New round of demonstrations calling on Peru’s attorney general to resign

World Today

Demonstrators protest againt Attorney General Pedro Chavarry at San Martin Plaza in Lima, Peru, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Chavarry on Wednesday reversed his dismissal of the lead investigators in a sweeping corruption probe into top officials, retreating in the face of a growing public outcry and a bid by the president that could remove him from office. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

Protests have once again erupted in Peru.

The country’s attorney general reinstated two prosecutors investigating a widespread corruption scandal, days after firing them.

But the reversal didn’t calm demonstrators who are demanding the attorney general step down.

CGTN’s Dan Collyns reports from Lima.

Street protests across Peru marked the start of the new year.

The country’s attorney general Pedro Chavarry abruptly removed the two prosecutors investigating corruption allegations against former presidents.

Public outcry forced Chavarry to reinstate the pair – Rafael Vela and Jose Domingo Perez – who have become national heroes.

On Thursday, an estimated 20,000 Peruvians demonstrated.

Peruvians routinely took to the streets in 2018 and the new year is proving to be no exception as, once again, thousands are marching against corruption.

This time, it’s the country’s prosecutor’s office which people want to see overhauled and the deeply unpopular Chavarry removed from his post.

“What we want is for the chief prosecutor to resign and for the decent prosecutors to push through a total reform of the office because it’s rotten with corruption,” said Judith Pancallala, a protester.

Many believe that protesting is making a difference.

“I believe this year will the year of fighting against corruption with no quarter,” Jorge Bracamonte, Peru’s Human Rights coordinator said. “We believe that the Lava Jato case will offer many surprises and I believe the guilty will finally pay.”

The public clamor is boosting support for Peru’s foremost anti-corruption champion – its president Martin Vizcarra.

Earlier this week, he walked to the country’s congress to present a parliamentary bill to suspend Chavarry who is widely seen to be trying to shield former President Alan Garcia from prosecution.

For a change, analysts said Peruvians feel their president is on their side.

“This president is seen as being distant from this situation and not involved in this plot and for that reason has the independence to really tackle corruption,” said Ivan Lanegra, a political analyst.

However, there are concerns that Vizcarra’s vow that Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction giant, should no longer work in the country, could jeopardize a potential agreement with the firm next week.   

So far, a plea deal with former officials from the Brazilian company has been key to investigations in Peru.

The firm at the center of Latin America’s biggest corruption scandal has admitted handing out 30 million dollars in bribes in Peru. 

Juan Carlos Hidalgo discusses Peru corruption probe

CGTN’s Elaine Reyes spoke with Juan Carlos Hidalgo, a Latin American policy analyst for the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Libertarian-leaning Cato Institute, about the Peru corruption probe.