Peru’s president says streak of corrupt ex-governments will end

LIMA ( Associated Press) — Peruvian President Pedro Castillo said Sunday that he will not end up in prison for corruption and that his administration will end the streak of former presidents sentenced, investigated or prosecuted for this crime in the South American nation.

In an interview with state television and when asked if he is afraid of going to prison after the prosecution launched an investigation for alleged corruption in the form of criminal organization, Castillo replied that it will be “the exception.”

“It will be different with us,” said the president who broke his silence with the press after more than 100 days, without self-criticizing his management, nor responding to the accusations of his close circle investigated for corruption.

“I have come here to give this country another turn and I am sure that beyond the fact that they will not see me involved in acts of corruption, I am willing to give all my effort… I am sure that from this government There are no longer going to be governments that end up behind bars and I am sure that we are going to do it because we are willing to work,” said Castillo.

He added that they will not find “concrete data as the country has been led to believe” in the preliminary investigation against him initiated by Attorney General Pablo Sánchez. It is the first time in recent Peruvian history that a president is investigated during his administration. Six former presidents who have governed between 1985-2020 are convicted, investigated or prosecuted for corruption or money laundering. One of them, Alan García (1985-1990 and 2006-2011), committed suicide shortly before the police arrested him in an investigation for alleged bribes from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.

The fiscal hypothesis affirms that a criminal group led by Castillo received benefits from public works awarded to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, which is the national secretariat with the largest budget, some 3,344 million dollars per year in 2022, according to official data.

His former Minister of Transportation Juan Silva; his former secretary, Bruno Pacheco, and his two nephews—Fray Vásquez and Gian Castillo—are fugitives. Castillo almost did not refer to these involved during the extensive interview. He said he was “outraged” and that he “has not spoken again” with his nephews.

He also stated that he is not aware that his former secretary Pacheco had 20,000 dollars in an office inside the presidential palace, which were discovered by the prosecution without the former secretary explaining the origin.

“Many times they want to splash the president and I am sure that I will correspond to the upbringing that my parents gave me, to the training they gave me with values ​​and I would never be involved in attitudes of this type,” he said. He recalled that every time he talks to his father on the phone, he warns her that he will disinherit him if he finds out that he has committed any act of corruption.

However, Castillo did not make self-criticisms about his lack of care when hiring officials from his environment. “When we call a person to give him confidence, he already depends not on the one who gives it, but on the one who receives it,” he said. But he added that now he has “qualifications from the people in front of me.”

Since the beginning of his administration in mid-2021, Castillo has sworn in four prime ministers and more than fifty secretaries in the 19 cabinet ministries. Several ministers entered the position without experience, such as a health minister, named Hernán Condori, who lasted less than two months at the beginning of 2022, and in the midst of the third wave of the new coronavirus.

Castillo also said that in February he stopped wearing a hat that he had worn since the beginning of his 2020 presidential campaign at the request of his son and also as a gesture to achieve “a call for political unity”, which was cracked after his victory. before the then right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori.

In ten months of administration, the Castillo government has overcome two presidential impeachment attempts initiated in Congress. It is the continuation of a political crisis that began in Peru in 2016 that has caused instability as well as five presidents and three parliaments at the moment.

Both Castillo and Congress have high disapproval of Peruvians in all polls. According to the May survey by the Institute of Peruvian Studies, Castillo has 70% unpopularity and Parliament 87% disapproval. 67% of the population considers that the most convenient thing is for both the president and Parliament to resign and new elections to be called.

At the end of his interview with the state television station, Castillo did not respond to the local media that sought to ask him questions outside the television studio.

Castillo began his administration on July 28, 2021 and his government is scheduled to end five years later, on July 28, 2026.

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