Coronavirus Kills 20 Journalists In Peru – Union

 

At least 20 journalists have died from the coronavirus outbreak in Peru, most of them infected while reporting on the pandemic, often with little protection, the country’s journalists’ union reported Tuesday.

Peru is Latin America’s second worst-hit country after Brazil with more than 170,000 cases and 4,600 deaths.

“As of June 1, the number of dead colleagues is 20 in all of the country,” said Zuliana Lainez of the National Association of Journalists.

Many of them contracted the disease while reporting from streets, markets and hospitals on the effects of the virus, without proper protective equipment, Lainez said.

“They have gone to hospitals, which are foci of infection, with homemade masks,” she said.

Seven of the victims were from Loreto, in the Amazon basin, one of Peru’s worst affected areas.

A large proportion of journalists who fell victim to the virus were freelancers, with none of the protections afforded to company employees.

“Journalists dying from COVID-19 confirms the urgency of addressing health protection and job insecurity,” the union said.

Sharp Increase In COVID-19 Cases In Peru, Chile

People await to receive medical attention, outside the emergency area at Alberto Sabogal Hospital in Lima, on May 27, 2020. – Peruvian Health Minister insisted on Wednesday, that Peru has entered a plateau in the curve that registers the expansion of new coronavirus infections, a day after the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) warned that COVID-19 transmission is accelerating in this country as in Brazil and Chile. ERNESTO BENAVIDES / AFP.

 

Peru on Sunday reported 8,800 new COVID-19 infections, setting a new daily record for a country that already has the second highest number of novel coronavirus cases in Latin America after Brazil.

The death toll is now at 4,506, the third highest in the region — itself the new hotspot of the deadly disease — after Brazil and Mexico, with President Martin Vizcarra warning the country is only halfway through the crisis.

Infections have jumped in Peru despite a months-long mandatory lockdown and a nightime curfew and the government ordering international borders to be closed.

The spike is concentrated around the capital Lima, where one third of the population lives, and put tremendous strain on Peru’s economy and healthcare system.

Four out of every ten Peruvians lost their source of income when the lockdown began, according to one study, and last week Peru secured a two-year, $11 billion credit line from the International Monetary Fund.

– ‘Tremendous challenge’ in Chile –

Neighboring Chile on Sunday reported 57 more fatalities in the past 24 hours, a new record that brings the country’s COVID-19 death toll to 1,054.

“We are facing the largest pandemic of the past 100 years,” said Deputy Health Minister Paula Daza, as she announced the latest figures.

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“It is a tremendous challenge; we are living very difficult times in our country.”

In Santiago, where 80 per cent of the virus cases were reported, 96 per cent of the emergency room beds were taken, officials said.

Officials reported a sharp increase in cases over the past two weeks.

In early May the government of President Sebastian Pinera said that the number of virus cases had hit a plateau, and lockdown restrictions would be loosened.

AFP

17 Police Officers Die Of COVID-19 In Peru

Workers behind the crematorium chamber of the Campo Santo cemetery in the northern city of Piura, Peru, spray disinfectant on each other, after handling coffins of Covid-19 victims on April 15, 2020. Sebastian ENRIQUEZ / AFP.

 

Seventeen police officers in Peru have died after contracting novel coronavirus while enforcing the nation’s pandemic lockdown, officials and state media said.

Authorities admitted earlier this week that at least 1,300 officers had been infected by COVID-19.

On Saturday new interior minister Gaston Rodriguez, who was sworn in a day earlier after the sudden resignation of his predecessor when the infections tally emerged, said: “We have 17 deceased police officers nationwide, 11 of them in Lima.”

The high number is linked to “the exposure that police officers have when intervening with people who violate the measures issued to contain the spread of the coronavirus,” state news agency Andina said Saturday.

Peru has been on lockdown since March 16.

Rodriguez said his department had allocated 50 million soles ($15 million) “for the purchase of protection elements such as masks and gloves” for Peru’s police.

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He added that roughly 220,000 COVID-19 tests for the force were due to arrive by the first week of May.

“We have an obligation to take care of them,” said Rodriguez. “The police must be well equipped.”

Peru has recorded more than 25,000 infections and 700 deaths so far, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University in the United States.

