Friday, October 10, 2008

Peru's cabinet resigns in bribery scandal

Well, word comes from Peru that the entire Cabinet of embattled president Alan Garcia, a U.S. ally, has resigned over the country's unfolding bribery scandal. According to the Los Angeles Times newspaper, Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo and 14 others resigned Friday as the scandal intensified. Alan Garcia, Peru's former leftist turned U.S.-aligned president, accepted the resignations. Peru's Congress has launched an investigation into allegations that cabinet members accepted bribes from a Norwegian oil company in exchange for potentially lucrative oil-drilling leases. "In no way will we be an obstacle for continued growth and all that is good for the fatherland," Del Castillo, who was Garcia's top aide, told the Times. Leaked audiotapes detailing the payment of more than $100,000 forced the recent resignations of former minister of mines and energy, Juan Valdivia, and two other officials. But it may be too late to save Garcia's presidency. His popularity had alrady dropped to 20 percent even before news of the alleged bribery broke as Peruvians grow angry at corruption and poverty in the rapidly growing nation, the Times said. Teachers, farmers, doctors and others go on strike regularly, blocking major roads, to protest conditions. Peru is scheduled to host the annual forum of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation next month at which U.S. President George W. Bush and 20 other world leaders are expected to attend.

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