Former UN Secretary-General: Corruption in Peru “has exploded”

The former secretary-general of the United Nations, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, said that corruption in Peru “has exploded” recently, as illegally taped phone conversations reveal allegations of influence peddling by senior members of President Alan García’s ruling Aprista party.

In an interview with daily La República, Pérez de Cuéllar, who was the UN secretary-general during most of the 1980s, said Peru has not advanced in the fight against corruption.

“What feeling do you have to listen again to recordings, illegally taped, that show members of the government involved in lobbying?” Pérez de Cuéllar said. “Unfortunately, the credibility of the country is falling. It damages us from all points of view.

“Who will approach a judge, who will approach a politician, a congressman, without the suspicion whether they are or aren’t (corrupt)?” he said.  “This is just awful.”

Pérez de Cuéllar was referring to recordings recently broadcast by local media of defendants in a 2008 oil concession kickback scandal implicating Congressman Jorge del Castillo, a stalwart of the Aprista party.

At the time of the surreptitiously recorded conversation, Del Castillo was García’s Cabinet Chief and was forced to resign following the revelations of the scandal.

He was first implicated by Giselle Giannoti, a former employee of the company Business Track, accused of illegal phone tapping.

Allegations of corruption on the recordings have also reached Garcia’s Presidential Secretary Luis Nava and former Housing Minister Hernan Garrido Lecca.

Despite the corruption allegations in García’s Aprista party, Pérez de Cuéllar said the president has done an overall good job.

“The current government, from the point of view of development for the country, is acting positively,” Pérez de Cuéllar said. “The president, from what I’ve seen — and I have talked with him numerous times — has a true determination, almost an obsession, that Peru receives private investment to accelerate our development, and I believe that is positive.

“I’m not a member of (his party) or of any party, but I think that he has managed a good government, and you have to recognize that,” Pérez de Cuéllar added.

Reflecting on his 1995 run for presidency against now jailed ex-President Alberto Fujimori, Pérez de Cuéllar said he left the process feeling disappointed and with some resentment toward Peruvian politics.

“In Peru, they are always buying elections,” Pérez de Cuéllar said. “Whoever has the most money, the most economic help, wins. I hope in the next elections it is not like that.”

Pérez de Cuéllar was born in Lima in January 1920, and joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1940 and the diplomatic service in 1944. H was a member of the Peruvian delegation to the UN’s general assembly at its first session in 1946.

He later served as Peru’s ambassador to Switzerland, the Soviet Union, Poland, and Venezuela. He was appointed the UN’s secretary-general in 1982 and held that position until 1991.

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