AFP

Chile, Peru Close Borders As Latam Grounds Flights Over Coronavirus

Travellers await for their flights out of Peru on March 16, 2020 at the Jorge Chavez international airport in Callao, Lima, minutes before borders are closed. On March 15, 2020, President Martin Vizcarra announced a State of Emergency and a two-week nationwide home-stay curfew together with the closure of all borders on account of the coronarvirus, COVID-19, pandemia declared by the United Nations World Health Organization. Peru’s “index case”, detected two weeks ago was discharged today and so far no fatalities have been recorded of the 86 cases of Covid-19 detected in the country. Luka GONZALES / AFP.

 

Chile and Peru announced a total closure of their borders on Monday while Latin America’s largest airline said it was reducing operations by 70 percent as the region scrambled to stem the rapidly-spreading coronavirus pandemic.

Latin America has registered more than 800 cases and seven deaths, according to an AFP count, after the Dominican Republic became the latest nation to report a fatality.

“We’ve decided to close all our country’s terrestrial, maritime and aerial borders for the transit of foreigners,” said Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera.

The announcement came as Chile revealed on Monday its number of coronavirus cases had more than doubled since Sunday to 155.

Peru followed suit soon afterwards with President Martin Vizcarra announcing a two-week border closure from midnight, while Colombia announced it would close its borders until May 30.

Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay confirmed partial border closures. Paraguay also imposed overnight curfews.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced late Monday that his country would enter “collective quarantine.”

Latam Airlines said it was reducing operations by 70 percent, just four days after already cutting back by 30 percent.

“If these unprecedented travel restrictions increase… we’re not ruling out being forced to decrease our operations even more,” said the airline’s vice-president Roberto Alvo.

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Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador bucked the trend, saying he would not ban public gatherings or stop greeting people with “hugs” until public health officials said otherwise.

– Stocks tumble –

Chile rolled out a number of coronavirus control measures as the central bank slashed interest rates by 75 basis points to 1.0 percent.

The move failed to stop the Santiago stock exchange closing down 14 percent, its worst fall in three decades.

Regional stocks were battered as the Sao Paulo exchange lost almost 14 percent, Buenos Aires fell nearly 10 percent and Colombia plummeted more than 15 percent.

Brazil’s currency fell below $0.20 for the first time ever, prompting an emergency government investment of almost 150 billion reals ($27.5 billion) into the economy.

Chile’s closed borders caused a problem for a quarantined cruise ship in the country’s deep south.

More than 200 passengers and crew aboard the Silver Explorer in the remote port of Caleta Tortel are in lockdown after six people tested positive for coronavirus.

Health authorities want to evacuate the other passengers back to their home countries, but may need special permission.

– Cuba helping Nicaragua –

Cuba said it was allowing a British cruise ship to dock despite five people on board testing positive for COVID-19 and nearly 40 others in isolation with flu-like symptoms.

“We are working around the clock to arrange evacuation flights from Cuba to the UK as soon as possible for passengers on the Braemar cruise ship,” a British foreign ministry spokesman said.

Cuba is also sending specialist doctors to Nicaragua to help the central American country treat COVID-19 patients.

Ecuador, which has seen 58 cases and two deaths, banned tourists from the Galapagos Islands on Monday while authorities in Rio de Janeiro used megaphones to order people at the beach to go home.

Rio’s Flamengo football club, the reigning Copa Libertadores champions, revealed that their Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus is the latest sports star to have tested positive for the virus.

The city’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue was also closed to the public.

Honduras announced a week-long lockdown to prevent people from going to work, using public transport or taking part in religious activities.

The Argentine government announced work exemptions for public and private employees of non-essential sectors, as well as parents with school-age children.

AFP

Two Killed, More Than 30 Wounded In Lima Gas Tanker Blast

 

 

At least two people were killed and dozens injured, some severely, when a gas tanker exploded and ignited a major fire in Lima on Thursday, emergency services said.

The driver of the truck was killed in the blast, and a nine-year-old girl died of cardiac arrest in hospital after succumbing to severe burns, health officials said.

Seven other children were among 33 people hospitalized, some with severe burns, health official Ricardo Sopfi told RPP radio.

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Air force helicopters were used to transport the injured to hospitals.

The gas tanker exploded after the truck went over a speed bump as it approached a busy intersection in the Peruvian capital’s Villa El Salvador district.

The resulting blaze engulfed 14 nearby homes, fire department chief Alfonso Panizo told state television.

Firefighters brought the blaze under control after three hours. Others sifted through razed houses in search of survivors or pets.

