The Peruvian authorities have been investigating former Peruvian President Alan Garcia after he was accused of accepting bribes during the construction of an electric train by Brazilian Company Odebretch. After being implicated in the Odebretch scandal, Mr. Garcia was not allowed to leave the country for 18 months. This prompted him to request for asylum at the Uruguayan embassy. Garcia has been living in the Uruguayan ambassador’s residence in Lima since November 17thas he waited for a response to his request.
However, Uruguay’s President Tabare Vazquez rejected Garcia’s request saying that there are no grounds to the political asylum as the three branches of the state in Peru function freely. In his official announcement, Vazquez also said that it was the responsibility of the judicial branch to carry out the investigations. He concluded saying that the case was not of political persecution and that the Uruguayan government made the decision out of strictly legal and judicial considerations.
Jose Perez, a prosecutor of the case, has also accused Mr. Garcia of receiving $100,000 which is said to have come from the Odebretch fund, used in paying bribes in some Latin American countries. There is a possibility that he received the money for taking part in a Brazil conference. Although Garcia served as President from 1985-1990 and from 2006-2011, it was in his second term in office that he was alleged of corruption.
Apart from Garcia, many other high ranking officials from Latin America have been linked to the Odebretch corruption scandal. They are said to have received bribes in exchange for public works contracts. These include:
- Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006) – Alleged to have taken millions of dollars in bribe from the Odebretch project. He is now a fugitive in the US
- Alan Garcia(2006-2011) – Embroiled in the Odebretch corruption scandal and sought asylum which was later denied
- Ollanta Humala(2006-2011) – Accused of receiving bribes from the Odebretch in order to support his election campaign. He is currently at the pre-trial detention in Peru.
- Pedro Pablo Kuczynski(2016-2018) – Pedro resigned over a vote-buying scandal. He is accused of money laundering and is under preliminary investigations.
- Keiko Fujimori- (Current leader of the opposition) is in pre-trial for charges of taking $1.2 m in bribe from Odebretch.
Peru’s president Martin Vizcarra has welcomed Uruguay’s decision stating that no one is untouchable. In his Twitter page, he said that Peru’s democracy guarantees separation of power and due process. He also made it known that he will make corruption his priority. An opinion poll done by Pollsters Datum showed that Peruvians were tired of the endemic corruption.
After Uruguay’s announcement to deny his asylum request, Garcia returned to one of his homes in the district of Lima. In a statement, he said that there was no proof connecting him to the corruption allegations, and that he would remain in his Peru home and cooperate with the authorities. The Peruvian foreign minister, Nestor Popolizio also confirmed that Garcia had left the Uruguayan residence.