At least 345 political candidates in Peru have been convicted of a crime, including drug trafficking and terrorism, indicating a culture of impunity among the country's political elite and raising serious questions about electoral standards.
According to Francisco Tavara, the president of Peru's national electoral authority (JNE), the most common convictions were for failing to pay child support, reported El Comercio. Some of the crimes were more serious, however. Three of the candidates for the October 5 elections have been convicted for drug trafficking, three for terrorism, three for rape, and three for kidnapping.
None of the candidates who have been convicted for drug trafficking admitted to their criminal history in their sworn declarations, reported La Republica. Tavara stated that these candidates would be referred to the electoral juries, who would prevent them from participating in the upcoming elections.
In addition to these three candidates, the current mayor of the Cochorcos district in the northeastern province La Libertad -- Julio Cesar Diaz Carrasco -- has been convicted for drug trafficking and plans to run for reelection.
InSight Crime Analysis
The number of candidates with criminal records highlights a serious problem with corruption and criminal ties within Peruvian politics. Three of the country's recent presidents have been implicated in criminal activity, including former President Alan Garcia, who has been investigated for allegedly participating in a pay-for-pardons scheme. Last year, three governors, five members of Congress, and 11 mayors were investigated for drug trafficking, and according to the Anti-Corruption Attorney General's Office an estimated 92 percent of the country's mayors are currently under investigation for corruption.
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The current batch of candidates appears to be particularly problematic. Just last week, Interior Minister Daniel Urresti, who is himself currently facing a murder investigation, stated that 115 candidates in the upcoming elections have been linked to drug trafficking cases.
The fact that candidates who have been convicted of drug trafficking, terrorism, rape and kidnapping managed to make it past the sworn declarations stage of the electoral process indicates that the country lacks effective mechanisms for weeding criminals out of its electoral system. It also points to a belief on the part of the candidates that electoral authorities either would not realize they had criminal records or would not prevent them from running for office, which are both troubling indications of a widespread culture of impunity.