Peru Vice President Resigns, Calls For Elections

Peruvian Vice-President Mercedes Araoz is pictured in Davos, Switzerland, as she joins Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Colombian President Ivan Duque while they give a statement recognizing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

Peru’s vice president resigned and called for elections Tuesday, hours after parliament appointed her to lead the fight against the president’s dissolution of the body amid a bitter deadlock over corruption and appointments to the Supreme Court.

“I have decided to resign irrevocably from the position of Second Constitutional Vice President of the Republic,” Mercedes Araoz wrote on Twitter alongside a resignation letter, adding she hoped for “general elections in the shortest term.”

Lawmakers had accused President Martin Vizcarra of a “coup d’etat” after he dissolved the opposition-dominated Congress and called for fresh elections Monday, voting to suspend him temporarily from the presidency and appointing Araoz as leader.

But thousands poured into the streets of Lima and other cities in a show of support for Vizcarra — whose anti-graft drive is widely popular — with the armed forces and police confirming their backing of the president and a dozen regional governors joining celebratory street protests.

“There’s too much corruption. Too much of it without any shame. It’s high time this happened, that there’s a change,” said protester Jenny Sanchez in Lima, as demonstrators waved flags saying “New Peru.”

The resignation of Araoz — who had allied with supporters of corruption-tainted former opposition leader Keiko Fujimori — comes after the Organization of American States (OAS) refused to get involved in the Peru power dispute.

The body said Tuesday that it was up to Peru’s Constitutional Court to decide on the legality of the dissolution, and that it was “fair that the political polarization in the country will be resolved by the people at the polls.”

A number of lawmakers were considering appealing to the court to revoke the dissolution, according to Congress speaker Pedro Olaechea.

Despite the heated stand-off, Peru went about its business as usual on Tuesday, with the only noticeable change being heightened security around the government palace and Congress.

January elections 

Vizcarra’s call for fresh polls on January 26 was validated Tuesday by the independent National Jury of Elections.

The upcoming polls will likely favor leftist parties like Nuevo Peru and Frente Amplio, which supported the dissolution, political analyst Fernando Rospigliosi told AFP.

Under an electoral reform enacted last year, lawmakers cannot run for re-election. A new Congress would only have a mandate until 2021, to complete the five-year period for which the dissolved Congress was elected.

Until the elections, legislative duties will fall to a 27-member Permanent Congressional Commission, 18 of whom are opposition lawmakers, led by Congress speaker Pedro Olaechea, who accuses Vizcarra of unlawfully seizing power.

Vizcarra has repeatedly clashed with Congress, which is dominated by the Popular Force party of Keiko Fujimori.

He had warned Congress on Sunday that he would dissolve the body if it denied him a vote of confidence Monday on reforming the method of appointing magistrates. The move was aimed at preventing the opposition from taking control of the Supreme Court.

Stand-off 

Peru’s grinding political stand-off has its roots in the 2016 presidential election, when banker Pedro Pablo Kuczynski beat Keiko Fujimori.

Although she lost her bid for the presidency, her party won an overwhelming majority in Congress, eventually forcing Kuczynski’s resignation last year amid a corruption scandal.

Kuczynski was replaced by Vizcarra, then first vice president, who has vowed to clean up Peruvian politics.

Fujimori is the eldest daughter of disgraced former president Alberto Fujimori and is herself in prison awaiting trial after being accused of accepting $1.2 million in illicit party funding from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht for her 2011 presidential campaign.

The Supreme Court is currently debating whether to free Keiko — once Peru’s most popular politician — from pre-trial detention.

Odebrecht has admitted paying at least $29 million in bribes to Peruvian officials since 2004.

Three former presidents, including Kuczynski, are also being investigated over Odebrecht, while a fourth, Alan Garcia, committed suicide in April after police arrived at his house to arrest him for money laundering.

AFP

Archeologists Find Remains Of 227 Sacrificed Children In Peru

Handout picture released by Programa Arquelogico Huanchacho on August 27, 2019 showing remains of some 227 children, allegedly offered in a sacrifice ritual by the pre-Columbian culture Chimu. PROGRAMA ARQUEOLOGICO HUANCHACO / AFP

 

Archeologists in Peru say the 227 bodies they have unearthed from a site used by the pre-Columbian Chimu culture is the biggest-ever discovery of sacrificed children.

Archeologists have been digging since last year at the huge sacrificial site in Huanchaco, a beachside tourist town north of the capital Lima.

“This is the biggest site where the remains of sacrificed children have been found,” chief archeologist Feren Castillo told AFP on Tuesday.

Castillo said the children, who were aged between four and 14, were sacrificed in a ritual to honor the Chimu culture’s gods.

