Peru: Humala’s first scandal involves ag-biz land-grab

Peru’s new populist president, Ollanta Humala, is facing his first corruption scandal, as his Second Vice President Omar Chehade has come under investigation by the Prosecutor General on charges of using his influence to arrange a police eviction of cooperative farmers at a disputed property outside Lima. Former National Police general Guillermo Arteta claims that Chehade participated in a meeting with three police chiefs at the famous Brujas de Cachiche restaurant in Lima’s fashionable Miraflores district, to discuss the conflict over the Andahuasi cooperative sugar mill and plantation in the Huaura-Sayán Valley. Chehade’s brother and cousin also reportedly took part in the meeting, where they lobbied the generals to evict the 1,500 workers at Andahuasi, so that Peru’s agribusiness giant Grupo Wong could take control of the site. Arteta says he was fired in an earlier purge of senior police generals because he refused to evict the workers.

Chehade—a former congressman and prosecutor who oversaw the extradition of Alberto Fujimori—has denied the charges. “We talked about everything, even soccer,” Chehade told a local radio station. “An eviction was never discussed and my brother has nothing to do with the sugar cane plantation.” Humala maintained five days of silence on the matter after the scandal broke on Oct. 15, and then said that he supports the investigation. He has resisted pressure to fire Chehade. (Diario Expreso, Oct. 23; La Republica, Oct. 21; Peruvian Times, Oct. 20; Peru This Week, Oct. 19; La Republica, El Comercio, Reuters, Oct. 18)

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