Puno regional government denies hiring unqualified cronies for consultant posts paid with United Nations funds

The head of Puno’s regional government, Hernán Fuentes, denied allegations that he illegally hired unqualified personnel with funds from the United Nations Development Programme, or UNDP. The news, which generated sharp reactions in Lima, was widely reported in Peru’s newspapers Wednesday.

Fuentes, who is being investigated for allegedly hiring government consultants that did not meet the minimum set requirements for employment, and footing the bill with UNDP funds, appeared before Congress’ Audit Commission Tuesday. He contended the allegations were little more than political persecution by the central government.

According to the Comptroller General, who lodged a formal complaint, the employees hired by Fuentes had previously worked for Radio TV Peru, a company incorporated in 1999 and owned and managed by Fuentes and his wife, Lidia Hancco Navarro.

These employees, the Comptroller General argued, were under qualified for the position, yet paid more than 30,000 soles, or $10,500 annually, daily El Comercio reported.

But, according to Fuentes, all of the consultants that were hired since his election met the set requirement of possessing, at the very least, a bachelor’s degree.

“The Comptroller General already knows about this case, and the same one is being investigated by the Congress,” Fuentes was quoted as saying in La Republica. “This is clearly evidence of political persecution.”

Fuentes, a strong supporter of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, or ALBA, the network of cultural centers, which many Peruvian lawmakers believe are ideological fronts funded and orchestrated by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to meddle in Peru’s internal affairs and promote a regional revolution, has repeatedly accused Garcia’s government of political persecution against him and earlier this year said he was considering seeking political asylum in Bolivia.

“We are like oil and water,” Fuentes has said about Garcia. “We have different ideas about Peru’s political, economic and social future.”

According to daily La Republica, the Attorney General’s Office has registered 38 formal complaints against Fuentes, some of which are for the irregular use of a vehicle in Puno and for attempting to legalize coca.

Fuentes has attempted to liberalize the cultivation of coca — the plant from which alkaloids are extracted to produce cocaine – and has also pushed for local autonomy.

In Peru, his call for political autonomy from Lima amounts to an ideological mirror image of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, with President Garcia’s pro-market administration depicting him as a pawn of Chavez — Morales’ closest ally in the region.

Sharing is caring!

Comments are closed.