“They were sacrificed to appease the El Nino phenomenon,” and show signs of being killed during wet weather, he said.

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He added that there may still be more to be found.

“It’s uncontrollable, this thing with the children. Wherever you dig, there’s another one,” Castillo said.

The children’s remains were found in a position facing the sea. Some still had skin and hair.

Huanchaco was a site where many child sacrifices took place during the time of the Chimu culture, whose apogee was between 1200 and 1400.

Archeologists first found children’s bodies at the dig site in the town’s Pampa la Cruz neighborhood in June 2018, unearthing 56 skeletons.

Pampa la Cruz is a short distance from Huanchaquito, where the remains of 140 sacrificed children and 200 llamas were found in April 2018.

The Chimu civilization extended along the Peruvian coast to Ecuador but disappeared in 1475 after it was conquered by the Inca empire.

Brazil Coach Tite Tells Messi To Show Some Respect After ‘Corruption Comments’

Paraguayan referee Mario Diaz de Vivar shows the red card to Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Chile’s Gary Medel during the Copa America football tournament third-place match at the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on July 6, 2019. PHOTO: EVARISTO SA / AFP

 

Brazil coach Tite told Lionel Messi to show some respect following claims from the Argentina captain that the Copa America had been “fixed” so the hosts would win.

Brazil clinched the Copa by defeating Peru 3-1 at the Maracana on Sunday but Tite felt that his side had been hard done by in some refereeing decisions and said Messi’s words had weighed on the officials.

“He has to show some respect, he must understand and accept when he’s defeated,” said Tite, whose side beat Argentina 2-0 in a controversial semi-final.

“We’ve been affected in many matches, even in the World Cup, so be very careful.

“He put a lot of pressure on because of how great a player he is.

“Everyone has their own problems and you have to be respectful.”

Messi had hit out at South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL, accusing them of “corruption” after he was sent off in Saturday’s third-place play-off in which Argentina beat Chile 2-1.

He’d also claimed after Argentina’s semi-final defeat that the tournament hosts were “managing a lot in CONMEBOL these days.”

Argentina had been angered that VAR wasn’t used on two occasions to check the validity of their claims for a penalty that hadn’t been seen by the referee.

Messi was then harshly sent off against Chile following a tangle with Gary Medel in which he seemed to do nothing wrong.

The Barcelona star claimed afterwards he had paid for his previous criticisms.

“My words had repercussions, but you must always be sincere,” he said.

Tite agreed with that, claiming that Peru’s penalty in the final — converted by their captain Paolo Guerrero — should never have been given.

“Today it wasn’t a penalty. You have to be careful and show respect, as we respect others,” said Tite.

Peru coach Ricardo Gareca, who is Argentine, agreed with the his Brazil counterpart.

“Messi is a voice of authority but that doesn’t mean I agree with what he said,” Gareca added.

Brazil midfielder Casemiro refused to be drawn on the Messi controversy, though.

“They can say what they want, we only talk about Brazil,” said the Real Madrid player.

As Brazil celebrated and posed for photos with their trophy, they were joined by the country’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, a deeply divisive figure who has been accused of making racist, sexist and homophobic comments.

As he huddled with the players, some of them chanted “Legend,” as his supporters do.

His reception from the crowd was more mixed, though, with jeers audible above many cheering fans.

Asked about the message conveyed by his team celebrating with Bolsonaro, Tite sidestepped it.

“I’m so involved with football, I know things happen, but the way I’ve been brought up is that my focus is my essence,” he said.

AFP

Brazil Defeat Peru To Win Copa America

Brazil’s Dani Alves (C) and teammates celebrates with the trophy after winning the Copa America after defeating Peru in the final match of the football tournament at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 7, 2019. Carl DE SOUZA / AFP

 

Ten-man Brazil held on to win the Copa America on home soil despite Gabriel Jesus’s dismissal with a 3-1 victory over Peru on Sunday.

Jesus scored the decisive goal after a penalty from Peru captain Paolo Guerrero canceled out Everton’s opener for hosts Brazil at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium.

A last minute penalty from substitute Richarlison sealed a win for Brazil which handed the South American giants their ninth Copa triumph and first since 2007.

Jesus’s evening went sour 20 minutes from time as he was sent off for a second booking.

The Manchester City striker was in tears as he left the field, making obscene hand gestures, angrily kicking a water bottle and almost knocking over the trophy plinth.

Brazil’s players rallied after the dismissal however to claim a battling victory.

