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The “Petrogate” shock to Perú

quimper.jpgThe bribes that were made so that the state run Perú-Petro [1] could grant to the Norwegian business Discover Petroleum five blocks of petroleum exploitation in preferred areas off the Peruvian coast have generated the resignation of the entirety of the ministry cabinet of Alan García. The scandal of “Petrogate” shows that corruption continues to be a fundamental obstacle for democracy in Latin America.

(From Madrid) CORRUPTION IS A FORM of treason to the patria. There is nothing more discouraging than to see and discover these facts, painful and dramatic. That all the corrupt are punished and that the weak are traitors. These were the first words of the Peruvian president, Alan García, after he discovered the first big corruption scandal to take place during his actual term. It is a very sensitive topic in Perú, a country that fears to revive the dark cases of corruption that involved García’s first government (1985-1990) and that perverted an incipient democracy.

The actual scandal, uncovered by the media, has motivated the resignation of the entirety of the ministry cabinet of García, starting with the stellar president of the Advisory Ministry, Jorge del Castillo. Also, César Gutiérrez the president of Perú-Petro has resigned.

THE RECORDINGS OF THE CORRUPTION

Three or four is enough of these criminals, of these Pharisees, in order to destroy a progressive construction. “León arrives to make sure that he has received 100,000 dollars for the case and Quimper gives him advice on how to evade taxes” All of this has to be destroyed by two criminals that spread out the booty. It has been left to make the same offense. These, also, are also expressions of Garcia about the scandal that traverses his government.

The case started on Sunday the fifth of October when the Peruvian press broadcasted recordings in which two militants of the governing Peruvian Aprista Party (PAP), Rómulo León and Alberto Quimper, talk about the payments made for the state run Peru-Petro granted to the Norwegian based Discover Petroleum five blocks of preferred petroleum exploration zones off the Peruvian coast. The company obtained the concession this past September. The Peruvian public feeling is one of shock. Two days before nobody with a cursory knowledge on energy issues could explain how the unknown Discover Petroleum had this excellent site concession, as published by El País.

“Two days after the first of the recordings was made known there was an announcement that both had been detained. Both had been expulsed from the PAP” The telephone conversations between Quimper, member of the directory of Perú-Petro, the state run business with a mandate to promote investments in oil, and León, representative of the petroleum, left no doubts: there were bribes. Leon arrives to be sure that he has received his part of the 100,000 dollars for the case and Quimper gives him advice on how to avoid taxes. In other conversations León and Quimper congratulate each other for having finalized the operation, in that particular one of the men calls faetón, a more pure style of mafia, and they agree to ask for a raise in fees for the success of their labors. León was the minister of the Fishing during the first government of García and Quimper was the tributary lawyer of the Peruvian president.

Two days after the first of the recordings was made known there was an announcement that both had been detained. The first ran away and was a fugitive of the law. The second was admitted into a hospital for stress relief after he was aware of the scandal; after the check up to be sure it was nothing grave, he was detained. Both have been expulsed from the PAP.

THE RESIGNATIONS

The scandal has effectively shocked Perú. The minister of Energy and Mining, Juan Valdivia, did not have another remedy other than to tender the resignation of the head of state. “Del Castillo is mentioned in the recordings by those implied in the plot, that suggests he was aware of the corruption” The ex minister named Quimper as a member of the directory of Perú-Petro in the ministry’s representation.

The opposition raised the motion of censorship against the ministerial cabinet that had all the markings to prosper. In order to avoid the problem, the cabinet in plain put forth their resignations to the disposition of García, who took a long time to accept the resignations. Only three of the ministers have been ratified. The major defeat is Jorge del Castillo, has come to be considered the protector of García to advance the presidency in the proximal general elections (2011).

Del Castillo is mentioned in varies recordings thus implicating his involvement in the plot, it had already been christened as Petrogate, and that the outgoing premier was aware of the corruption.

Of course Del Castillo has flatly denied his involvement in the plot but he had to admit that both he and Alan García met with the Dominican based business Fortunato Canáan, the other representative of Discover Petroleum, which divulged in the recordings. Canáan, “García reacted promptly and bluntly. Besides having accepted the removal of his ministerial counsel has marked the corrupters as rats” it is certain, it supplies medical equipment to hospitals in the Dominican Republic and Spain. The matter could become monumental and transverse Peruvian borders.

For his part César Gutiérrez has resigned as the president of Perú-Petro, the involved party.

The incumbent at the Second Justice Department of Anticorruption, Óscar Zevallos, is going to also summon the lawyer of Discover Petroleum in Perú, Ernesto Arias, the actual president of the directory of Perú-Petro, Daniel Saba, as well as the ex minister Valdivia and Gutiérrez. Each time, also, there are more voices calling that Del Castillo be summoned, among other charges.

THE PROMPT REACTIONS BY GARCÍA

“The media continues to be central in the denunciation of these corruptive acts that way heavily on those subjected to it” Alan García has responded promptly and bluntly. Besides having accepted the removal of his ministerial counsel he has labeled the corrupters as rats and has supported the imprisonment of those indicated.

Also he has requested help from all the political parties and Congress in order to root out the rot that has created doubt in our home. Finally he has assured that there would be done what needed to be done: That all parties involved will be departed if necessary in order that Perú is able to move ahead.

This scandal, come what may, it surely demonstrates yet again that corruption is going to be one of the fundamental barriers for democracy in Latin America. And that the media continues to be central in the denunciation and vigilantism of corruptive acts that hinder and puts pressure on those subjected.