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Pedro Pablo KUCZYNSKI Godard

Pedro Pablo KUCZYNSKI Godard, better known simply as PPK and labeled a ‘gringo’, is a former Cabinet chief and minister under two different presidents, and a presidential candidate in 2016 elections. Comedians in Peru ridicule his American accent and his longstanding ties to Wall Street anger some in an impoverished nation increasingly hostile toward foreign mining companies. Kuczynski’s platform in 2016 elections proposed overhauling the police force and judiciary, increasing the minimum wage, reducing procedural steps in conducting formal business, implementing tax breaks for small businesses and reducing the national sales tax from 18% to 15%.

By 09 June 2016, with 95.5 percent of votes counted, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski's lead over Keiko Fujimori was "irreversible," according to local media. With less than 0.5 percent of ballots yet to be counted, the 77-year-old the former banker had a greater lead in votes than the number of votes still to be counted. The country’s main pollster Ipsos has Kuczynski's lead was “irreversible”.

Peruvian economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski will be the next president of Peru, the National Office of Electoral Processes (ONPE) confirmed at 4 p.m. the afternoon of 09 June 2016. After a long four-day count, Kuczynski, from the Peruvians for Change (PPK), edged out his rival Keiko Fujimori, from Popular Force, with a wafer-thin margin, winning by 50.117 percent to 49.883 percent. This tight presidential contest was the closest in 25 years in Peru, with over 18.5 million Peruvians having voted.

Kuczynski is a former Cabinet chief and minister under two different presidents. He was born in Lima on 03 October 1938. The son of two immigrants who came to Peru attracted by its social vocation. His father, Maxime Kuzcynski was a German physician of Polish descent, a pioneer in the treatment of tropical diseases. Kuczynski’s father was one of Peru’s leading public health administrators, pioneering the treatment of leprosy in Peru. He served in the German army during the Great War, fleeing Berlin in 1933 because his family was Jewish. Kuczynski’s father settled with his family in the Peruvian Amazon since the mid '30s, working there as Director of the leprosarium of San Pablo. This enabled PPK living part of his childhood in Iquitos. Later, his father was appointed Head of Public Health, Ministry of Health of the Peruvian Government. His mother Madeleine Godard, was a teacher and introduced in love for the arts and music, which are an important part of his life.

When he reached school age he entered a boarding school in Lima and then supplemented his education at a military school in England. After winning a scholarship, he studied Philosophy, Economics and Politics at Oxford University (UK) and received his B.A. and M.A. in philosophy, politics, and economics from Exeter College, Oxford University. He did postgraduate work in Economics at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University (USA), and holds an M.P.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs, Princeton University.

Kuczynski left the World Bank to to serve as deputy manager of the Peruvian Central Bank, where he helped engineer a currency devaluation and debt restructuring as a consultant to the democratic government of President Fernando Belaunde. He served as economic adviser and manager, and Deputy Governor of the Central Reserve Bank of Peru (BCR). After the coup President Belaunde, of October 3, 1968, PPK was arrested and exiled by the so-called Revolutionary Government of the Armed Forces led by populist military general Juan Velasco. Kuczynski went into exile in the United States, where he returned to work for the World Bank on Latin American studies and mining projects. He traveled to the United States where he settled and served as Head of Planning and Policy at the World Bank. He spent much of the next three decades in the United States working first at the World Bank and then for First Boston International, later acquired by Credit Suisse, and on the boards of several companies and private equity firms. During those years PPK knew the realities of the global economy as president of a mining company in the 1970s. Between 1977 and 1980 he worked in West Africa in the mining sector and delved during that time in the industrial sector.

After his successful career at the World Bank, PPK decided to return to Peru and assist in the campaign of Fernando Belaunde in 1980, who upon assuming his second term appointed him Minister of Energy and Mines. He served as Minister of Energy and Mines from 1980-1982.

From 1982-1992 he was managing director of the investment banking firm First Boston Corporation and chairman of First Boston International. Between 1992-2001, he managed a series of US-based investment funds, and served on several multinational, US, and Peruvian corporate boards.

When President Alejandro Toledo selected Kuczynski for Minister of Economy and Finance in July 2001, he was president and CEO of the Latin American Enterprise Fund. Kuczynski remained Minister of Economy and Finance until July 2002, when he was replaced in a general Cabinet shakeup. PPK returned to the Finance Ministry in February 2004 and remained in that position. He served as President of the Council of Ministers under President Toledo. During PPK management at the head of those two ministries Peruvian economy strengthened and grew between 5% and 8% annually.

PPK worked for the private sector in various parts of the world for over 25 years and is an active university lecturer, promoter of development and the fight against poverty, which is also recognized as a business and technical leader. It is an assiduous participant in forums both in Peru and abroad on these issues. He worked on Agualimpia NGOs, non-profit organization designed to support governments in rural areas. The aim of this institution is to organize and finance projects of water and wastewater for the poorest communities in Peru. Clean Water runs dozens of projects in the regions of Ancash, Arequipa and La Libertad, among others.