Earlier, after a minute’s silence was held for bossa nova legend Joao Gilberto — who died on Saturday — underdogs Peru made a confident start and didn’t appear overawed by either their opponents or the occasion.

But it quickly became apparent that they were up against more accomplished players.

Peru coach Ricardo Gareca had said on Saturday they needed to prevent Brazil from dominating possession, but that was easier said than done.

Individual brilliance

Brazil started to stroke the ball around commandingly, and as they did that, they looked dangerous.

Their opening goal came from a piece of individual brilliance by Jesus, whose drag back fooled two defenders, creating space for him to cross for the unmarked Everton to drill home at the back post on the quarter hour.

Brazil were in control and playing like champions elect as Roberto Firmino found space on the left and crossed for Philippe Coutinho to stab wide.

Left-winger Everton was clever with his movement in dragging the athletic right-back Luis Advincula out of position and Brazil’s left-back Alex Sandro found acres of space to put in a deep cross that Firmino headed over.

Just as it looked as if Brazil would stroll to victory, Peru went on the attack and a Christian Cueva cross hit the arm of a sliding Thiago Silva, giving Peru a penalty that was confirmed after a VAR review.

Guerrero sent goalkeeper Alisson the wrong way from 12 yards and Peru were back in it just before half-time.

But they paid for their lack of guile and experience with almost the last kick of the half as Arthur was allowed to drive at the defence from midfield following a slip from Renato Tapia that left him space to attack.

Center-back Carlos Zambano also slipped, allowing Arthur to feed Jesus in the middle of the area and the Manchester City striker made no mistake, finding the bottom corner.

Changed dynamic

Brazil had a few speculative shots at the start of the second half but Silva, Dani Alves and Coutinho all failed to hit the target.

After some wing trickery from Everton, Alex Sandro crossed but Firmino headed wide.

Brazil were in complete control at this stage as Peru could hardly string two passes together.

But the dynamic changed 20 minutes from time as Jesus was given his marching orders for a second yellow card after a late challenge on Cueva.

The onus was now on Peru to attack and Miguel Trauco brought a near post save out of Alisson while Edison Flores fizzed a volley from outside the area just wide.

But amidst a flurry of substitutions, fouls and injury stoppages, the steam went out of Peru’s efforts and they were unable to exert any sustained pressure on the hosts.

Any hopes they had were extinguished when Zambrano was adjudged to have barged over Everton in the penalty area and substitute Richarlison drilled home the spot-kick into the bottom corner.

AFP

Peru Stun Champions Chile 3-0 To Reach Copa America Final

 

Peru stunned defending champions Chile 3-0 to reach the final of the Copa America for the first time in 44 years on Wednesday.

Goals from Edison Flores, Yoshimar Yotun and Paolo Guerrero handed Peru a deserved win which sends them into a final against Brazil at the Maracana Stadium on Sunday.

The stunning upset prevented Chile’s golden generation from challenging for a third straight title, following their wins over Argentina in 2015 and 2016.

Instead, the finalists from the previous two editions will meet in Saturday’s third-place play-off in Sao Paulo.

Little was expected of Peru in the knock-out stages after they ended the group phase with a humbling 5-0 thrashing by Brazil.

But after riding their luck — and being saved by VAR three times — to beat Uruguay on penalties in the quarter-final, they were a completely rejuvenated outfit in Porto Alegre.

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“The team has gone back to its essence, passing the ball and running hard,” said goalscorer Yotun.

“The game against Brazil was tough but this will be a different match. It’s a final that’s there to be won. We have to work hard and lift this cup.”

Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, the villain of that 5-0 defeat, was again faultless, as he had been in the quarter-final when decisively saving Luis Suarez’s shoot-out penalty.

He again saved a penalty and made a number of other vital stops.

“It’s painful for all of us because we fought for another title,” said Chile captain Gary Medel.

“Peru played a great match and we have to congratulate them. The played really well, worked really hard and deserve to be in the final.”

From the start, Peru dominated the reigning champions, with Christian Cueva wastefully shooting wide two minutes in after he was teed up in space by his captain Guerrero.

On seven minutes Chile’s Charles Aranguiz started and finished a superb passing move involving Alexis Sanchez and Jean Beausejour, by placing a precise shot just past the post.

Flores took advantage of an Erick Pulgar slip in midfield to dart towards goal but he dragged his weak shot woefully wide.

But a minute later he was alone at the back post to lash home left-footed from an Andre Carillo flick on from Cueva’s cross.

