Thursday, September 12, 2013

Peruvian Ex-President Toledo Accused of Corruption

Former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo is under investigation for possible illegal enrichment, making him the third former head of state in Peru to be accused of corruption since 1990.

Peru’s attorney general has launched an investigation into Toledo over suspicious real estate purchases by him and his family members. One of these involves a $5 million house bought by Toledo’s mother-in-law, a transaction which was conducted through a Costa Rican firm known as Ecoteva Consulting Group. Local press claim Toledo created Ecoteva as a shell company to hide his income.

According to the Wall Street Journal, political analysts say the scandal has damaged his chances of running for re-election in 2016, and hurt the image of his Peru Posible party ahead of local elections in 2014.

Despite rumors spread by political opponents that Toledo plans to avoid the charges against him by leaving the country, he has denied this. Yesterday, La Republica reported that a Toledo spokesperson announced he would not “escape to another South American country or Japan.” This is a clear reference to ex-presidents Alan Garcia and Alberto Fujimori, who both sought to avoid accusations of corrupt dealings by fleeing Peru after leaving office (Garcia went to Colombia, Fujimori to Japan).

That this is news is perhaps a reflection of the widespread public distrust of the political class in Peru. In July, this sentiment boiled over, and Lima saw mass demonstrations in response to Congress’ appointment of several controversial figures to top positions. President Ollanta Humala has also fallen victim to this trend, with his approval rating plummeting to a record low since he took office in July 2011.

News Briefs
  • Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has an op-ed for The Hill, in which he blasts the current administration’s negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Uribe accuses the FARC rebels of using the peace talks for political gain, claiming they are working towards “transforming Colombia into yet another member of the socialist, anti-American bloc known as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).”
  • The Christian Science Monitor features an analysis of the political campaign of leading Honduran presidential candidate Xiomara Castro, written by the Honduras Culture and Politics blog’s Rosemary Joyce. The author notes that Castro has the growing support of the cultural elites in the country, and is bolstered by her claim to represent the progressive policies backed by her husband, former President Manuel Zelaya. This includes a promise to hold a Constitutional Assembly, a proposal which sparked the coup which ousted Zelaya in 2009.
  • In response to Brazil’s outrage over revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency has routinely spied on private communications in the South American country, White House security adviser Susan Rice has recognized that there are “legitimate questions” about the NSA’s activities. Yesterday, Rice met with the newly-appointed Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, after which she told reporters that the U.S. is “committed to working with Brazil to address these concerns.” Meanwhile, Foreign Relations Committee of Brazil´s House of Representatives, which is investigating the NSA revelations, resolved yesterday to send a delegation to Russia to speak with former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
  • On Wednesday, a Spanish prosecutor recommended dismissing a lawsuit against Cuban state security filed by the family of deceased dissident Oswaldo Paya, according to the Miami Herald. The lawyer argues that the Spanish government has already accepted Havana’s version of Paya’s death, which maintains that it was the result of a car accident caused by driver error.
  • While a July poll showed that only one in three Mexicans are in favor of marijuana legalization despite growing support for it among politicians in the country, Animal Politico reports that a new survey indicates there is wider support for legalizing medicinal use of the drug. According to a poll by Parametria, over 60 percent of the country is in favor of legally permitting medical marijuana.
  • OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza has issued a statement lamenting Venezuela’s withdrawal from the American Convention on Human Rights, saying it “weakened” the Inter-American human rights system.
  • U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has canceled a planned meeting with Central American presidents that was slated to take place in Panama next week, citing the situation in Syria, according to Panamanian Foreign Minister Fernando Nuñez.
  • One day after day after Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed a controversial education reform bill into law, thousands of teachers took to the streets of Mexico City to protest the measure. El Universal reports that leaders of the dissident CNTE teachers’ union were received in the presidential palace yesterday, but according to BBC they met with low-level aides, which they took as a snub.
  • BBC Mundo takes a look at the rapidly expanding creation of small private businesses in Cuba under economic reforms backed by President Raul Castro. Since 2008, the island has seen the emergence of private investigators, psychologists, tourist agencies and other businesses, some of which are authorized and many which are not.   
  • InSight Crime features an interesting analysis piece by Matt Ince, an Associate Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute, who argues that the push for drug policy reform in the hemisphere could simply “displace the problem,” causing drug trafficking networks diversify their criminal portfolios.

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