Kuczynski began to think seriously about running for president after creating Agua Limpia, in 2007 to deliver drinking water to impoverished areas of Peru. There he saw up close the lack of managerial skills in Peru’s public sector and decided he could make a difference.

He remained politically independent for most of his career. In 2010, Kuczynski announced his candidacy for president in the 2011 elections, as head of the Alliance for Great Change coalition, which consisted of the Popular Christian Party, Peruvian Humanist Party, National Restoration and Alliance for Progress parties. Despite leading the field of the three centrist candidates, he garnered only 19% of the vote, putting him in third place and disqualifying him from the ensuing run-off election between Ollanta Humala and Keiko Fujimori. He threw his support behind Keiko Fujimori to prevent the election of Ollanta Humala, an ally of socialist Venezuela who once led an army uprising. But after being elected, Humala governed with the same pro-business framework of his predecessors.

Kuczynski is married to a US citizen. He speaks excellent English. He has four children, one of whom is the acclaimed New York Times columnist, Alex Kuczynski. He was criticized for having an American passport, and under pressure renounced his US citizenship in 2015. His first wife was the daughter of a US Congressman and his current spouse, Nancy Lange, is a relative of Hollywood actress Jessica Lange.

Peru's Congress voted overwhelmingly 15 December 2017 to start President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski's impeachment process over allegations that he received bribes from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht. The opposition-controlled Peruvian Congress voted Friday 93-17 in support of the proposal to debate President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski's impeachment on December 21. Kuczynski has denied any wrongdoing. Reportedly Odebrecht paid the president 5 million dollars (4.25 million euros) in consulting fees between 2004 and 2013. Kuczynski was economy minister and head of then-president Alejandro Toledo's cabinet during that period.

Kuczynski was the third Peruvian president to become embroiled in the corruption scandal involving Odebrecht. Former President Ollanta Humala is in detention and Toledo could be extradited from the US over the Odebrecht affair. Politicians in Ecuador, Mexico, Panama and Venezuela have also been hit hard by the scandal. Odebrecht has admitted to paying millions of dollars in bribes to officials in several Latin American countries to secure lucrative and inflated public works contracts. It has said it paid $20 million in kickbacks to Toledo, whom Peru wants extradited from the United States to face charges. Another former Peruvian president, Ollanta Humala, is in jail in Peru, also on suspicion of having illicitly received millions from Odebrecht in campaign funds. The Brazilian company agreed over the past year to pay $2.6 billion in fines to the Brazilian, Swiss and US governments for its corrupt practices.

Peru's Congress fell eight votes short on 21 December 2017 of impeaching President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski over graft allegations linked to a Brazilian construction giant. The motion received 79 votes in favor, 19 against and 21 abstentions. The motion failed by eight votes, as at least 87 votes were required to approve an impeachment. The motion had been put to the lawmakers after a 14-hour session that started with a two-hour appearance by Kuczynski to defend his position. He had called the move against him a "coup" and an "attack" on democracy. Analysts had predicted that Kuczynski would be impeached, especially as 93 lawmakers had voted for the impeachment motion to be put to Congress.

Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski opened his seasonal address to the nation on 25 December 2017 seeking sympathy following the popular backlash caused by his pardoning of jailed dictator Alberto Fujimori. "Perhaps this is the hardest decision of my life," Kuczynski said, before asking Peruvians to "turn the page."

Some had anticipated the pardon, describing it as part of a pact between PPK, the dictator's daughter Kenji Fujimori, and ten other "fujimorista" legislators who abstained in the congressional vote to impeach Kuczynski. The abstentions secured the president's victory against impeachment after he was convicted for corruption involving Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.

Three days after the vote, Kuczynski, who had previously said he would not pardon Fujimori, reversed his decision and justified it on humanitarian grounds, citing Fujimori's deteriorating health. Kuczynski reportedly agreed to pardon former Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori, accused of human rights violations, in exchange of Kenji's faction abstaining from voting at a congress session that would've impeached him.

Keiko Fujimori released videos showing her brother Kenji negotiating with a Popular Force representative on behalf of Kuczynski in exchange of public works in their districts. The new scandal proved to be the straw that broke the camel's back, and Kuczynski decided to resign instead of facing an almost certain impeachment process.

Kuczynski, a former Wall Street banker, resigned 21 March 2018 after accumulating multiple accusations of corruption. Kuczynski, however, failed to accept his responsibility in the matter, saying that he was resigning because of the general “ungovernability” atmosphere which didn't allow him to continue.

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Page last modified: 04-01-2020 18:23:25 ZULU