Timely intervention

Striker Guerrero made a timely intervention in his own area to prevent a Sanchez corner from sneaking in at the near post.

Yotun doubled the lead on 38 minutes after punishing Chile goalkeeper Gabriel Arias’s rush of blood to the head.

Carillo chased a long ball down the right-hand side and beat Arias, who ill-advisedly had charged from his area to the ball before picking out Yotun on the edge of the 18-yard area.

Faced with four back-tracking defenders, Yotun calmly controlled the ball on his chest and sent a low volley straight down the middle of the empty goal.

Equally importantly was Gallese’s one-hand save to tip over a Jose Fuenzalida volley a minute before the break.

A 2-0 half-time lead was the least Peru deserved after an enterprising performance against tentative opponents.

Chile were a lick of paint away from getting back into the match on 51 minutes when Eduardo Vargas’s flicked header beat Gallese but agonisingly came back off the post.

Peru should have put the game to bed on a rapier counter-attack on the hour but Guerrero and Cueva passed rather than shooting and Yotun ballooned over from six yards with the goal gaping.

Peru started sitting deeper, inviting Chile to attack and Aranguiz sent a rasping shot whistling past the top corner with Gallese a mere spectator.

Gallese then tipped over a looping volley from Beausejour and 15 minutes from time he stayed big to block a shot from Vargas one-on-one.

He was unbeatable and dived low to his right to palm out a venomous Sanchez effort from 20 yards.

Guerrero put the icing on the cake in injury time after rounding Arias, but Gallese had the last word from the penalty spot.

AFP

Peru Ex-President Garcia Shoots Himself While Resisting Arrest

Peruvian ex-President Alan Garcia/ AFP

 

Former Peru president Alan Garcia died in hospital on Wednesday after shooting himself in the head at his home as police were about to arrest him in a graft investigation, a party official said.

“Alan Garcia has died, long live Apra,” said Omar Quesada, the general secretary of Garcia’s American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (Apra) party.

Peru’s current President Martin Vizcarra expressed his sympathy on his Twitter account.

“Dismayed by the death of ex-president Alan Garcia. I send my condolences to his family and loved ones,” Vizcarra wrote in a tweet.

Garcia was president on two occasions, from 1985-90 and 2006-11.

Police were acting on an arrest warrant for money laundering linked to the wide-ranging corruption scandal involving Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.

Peru’s health ministry said the bullet passed straight through Garcia’s head.

Garcia suffered cardiac arrest three times while undergoing emergency surgery, Health Minister Zulema Tomas said.

Peru’s Ex-President Garcia Commits Attempted Suicide

Peruvian ex-President Alan Garcia inaugurates the 3rd Meeting of Ministers of Finance of the Americas and the Caribbean held in Lima.  Cris BOURONCLE / AFP

 

Peru’s former president Alan Garcia shot himself in the head at his home on Wednesday as police were about to arrest him in a sprawling corruption case, his lawyer and hospital officials said.

The 69-year-old Garcia was undergoing emergency surgery for “a bullet wound to his head” at the Casimiro Ulloa Emergency Hospital in Lima, the hospital said.

Peru’s Health Minister Zulema Tomas said Garcia was in “very serious and critical” condition.

“We’ve had to resuscitate him three times. He’s had three cardiac arrests,” said Tomas.

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“He is in a delicate condition and the prognosis is reserved,” added the health ministry, which said the bullet went straight through Garcia’s head.

The attempted arrest took place at 6:30 a.m. (1130 GMT) at Garcia’s home in the posh Miraflores neighbourhood of Lima.

“This morning there was a regrettable accident: the president took the decision to shoot himself,” Erasmo Reyna, Garcia’s lawyer, told reporters outside the hospital.

Garcia, who was president from 1985-90 and again from 2006-11, is suspected of having taken bribes from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht in return for large-scale public works contracts.

In November he sought refuge in the Uruguayan Embassy and applied for asylum but he left the next month after it was denied.

He is one of four Peruvian ex-presidents embroiled in various corruption scandals alongside Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, Ollanta Humala and Alejandro Toledo.

Odebrecht has admitted to paying $29 million in bribes to Peruvian officials over three administrations.

Some of those payments were allegedly made during Garcia’s second term in office to secure a contract to build the Lima Metro.

Peruvian press reports also claim Garcia received a $100,000 payment from an illicit Odebrecht fund for giving a speech to Brazilian business leaders in Sao Paulo in May 2012.

AFP