PERU: Former President Latest Arrest in Odebrecht Corruption Ring

By Matt Handocerdos

Former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo was arrested Tuesday and faces possible extradition from California under charges of corruption for accepting $20 million in bribes from Latin America’s biggest construction firm Grupo Odebrecht.

Toledo fled Peru in 2017 to evade arrest for the bribery allegation. His whereabouts were unconfirmed until he was arrested for public intoxication in a San Mateo County restaurant in March, at which time the Sheriffs notified Peruvian officials and Interpol. Toledo had been living discreetly in California near San Francisco since fleeing his home country; he was found with a briefcase containing $40,000 upon his arrest.

Toledo is being held in Santa Rita jail in Alameda County, CA

Toledo is not the first Latin American official to be implicated in corruption charges involving Grupo Odebrecht. He is the fourth Peruvian president implicated in the investigation, alongside Ollanta Humala, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, and Alan Garcia. The fascist Garcia shot and killed himself in April while police waited outside of his Lima home to arrest him on bribery charges in connection to the scandal.

However it is not just the politicians of the old Peruvian state, several others including former presidents from other Latin American countries have also been investigated in connection with the Odebrecht scandal, like former Salvadoran President and revisionist Mauricio Funes and former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli. In 2017, Vice-President of Ecuador and social-fascist Jorge Glas was charged for corruption and bribery, accepting $13.5 million in bribes from Odebrecht. He is currently serving a six-year prison sentence.

The Odebrecht scandal grew out of the Brazilian criminal investigation “Operation Car Wash” which was initially investigating money laundering and the bribery scandal with the state-controlled oil company Petrobras. Nearly one third of Brazil’s government ministers who served under former president, Michel Temer, have been investigated for their involvement.

In 2015 Brazilian police arrested Marcelo Odebrecht, grandson of the founder of Grupo Odebrecht, on charges of “bribery, money laundering, and organized crime.” He was sentenced to nineteen years for paying approximately $30 million in bribes. After Marcelo’s arrest, more politicians were implicated in the scandal.

Marcelo Odebrecht, arrested by Federal Police in 2015

Odebrecht, after falling $13 billion in debt, filed for bankruptcy last month.

The crises of Odebrecht, Petrobras, Peru, Brazil and the rest of the semi-colonial and semi-feudal oppressed nations of Latin America are interconnected with US imperialism and bureaucratic capitalism. The comprador and bureaucratic factions of the big bourgeoisie struggle with each other for domination of their country’s economy, fighting over who will be the richest benefactor in service of US imperialism.

Current Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra is often portrayed as democratic and anti-corruption. His proposed legislative reforms would take away parliamentary immunity and bar people convicted of crimes to run for office, however his reforms are weak attempts of regaining legitimacy to the old, decaying Peruvian state.

It is evident by the popular cries, mass unrest, and the ongoing People’s War led by the Communist Party of Peru that the old state is unsalvageable. In the face of economic crises across Latin America, bureaucratic capitalism, born sick under the thumb of imperialism, continues to decay and give birth to the conditions that ripen the revolutionary movement.