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Weekly Report - 20 February 2020 (WR-20-07)

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Heads roll over Odebrecht scandal in Peru

Peru’s President Martín Vizcarra swore-in four new cabinet ministers on 13 February. The mini-cabinet reshuffle was unplanned but Vizcarra was compelled to act in order to preserve his government’s credibility, having established a reputation for its uncompromising stance on corruption.

Susana Vilca Achata picks up the energy and mines portfolio from Juan Carlos Lui, whose position became untenable after it emerged that through his company, Conasac, he had provided services to the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht between 2010 and 2014 at the same time as he was serving as an adviser and consultant to the energy and mines ministry for which he been tasked with drawing up a report into the gas pipeline project Gasoducto Sur Peruano (GSP) [WR-20-06].

The justice and human rights minister, Ana Teresa Revilla, resigned after it was revealed that she had brokered a recent meeting between Liu and Odebrecht representatives over the GSP. Revilla, who had only been in the position for four months, was replaced by Fernando Castañeda, who had served as deputy justice minister under Vicente Zeballos before he was promoted to prime minister.

“Those that feel threatened by the actions of the judiciary want to attack the government to shake it from its objective [to combat corruption] but they are not going to manage it,” President Vizcarra insisted. He described the cabinet changes as “appropriate”.

Vizcarra also made two further cabinet changes. Martín Benavides, the head of the national superintendence of university education (Sunedu) since March 2018, replaces Flor Pablo as the education minister, and Carlos Lozada Contreras takes over from Edmer Trujillo as transport and communications minister. Trujillo had been criticised for months for irregularities surrounding the regional hospital in the southern region of Moquegua and the explosion of a gas tanker in Lima, which claimed 30 lives at the end of last month. Trujillo, a close associate of Vizcarra’s from the latter’s days as governor of Moquegua, has now twice resigned his position. He was brought back into the cabinet by Vizcarra last October to reprise the role of transport and communications minister having been hounded out by the right-wing opposition Fuerza Popular (FP, Fujimoristas) six months earlier.