The Life And Death of Peru's Alan Garcia Perez
LIMA, Peru — The suicide of former Peruvian President Alan García Pérez marks an unprecedented event in the political history of the Andean nation. Garcia, 69, and a professed Christian shot himself in the head inside of his home when police arrived to arrest him.
The former leader had been under investigation because of reports that he was the recipient of bribes through close associates. According to prosecutors, in a corruption case known as “Lavajato” the Brazilian construction company, Odebrecht, diverted funds from a special account for bribes to presidents, ministers, and politicians in 11 countries across Latin America.
Early Wednesday morning, a prosecutor and a special police team arrived at García's home in the Lima district of Miraflores with the arrest warrant. It is at that moment that the former president locked himself in his bedroom and shot himself. García was immediately transferred to a nearby hospital where he died a few hours later.
García had rejected all the charges and blamed the prosecution and his political enemies for unfairly involving him. Until his death he claimed that "no evidence has been found" of the accusations.
Mauricio Mulder, García's political partner, declared that the former president’s suicide was an "act of dignity and honor to avoid being publicly humiliated."
Various Latin American leaders and politicians expressed their condolences.
The former president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, wrote in a tweet: "If he was persecuted unjustly, his suicide was actually a murder."
In an interview given a day before his death, the former president and leader of the APRA (Popular Revolutionary American Alliance) party had asked to wait upon the statements of the Odebrecht delegate to the Brazilian justice system, which he hoped would deny the payment of bribes. He also confessed to be Christian and said, "I trust in the history. I'm Christian. I believe in life after death. I think I have a small place in the history of Peru.”
After studying law at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru — and later in Spain — Garcia rose to become the party’s general secretary before eventually taking power. His relationship with the Christian Protestant church marked a point of reference in his second term. In 2006, he promoted a Supreme Decree for the Thanksgiving Ceremony of the Evangelical Churches. It was the first time that a president attended an evangelical service with pastors and church leaders from all over the country.
In response to his death, the Peruvian government has declared three days of national mourning. However, García's family did not accept the funeral protocols for a former head of state. "We do not accept hypocrisy," said García's ex-lawyer, Genaro Vélez.
García was a charismatic political leader and recognized speaker. Twice president of Peru from 1985 to 1990 and from 2006 to 2011, he tried for a third term in the last presidential election of 2016 but only reached six percent of the national vote.
He then traveled to Europe but returned to Peru to meet the requirements of the law in regards to the Lavajato case, seeking political asylum in the Uruguayan embassy in Lima, a request that was rejected by the government from Montevideo.
The death of García is framed in the midst of a political crisis in Peru, which involves authorities, political leaders, media and private companies; and in which three former presidents are under investigation. Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and Ollanta Humala are also currently detained.
Alejandro Toledo remains in the United States pending the completion of the extradition process. Keiko Fujimori, former presidential candidate and leader of the Fuerza Popular party, the largest party in Congress, remains in prison, accused of money laundering from the Odebrecht company for the elections in 2011.
It remains to be determined whether prosecutors will stop investigating corruption that occurred during García’s term of office after his death. His supporters remain steadfast in pointing out that it was during his term of office that the best results were achieved in the fight against poverty in Peru.