Some 92 percent of Peru's mayors are under investigation for corruption, a staggering figure that underscores rampant corruption and a culture of impunity among politicians.
According to a report from the country's Anti-Corruption Attorney General's Office, 1,699 mayors are currently being investigated for embezzlement, misappropriation of funds, corrupt business dealings, and collusion, reported Peru 21. This figure represents 92 percent of the country's 1,841 mayors.
More than half the mayors under investigation are running for reelection, including the provincial mayor of Chiclayo, who has been accused of 18 different crimes and, ironically, represents the Clean Hands Movement (Movimiento Manos Limpias). Three mayors are accused of 13 crimes each, reported La Republica.
In addition to the serving mayors, a total of 1,755 former mayors and 19 governors are also under investigation for corruption.
Peru's top anti-corruption prosecutor, Christian Salas, stated that the economic losses caused by corruption are "incalculable" and said the problem stems in part from a lack of control over state resources.
InSight Crime Analysis
Official corruption in Peru has reached endemic proportions, affecting government institutions from the police all the way up to the executive branch. Three recent presidents have been implicated in criminal activity, including former President Alan Garcia, who was investigated for allegedly accepting bribes from convicted drug traffickers in exchange for granting official pardons.
Nineteen politicians -- including five members of Congress and three governors -- became the subjects of money laundering and drug trafficking investigations last year.
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One of the governors currently under investigation, Cesar Alvarez, has been accused of running a criminal organization in the province of Ancash that doled out $1 million a month in bribes and hired hitmen to carry out targeted assassinations.
In the police force, cases of officers stealing gasoline have become so frequent that authorities recently announced the implementation of a new automated gasoline system that aims to prevent these robberies.
The fact that 50 percent of the mayors accused of criminal activity are running for reelection indicates a belief that they will evade conviction, pointing to a culture not only of corruption but of impunity.