During his visit, the Pontiff pronounced lapidary phrases about politics that affects "a large part" of Latin America
Francis’ attention centered on corruption during his visit to Peru, and it was one of the recurring themes in the press conferences. The first time the topic was approached was in front of President Kuczynski and the Peruvian political class. The second occasion took place during his appointment with the bishops of the country.
According to his speech, the Pope considered the scandal of Odebrecht a "little anecdote" of all the corrupt practices present in the region. To the Pope, the Odebrecht scandal is an example of what he called "I cover this, but you cover this".
Francis labeled the corruption as a "social virus" and, then, he urged the bishops to not neglect the leadership of the peoples. He argued that "If we fall into the hands of people who only understand the language of corruption, we're toast, there is no opportunity to put oil in their hands... the money is stuck”.
He even made the bishops laughed when he referred to the fact that all governments, since 2001, have been splattered by the scandal.
“What is wrong with Peru, that when one finishes being president, one ends up behind bars? Humala is in jail, Toledo is in jail [living in the US awaiting extradition]; Fujimori was detained until just now; Alan Garcia isn’t sure if he’s in or out. What is wrong morally?”
Corruption in Peru
Since the scandal started, the news of Odebrecht's corruption has centered the focus on Peru. The spotlight is centered on the corruption situation considering all the presidents who have governed Peru since 2001 could have been involved in it. Furthermore, the millionaire bribes to obtain tenders have been particularly significant in the country.
The current Peruvian president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, has been splashed with the payment of more than $ 782,000 to his financial consultant, during his term as prime minister of the former president Alejandro Toledo. Currently, Kuczynski faces the possibility of becoming the first dismissed for the case of the Brazilian construction company.
Until now, the president has been open to contributing to the inquiries, which began when the Investigation Commission in charge of analyzing the corruption network, demonstrated the receipt of payments from the firm to Westfield Capital, during the 2002 and 2006.
Odebrecht admits having paid, only in Peru, bribes of up to 29 million dollars between 2005 and 2014. This time period corresponds to the presidential terms of Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006), Alan García (2006 - 2011) and Ollanta Humala (2011 - 2016).
The corruption of Odebrecht in Latin America
Odebrecht seemed as an example of business success. It became the leading construction company in the region, having presence in 27 countries and having managed to enter North American, African, Middle Eastern, and European markets. However, it also became a worldwide benchmark of corruption.
According to the Department of Justice of the United States, the Brazilian firm distributed up to 788 million dollars in Latin America and Africa. The money has been linked to presidents, prosecutors, attorneys, and judicial representatives from 12 countries; such as, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, and Colombia.
The case, which became public in 2016, uncovered a systematic corruption model that covers a large part of Latin America. The scandal exposed the strategy of the Brazilian conglomerate to take advantage of economical and political scenarios to corrupt, win contracts, and increases its presence in the region.
This strategy has left presidents, ministers, and senior officials in jail for receiving bribes to favor the construction company in the bids.
LatinAmerican Post | Camila González C.
Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza