Peru: Former president Garcia kills himself to avoid arrest

LIMA – A former Peruvian president has died after shooting himself in the head after police arrived at his home in the capital Lima to arrest him in connection with a bribery investigation.

Alan Gabriel Ludwig García Pérez, 69, was president of Peru from 1985 to 1990 and from 2006 to 2011. He also served in Congress.

On Wednesday morning, García shot himself in the head in his bedroom when the police were preparing to arrest him for allegedly laundering assets linked to the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht. He was then taken to a hospital in Lima where he was given cardiopulmonary resuscitation three times before entering the operating room.

Peru’s current President Martin Vizcarra announced García’s death: “Dismayed by the death of former President Alan García. I send my condolences to his family and loved ones,” Vizcarra posted on Twitter. He ordered three days of national duel.

All former Peruvian presidents in office since 2001 are linked to the Odebrecht corruption scandal. Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006) resides in the United States and his extradition has already been requested. Ollanta Humala (2011-2016) was also imprisoned between 2017 and 2018.

Pedro Pablo Kucyznski (2016-2017) was detained just last week as part of a laundering probe into his ties to the Brazilian company.

Former presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori, who lost the elections to PPK, is also involved. Her father Alberto, president of Peru between 1990 and 2000 is also in jail, but for unrelated human rights violations.

The Odebrecht case, which involves the last Peruvian presidents since 2001, had surrounded García when it was revealed that his former aide and close friend, Luis Nava Guibert, and his son, José Antonio Nava Mendieta, had received more than five million dollars during the second term of the APRA party.

Investigators say García took kickbacks from Odebrecht during his second term in office.
Odebrecht has admitted paying almost $30m (£23m) in bribes in Peru since 2004.

But Mr García says he is the victim of political persecution.

“It is an intellectual cowardice that they are saying that [that Luis Nava is his front man]. It is legal demagoguery. I have been prevented from leaving the country for four months. I have nothing more than what comes from my salary, my lectures, my books and my pension,” García had said on Tuesday.

Rumors about García’s health came to light years ago, when he was said to suffer from depression and other psychological problems, based on alleged confidential documents from the US Embassy in Lima.

The Odebrecht scandal has led to the jailing of numerous South American politicians, especially in Peru, where a judge last week ordered Kuczynski’s detention for 10 days because of some US$782,000 in previously undisclosed payments from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht more than a decade ago.

A hearing scheduled to take place on Wednesday was to decide whether to extend his detention to three years. Congressional allies of Kuczynski said he was also taken on Tuesday night to a local clinic with high blood pressure.

Garcia was a populist firebrand whose erratic first presidency in the 1980s was marked by hyperinflation, rampant corruption and the rise of the Shining Path guerrilla movement. His second term was more conservative, helping usher in a commodities-led investment boom.

In 2018, García had applied for asylum before the Uruguayan government, claiming he was a target of political harassment. The Tabaré Vázquez administration at first announced García’s request was to be granted, but reviewed that decision after a more thorough examination of the case.

In October, an opinion poll by Datum showed 94% of Peruvians believed the level of corruption was either high or very high in their country.