Odebrecht-related bribe revelations threaten to wipe out Peruvian political establishment
Armando Cruz and Cesar Uco
14 March 2018
A political earthquake was let loose early this month in Peru when the main business representative of the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, Jorge Barata, testified to Brazilian and Peruvian prosecutors that the multinational had paid out bribes in the form of campaign contributions—amounting to several million dollars—to the main political figures who have ruled the country from the beginning of the last decade up to the current president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK).
Barata’s testimony—part of a guilty plea in the Brazilian Lava Jato investigation into corruption—not only implicates all the presidents who ruled Peru since the collapse of the autocratic, corrupt government of Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), but also Lima’s former “left” mayor, Susana Villarán (2011-2014), and the main big business federation CONFIEP. The corruption seeped down to all of these figures’ main subordinates in the state apparatus as well as their associated political parties.
These revelations have led many to question the political future of all the figures involved, the most visible faces of the Peruvian political class for over a generation. Many commentators are arguing that all of them should withdraw from political life (if they manage to avoid jail) and that a new political class rise to fill the vacuum.
This follows the previous testimony that the former CEO of the Brazilian multinational that bears his name, Marcelo Odebrecht, gave in another guilty plea last year, detailing the bribes paid to officials of different Peruvian governments to secure giant construction and infrastructure contracts.
Odebrecht’s detailing of the…