Peru has a “Serious Corruption Problem” – Watchdog Group

Global watchdog group Transparency International’s annual corruption index showed that Peru falls within a category that includes countries with a “serious corruption problem.”

The index provided a score for 175 countries. Nations that received a score of less than 50 out of 100 are considered to have a serious corruption problem, Transparency International said. Sixty-nine percent of the countries included in the index had a score below that mark.

Peru came in with a score of 38, which resulted in the country being ranked at 83 of the 175 countries. Peru was tied with several other countries in that ranking, including El Salvador, Burkina Faso and Zambia.

Denmark and New Zealand are considered the least corrupt countries, while Somalia, North Korea and Afghanistan are considered the most corrupt.

In comparison to other Latin American countries, Peru was about average. Latin American countries that scored higher than Peru were Uruguay, which was the only Latin American nation in the top 20 at spot number 19, followed by Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba and Brazil. Peru came in higher than its Andean counterparts, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela. It also ranked less corrupt than Argentina, Mexico, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Corruption in Peru reached a peak in the 1990s during Alberto Fujimori’s administration. Transparency International ranked Fujimori’s administration as one of the most corrupt governments in the 20th century.

The former President was found guilty of corruption and human rights abuses in 2009 and is currently serving a 25 year prison sentence.  He is currently on trial for using military funds to pay for the editorial line of several tabloid newspapers and TV and radio stations —if found guilty he could face a fine of close to $9 million. At the same time, the Judiciary is getting ready to auction over $1 million worth of wrist watches and jewelry once owned by spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos, who is serving time in the maximum security naval base in Callao.

According to state prosecutor for corruption cases, Julio Arbizu, “There are 90 fugitives from the Fujimori era still to be captured.”

Meanwhile, Fujimori’s successors, former Presidents Alejandro Toledo and Alan Garcia, are also being scrutinized for corruption — Toledo for  his so-far unexplained ability to purchase million-dollar properties in Lima, and Garcia for a series of cases, including presidential pardons to drug traffickers.

However, corruption is also rampant throughout the administration system, with opinion polls generally showing very low levels of trust in the courts and justice system, in the police, and in Congress.

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