Peruvian Vice President resigns amidst corruption scandal
Weeks after a landslide of testimonies against him populated the local press, Caretas, a leading newsmagazine portrayed Peruvian Second Vice President Omar Chehade as a snail.
“Under the current circumstances, we could add about the young lawyer that he’s glued to his current position with the slime of a mollusk.”
Chehade, President Ollanta Humala’s former attorney, resigned from his post last Monday night, hours before Congress green lighted impeachment proceedings against him. He’s charged with using his newly gained political influence to support private conglomerate Grupo Wong in a land dispute involving three police generals in the dealings.
A favorite target of the Peruvian media for months now, Chehade was suspended as a congressman for 120 days in early December — he should be able to return to this post on June 20, 2012. Back in December, he didn’t wait to get the results of the voting on his situation; 106 votes were against him, one in his favor, with five abstentions.
On Monday October 3, 2011, according to Police General Raúl Salazar’s testimony, Chehade asked him to join a meeting at a well-known, fancy restaurant called Brujas de Cachiche. The meeting took place on Tuesday, October 4 at 8pm, and Chehade also told him to bring General Abel Gamarra, Police Chief for the Lima Provinces region. Since reorganization had taken place in August, two more generals completed the power structure in the region, General Abel Gamarra had been promoted to Regional Director, and General Guillermo Arteta was in charge of Northern Lima.
Under Gen. Salazar’s request, Gen. Gamarra flew from the northern city of Tumbes, where he was based, only for the meeting.
Things got disturbing when it turned out that the urgent call from the Vice President was all about helping Grupo Wong get a hold of Andahuasi, a sugar cane company whose lands also produce apples, pineapples, and other fruits — a shareholder’s feud had evolved into local workers invading its properties. If any major shareholder were to take possession of Andahuasi, considerable police support would be needed.
Gen. Gamarra felt abused and insulted, so he went back to Tumbes. Gen. Arteta, a respected officer among those who know him, became one of the most notorious voices against Chehade. At the Brujas de Cachiche dinner, Chehade showed up with his brother Miguel Chehade and also Miguel León Barandiarán, who acted as power brokers on October 6, when they tried to use an unsigned judicial order to pressure Gen. Arteta into acting on behalf of Grupo Wong. After Gen. Arteta refused to do so, he was sent into retirement.
Chehade’s fall has put him into a popular hall of shame, as he is currently being mocked everywhere. His political future remains uncertain.
Even Humala’s wife, Nadine Heredia, composed a tweet that everybody assumed demonstrated her frustration and disappointment with her husband’s former aide’s actions:
“Is it so difficult to walk straight??!!” Heredia tweeted.
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