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Why Peru Is Always Just One Step Away from Chaos

With the ouster of Martin Vizcarra, Peru has extended a spate of governmental instability that few countries can match, with every president since 1985 but one either impeached, imprisoned or sought in criminal investigations. Amid public outrage and investor angst, the question is what has driven this record. Is corruption worse here than elsewhere in Latin America, or party rivalry more vicious? Or is there a flaw in Peru’s constitutional arrangements?

1. What triggered all this?

Vizcarra came to power in 2018 when his predecessor, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, resigned amid allegations he bought votes to avoid impeachment. Vizcarra was soon clashing with lawmakers himself over his proposals to stamp out graft in the judiciary and politics. With his public approval ratings high, he dissolved Congress 13 months ago. But the warring continued with the replacement legislature. The president had no party to defend him when prosecutors began investigating allegations from construction executives that he’d taken about $638,000 in kickbacks when he was a regional governor. He stepped down after lawmakers voted 105-19 on Nov. 9 to impeach him.

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2. Was the ouster constitutional?

Peru’s constitution allows for the president’s impeachment on the grounds of “permanent moral incapacity.” Lawmakers cited that article to justify starting proceedings against Vizcarra for allegedly lying when he denied the accusations. The Constitutional Court may reinterpret that article when it rules on a lawsuit filed by Vizcarra’s administration during a first impeachment effort in September. The Organization of American States said it expects the court to opine on the “legality and legitimacy” of Vizcarra’s impeachment.

3. Where does that leave the political situation?

It’s tense. Vizcarra is still popular and his ouster triggered ever-larger street protests by mainly young Peruvians who see the impeachment as…

John Quigley | Bloomberg

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