Peru's Vizcarra loses first minister to scandal

LIMA (Reuters) - Peru’s production minister announced his resignation on Wednesday after a local TV channel revealed he had offered to fire his deputy minister to avert a strike by fishermen, marking the first scandal to roil President Martin Vizcarra’s Cabinet.

Production Minister Daniel Cordova’s departure followed the broadcasting of an audio recording by local TV channel Panorama in which he was heard agreeing to fire his deputy minister at the request of fishermen threatening to go on strike.

Cordova has acknowledged the authenticity of the recording and said on Twitter that he offered to resign to keep the controversy from distracting Vizcarra’s government.

Vizcarra, a former vice president, took office last month to replace former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who resigned following repeated scandals that were fueled by secret recordings of his ministers and allies, which were made public by local news media and opposition lawmakers.

Vizcarra must govern through 2021 with an opposition-controlled Congress. He has promised a hard line on corruption and has vowed to refocus the government’s efforts on infrastructure spending to revive economic growth that slowed to 2.5 percent last year.

Reporting by Teresa Cespedes; writing by Mitra Taj; editing by Jonathan Oatis