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Peru's President Survives Impeachment Effort


Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski listens as his lawyer Alberto Borea addresses lawmakers of the opposition-ruled Congress, in Lima, Peru Dec. 21, 2017.

Peru's president has survived an impeachment effort stemming from allegations of his involvement with Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction company that is mired in Latin America's largest corruption scandal.

A congressional vote late Thursday handed President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski a surprise victory. The impeachment motion fell just eight votes shy of the 87 needed to remove him from office.

Popular Force, the ultraconservative populist party that controls Peru's legislature, had said Kuczynski was "morally unfit" to lead the country.

Earlier Thursday, the president asked lawmakers to help defend Peru's democracy from what he said was a "hasty coup" mounted by the Popular Force.

The political crisis was a result of Odebrecht's acknowledgement that it bribed officials in the region for much of the century, resulting in the imprisonment of elites from Colombia, the Dominican Republic and other countries.

Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski attends a ceremony at the air force base in Lima, Peru, Dec. 14, 2017. In a speech at the ceremony, he di not directly address the Odebrecht disclosure about a transfer of $4.8 million to companies linked to him.
Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski attends a ceremony at the air force base in Lima, Peru, Dec. 14, 2017. In a speech at the ceremony, he di not directly address the Odebrecht disclosure about a transfer of $4.8 million to companies linked to him.

The scandal has had a more significant impact in Peru than any other country outside Brazil. Odebrecht was a participant in enormous infrastructure projects in Peru and has conceded it paid nearly $30 million dollars to Peruvian officials.

Kuczynski initially denied any ties with Odebrecht, but reports surfaced last week that a company owned by Kuczynski received more than $4 million from Odebrecht more than 10 years ago. The president also denied committing any illegal or improper acts and contended Popular Force was misusing its majority status to seize control.

On Wednesday, tens of thousands of people protested in the streets of the capital of Lima against the attempt to remove Kuczynski from office.

The protestors had various opinions about the legitimacy and the motives behind the impeachment vote, but different groups of protestors seemed to agree that corruption was rampant in congress and throughout the state establishment.

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