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Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski-ppk

President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski from 2016 to 2018

A hostile Congress and the Odebrecht corruption scandal broke PPKs neck

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK), a highly respected economist and invest banker, who worked among others at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund before entering Peruvian politics where he served as Minister of Energy and Mines in the early 1980s under President Fernando Belaúnde Terry, and as Minister of Economy and Finance and Prime Minister under President Alejandro Toledo in the early 2000s, narrowly defeated Keiko Fujimori in the 2016 presidential elections and was sworn in as Peruvian President on July 28, 2016.

But his presidency unfortunately was doomed from the beginning. Even though it seemed that PPK was trying hard to bring the country together and forward, deepen international relations, fight corruption, initiate useful changes, better the economic and social situation of many and integrate indigenous and minorities, he mostly was only supported by Peruvians living in the city.

In the rural areas of the Peruvian highlands and jungle, however, he and his US American wife Nancy Lange were regarded with suspicion; some go as far as speaking about “reverse racism” as PPK, although born in Lima, had German parents who fled the Nazi regime in the 1930s, and held next to his Peruvian as well the US citizenship which he renounced in 2015 before running for presidency. So, he and the Peruvian First Lady were never seen and accepted as “real” Peruvian.

PPK during his election campaign 2016
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (middle) and his closest ally Martin Vizcarra (left) during the 2016 election campaign

Kuczynski’s biggest obstacle however was that he and his party Peruanos Por el Kambio (Peruvians for Change) didn’t have the majority in congress. The Peruvian Congress was controlled by the Fuerza Popular (Popular Force) under his opponent Keiko Fujimori, who seemingly couldn’t overcome her defeat in the presidential elections and had her very own power-political interests. Countless bills and draft laws with changes for the good of the country brought into congress by PPK were blocked, numerous respected ministers, including PPK's closest ally and Minister of Transport and Communication Martin Vizcarra, were forced from his cabinet on flimsy grounds with corruption allegations and votes of no confidence making governing difficult.

In 2017 PPK himself, who from the beginning took a tough approach in cracking down on corruption, was accused of being involved in the corruption scandal surrounding Brazilian construction company Odebrecht which he vehemently denied. In the coming years, Odebrecht which had carried out numerous major infrastructure projects in Peru and lots of other bigger and smaller projects and had admitted to having paid more or less US$ 29 million to Peruvian officials between the early 2000s and 2014 during the presidency of Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006), Alan Garcia (2006-2011) and Ollanta Humala (2011-2016) to secure several construction and engineering projects would shake up Peru’s political establishment quite badly. You can find a detailed insight in the corruption and bribery scheme of the Brazilian construction company in Peru Telegraph’s article “Odebrecht - a huge corruption scandal shakes Peru and Latin America”.

After PPK had to admit that one of his consultant firms received advisory fees (no bribes) from Odebrecht while he was Peru's Minister of Economy and Finance between 2004 and 2005, Keiko Fujimori and her Fuerza Popular party started impeachment proceedings against Kuczynski due to “moral incapacity” to lead the country. He survived the vote thanks to the support from a few renegade Fuerza Popular members; among them Kenji Fujimori, Keiko’s younger brother. When a few days after the vote Alberto Fujimori, father of Keiko and Kenji and former controversial Peruvian president, who served a long prison sentence for corruption and human rights violations, was pardoned by Kuczynski, everything pointed to an agreement.

Former Peruvian presidents Kuczynski, Humala, Garcia and Toledo as well as Keiko Fujimori
With the Odebrecht corruption scandal in full swing, four former Peruvian presidents, including (from left to right) Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (2016-2018), Ollanta Humala (2011-2016) and his wife Nadine Heredia, Alan Garcia (2006-2011) and Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006) as well as numerous politicians, including Keiko Fujimori (right) and nearly half of the members of congress, other high-ranking officials, judges, lawyers and public servants are or were under investigation, some in pretrial detention including Keiko, others already sentenced,

Even though all involved promised to work together for the better of the country, the situation didn’t calm down. New scandals and evidence allegedly supporting the claims about PPK’s involvement in corruption surfaced. A second impeachment proceeding was initiated - once again with Keiko Fujimori and the Fuerza Popular party as driving force - and the vote set for March 22, 2018. Two days before the vote the then still president made clear that he wouldn’t resign and face the impeachment process for a second time. A day later the so-called “Kenji-videos” went viral, showing how PPK’s allies tried to convince members of the Peruvian Congress to vote against the impeachment by offering public construction projects. This was the last nail in Kuczynski’s coffin.

The only thing to do under these circumstances was resign. On March 21, 2018, the Peruvian President informed in a televised address to the nation that he handed in his resignation letter to the Peruvian Congress, in which he declared his stepping down from office. He explained his decision with the difficult situation that unfairly makes him look guilty and his belief that under these circumstances his resignation is in the best interest of the country.

The Peruvian Congress accepted PPK’s resignation a day later and as stipulated by the Peruvian Constitution, First Vice-President and Peruvian Ambassador in Canada, Martin Vizcarra took over as new Peruvian President.

Read the next chapter of Peru's history

After the resignation of Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK), Martin Vizcarra, First Vice President and Peruvian Ambassador to Canada, w...

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