Peru’s special prison for former presidents, Barbadillo, which has three custom-built cells akin to small apartment units, is currently full due to high-profile convictions for corruption.
Backdrop: The prison came into existence due to violence and overcrowding in standard prisons.
* The first inmate, former President Alberto Fujimori, arrived in 2007 to serve a 25-year sentence for human rights abuses.
Current inmates: The prison currently houses former presidents Pedro Castillo and Alejandro Toledo.
* Castillo was arrested for trying to dissolve congress and rule by decree.
* Toledo faces charges of money laundering during his presidency in the early 2000s.
Global comparison: In the context of prosecuting and jailing ex-presidents, Peru seems to hold a record for the highest number behind bars at once.
* “Many people abroad say: ‘At least you get them in jail.’” says Rosa María Palacios, a Lima lawyer.
Consequences: The ongoing jailing of presidents symbolizes Peru’s endemic corruption and political instability.
* The current leader, Dina Boluarte, is Peru’s seventh president in the past six years.
* Peruvian historian Antonio Zapata sees the situation as “a fight to the death between the different branches of power with no clear rules.”
Political climate: The country is facing growing political polarization.
* In the 2021 presidential election, a losing candidate refused to accept the results and made baseless claims of fraud.
* The constitution allows both presidents to close down congress and congress to impeach presidents on ambiguous grounds.
Impact on Public Programs: Lima economist Carolina Trivelli expresses concern that the rapid turnover of administrations impedes the effective running of health, education, public works and other government-run programs.
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