Peru's presidential lineup: graft probes, suicide and impeachment

LIMA (Reuters) - Peru, the world’s No.2 copper producer and for years one of Latin America’s fastest growing economies, has seen a litany of presidents ousted from office or imprisoned on allegations of corruption over the past three decades.

Peru's interim President Manuel Merino announces his resignation in a televised address, in Lima, Peru November 15, 2020. Peruvian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

Last week, centrist Martín Vizcarra was controversially removed from office by Congress on corruption charges, and on Sunday, his successor Manuel Merino resigned after deadly protests, plunging the country into turmoil just five months before elections in April.

Many observers fear the Andean country now faces a period of heightened political uncertainty with the threat of impeachment likely to hang over any future leaders’ heads.

Here is the rundown:

MANUEL MERINO (Nov. 10-15, 2020)

The former head of Congress, who led impeachment proceedings against Vizcarra, resigned after two deaths during protests against his less-than-week-old government sparked an exodus from his cabinet and widespread calls for his removal.

Lawmakers had said that they would launch impeachment proceedings against him if he did not resign.


Lawmakers ousted Vizcarra after media reports alleged he had received 2.3 million soles ($640,000) in bribes from two companies that won a public works tender while he was a regional governor years earlier.

Vizcarra, who had long clashed with lawmakers, strongly denied the allegations, but was voted out of office after a second impeachment trial in as many months found him “morally incapable” of governing.

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Kuczynski remains under house arrest while prosecutors investigate him for favoring contracts with Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht while he was a minister under former President Alejandro Toledo.

Kuczynski initially denied any ties to Odebrecht. But he eventually acknowledged his consulting firm advised the builder on project financing. Kuczynski resigned from the presidency in 2018 amid pressure from Congress.

OLLANTA HUMALA (2011-2016)

Humala, retired from Peru’s military, is under investigation for allegedly receiving $3 million from Odebrecht during the 2011 presidential election campaign.

Prosecutors have requested 20 years in prison, but he has yet to see his day in court. Humala denies the allegations and has said he plans to run in the 2021 presidential election.

ALAN GARCÍA (1985-1990 / 2006-2011)

Former president Alan García committed suicide in April 2019 with a gunshot to the head when Peruvian police arrived to arrest him over allegations he participated in another Odebrecht bribery scheme.

A charismatic political leader who served two terms, García repeatedly denied the allegations of bribery.


Toledo is accused of allegedly receiving a $20 million bribe from Odebrecht during his tenure. He is free on bail in the United States, but faces extradition proceedings to Peru.

The former president, who has denied the allegations, spent nearly eight months in a California prison.


Valentin Paniagua is the only Peruvian president in the last three decades who has not faced accusations of corruption. Paniagua led a transitional government after the resignation of former president, Alberto Fujimori.

Paniagua, who passed away in 2006, was a seasoned politician and served in Congress for several terms.


Fujimori is serving a 25-year sentence in prison for commanding death squads that massacred civilians in a counterinsurgency campaign during his right-wing government. He was later also found guilty of corruption in a major scandal.

Former President Kuczynski granted Fujimori a humanitarian pardon but this was rescinded by a judge during Vizcarra’s term in office.

Reporting by Marco Aquino, writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Bernadette Baum