On this special episode of “Two Gringos with Questions,” Chris and Ken speak to José Ugaz, Peruvian lawyer and former Transparency International Chairman, about the current political crisis in Peru. On Monday Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra invoked a constitutional provision that allows him to dissolve Congress after the legislative branch elected a magistrate to the country’s Constitutional Tribunal, defying Vizcarra. Vizcarra’s move has led to a constitutional debate in the country.
Since then, the opposition-led Congress voted to suspend the president for 12 months and moved to elect Vice President Mercedes Aráoz as the country’s new leader. However on Tuesday night Aráoz resigned from the position after she was accused of usurpation of functions and the country’s military reaffirmed its loyalty to Vizcarra. Speaking to Ugaz on Tuesday morning, Chris and Ken discuss the legality of Vizcarra’s move, Peru’s troubled history with corruption, and more.
José Ugaz is a Peruvian jurist and a partner at Benites, Vargas & Ugaz, a private law firm. In 2014 he was elected Chair of the Board for Transparency International and from 2011 to 2014 was elected as a member of the Transparency International Board of Directors. Ugaz served as an individual member of Transparency International since 2008, and was the expert member of the follow mechanism of the inter-American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC) in 2010.
Since 2008 he is a member of the International Anticorruption Conference (IACC) council and since 2017 is part of the Accountability Panel at Wildlife Justice Commission. In 2004 Ugaz was elected as Peruvian Eisenhower Fellow for the Multi – National Program and later that year, joined the Institutional Integrity Office of the World Bank. In 2002 Ugaz was appointed president of PROETICA, Transparency International’s national chapter.
Ugaz has served as an ad-hoc state attorney of Peru in several corruption cases. The most famous of them being, the Fujimori-Montesinos case from 2000 to 2002—in 2000 Vladimiro Lenin Ilich Montesinos Torres, the head of Peru’s intelligence service under former President Alberto Fujimori, was involved in a scandal after the release of secret videos that showed him bribing elected congressmen into leaving the opposition and joining Fujimori’s party. During his mandate, around 200 judicial cases were opened against more than 1,500 members of the Fujimori’s network. Montesinos was captured in Venezuela in coordination with the FBI, as well as other 120 members of the organization including the former Attorney General, President of Congress, Supreme Court Justices, Electoral Magistrates, Broadcasters and 14 Generals of the Armed Forces and Police.
Other duties include external consultant to Dutch organizations HIVOS and NOVIB for human rights assessment missions in Costa Rica and Sri Lanka from 1990 to 1991. In 1992, he joined the UN Peacekeeping Mission for El Salvador (ONUSAL) as Human Rights Official, and in 1993 was a member of the UN Election Observers Mission for El Salvador. He was a professor of criminal law at the Law School of the Universidad Católica del Perú from 1986 to 2011 and member of the board of the Law School for the period 1995 to 2001 and 2008 to 2014.
Ugaz is the author of “Caiga quien Caiga,” a chronicle of the experiences of the Fujimori and Montesinos case at the Special State Attorney office.. He studied law at the Universidad Católica del Perú, graduating in 1984. Ugaz received post graduate studies in Human Rights and Development from the Institute of Social Studies, Netherlands and Criminal Law from the Universidad de Salamanca, Spain. e joined the Lima Bar Association in 1993.