The Odebrecht scandal brings hope of reform

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PERCHED on a sandy hill overlooking Lima’s oceanfront is a 37-metre-high statue of Christ, a crude copy of the one that looks majestically down on Rio de Janeiro. It was unveiled in 2011 by Alan García, then Peru’s president. Now Peruvians see it as a monument to corruption. It was built with a donation of $800,000 from Odebrecht, Brazil’s biggest construction company, which has admitted that it paid $29m in bribes to secure contracts in Peru under the three governments that preceded the current one.

There is a risk that the Odebrecht revelations will undermine faith in democracy and that long-overdue investments in transport infrastructure will suffer further delays. But not all is gloom. In Latin America, “we are in an era in which public opinion is playing a fundamental role” in fighting corruption, says Mr Ugaz. And that means that, this time, there is a good chance that other countries will follow Brazil in punishing it.