Alumnus Peruvian president resigns in wake of scandal
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski ’61, graduate school alum and recipient of James Madison Medal, resigns amid corruption accusations| Mar 29, 2018
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski ’61, graduate school alum and recipient of the James Madison Medal, one of the University’s most prestigious graduate alumnus awards, submitted his resignation as president of Peru on March 21.
Kuczynski announced his plans for resignation just days before he was set for his second impeachment hearing in three months. The hearing would likely have ousted him from office, as the opposition party appeared to intend to oust him from office, according to the Wall Street Journal.
His resignation came a day after secret video recordings allegedly showed key allies of the president attempting to buy favor with lawmakers, offering them a share of public works projects in exchange for defeating the second impeachment vote. Kuczynski’s scheduled impeachment hearing was a result of the recent scandal where he was alleged to have had illegal ties with the construction company Odebrecht.
“In the face of this difficult situation that has developed and has unjustly made me appear guilty of acts that I have not participated in, I think the best thing for the country is that I resign,” Kuczynski said in a televised speech.
Kuczynski narrowly avoided impeachment the first time in December, when he was alleged to have made a deal with lawmaker Kenji Fujimori and other members of Peru’s right-wing party, Popular Force, pardoning Fujimori’s father, Alberto Fujimori, the former president and dictator of Peru, in exchange for votes in Kuczynski’s favor.
Kenji Fujimori was among the lawmakers with whom Kuczynski’s allies were allegedly attempting to curry favor in the secret videos that ultimately led to his resignation. Additionally, those videos were released by Popular Force, under the leadership of Kenji Fujimori’s sister, Keiko Fujimori.
Carolina Salazar ’18, one of the University’s two current undergraduate students from Peru, said she supported Kuczynski in the initial portions of his presidency. It was his pardoning of Fujimori combined with his lack of ability to be assertive that, according to Salazar, made him lose much public support. He was simply politically outmaneuvered by the Fujimori family, she said.
“For me as a Peruvian, it’s a story that’s so full of oh-so-much irony,” Salazar said. “[Kuczynski] has been an excellent economist. He has clearly done very well in his business endeavours, but I think politically they ate him alive.”
The Peruvian Congress accepted Kuczynski’s resignation two days after his announcement. According to the Guardian, Kuczynski is now the first sitting president in Latin America to have been forced out due to alleged illegal ties with a major Latin American company. Kuczynski continued to deny the accusations in his resignation speech.
“I categorically reject these unproved accusations and I reaffirm my commitment to an honest, moral, and just Peru for all,” Kuczynski asserted.
Martín Vizcarra was sworn in Friday, March 23. Vizcarra had been serving as Peru’s first vice president and ambassador to Canada. The new president promised to fight corruption. Keiko Fujimori wished the new president success on Twitter.
“This is a time to be united as Peruvians, firm and optimistic about the challenges that await us,” Keiko Fujimori wrote on Twitter.
Salazar emphasized that Kuczynski’s story is very much about the Fujimori family, saying that his ousting was a political power play.
“I really don’t think that Keiko Fujimori wants to oust [Kuczynski] because he’s in breach of moral ability,” said Salazar. “Literally every other politician, except for maybe a handful, have been so much more in breach of morals, in moral incapacity, than Kuczynski. The thing is, these other people know how to cook the books.”
Although Salazar does not consider herself particularly politically involved on campus, she asserted that all of the controversy surrounding Kuczynski and the Fujimori family has caused her to become far more politically conscious.
“It’s very messy,” said Salazar. “It’s better than ‘House of Cards’.”