being placed under preemptive 10-day detention, during the Good Friday holiday.

According to pollsters Ipsos Peru, in February of 2024, Boluarte's popularity did not reach 8%. She has been linked to 49 deaths amid anti-government protests the days following Castillo's removal from office after trying to shut down Congress and rule by decree.

Later Saturday, Boluarte said the judiciary measures against her home and office were arbitrary and abusive while blaming the media for an alleged harassment campaign against her.

“I have appeared before the Prosecutor's Office and made myself available, so the early morning measure is arbitrary, disproportionate, and abusive,” Boluarte said in a statement. She added that she was “respectful of the prosecutorial investigation” but rejected the way it was done: “in a discriminatory and unconstitutional way.”

“Since when does a sector of the press worry about what the president wears or does not wear? I want to believe that it is not because of a sexist or discriminatory issue,” Boluarte argued. Following the advice of her lawyer, Boluarte declined to elaborate on the origin of the luxury watches “until I testify before the Prosecutor's Office to clarify the facts.”

In any case, Boluarte insisted she would not resign. “I took office with clean hands and will therefore retire from the presidency in 2026,” she stressed.

Prime Minister Gustavo Adrianzén first said in radio interviews that nothing “serious” had happened and that “a storm was being generated where there is none.” He claimed that the prosecution was causing “a political noise that affects investments” and spoke of a “destabilizing intentionality” to hit the president by those who “manage organized crime” and who 14 months ago sought her dismissal through bloody street protests that left 49 people dead. Hours later, he dubbed the police's raid an “outrage to the dignity” of President Boluarte. “These actions are disproportionate and unconstitutional,” he added.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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