Congressmen misbehave on an official visit to Brazil

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Zero for conduct. The first vice president of the Peruvian Congress, José Vega, and the president of the parliamentary APRA party group Javier Velásquez Quesquén have appeared in compromising photos, celebrating with samba dancers in night club while on an official visit to Brazil.

As revealed in the latest edition of the magazine Caretas, it took place during a journey made by an official congressional delegation to the XXII Ordinary Assembly of the Latin-American Parliament, which was held in Sao Paolo on the 8th and 9th of December last year.

The delegation was led by Vega and included parliamentarians Javier Velásquez Quesquén (APRA), Martha Moyano (GPF), Carlos Torres Caro (PD) and Mario Peña (APC).

In response to the release of the photographs Mercedes Cabanillas, the senior member of Congress, said that the sanctions imposed will be a response to a “very brief” enquiry to be held in congress.

“For me what has happened is very painful, very sad, and frustrating. The Ethics Commission should perform a very brief investigation into the facts of the case, and there will be sanctions because these congressmen were on an official mission,” she said to CPN Radio.

Cabanillas stated that travel expenses will not be paid for the “personal” activities engaged in by the congressmen while in Brazil. “There is a rendering of accounts, we do not pay traveling expenses a priori, we have a policy of reimbursement,” she maintained.

It is worth pointing out that, in accordance with the internal ruling of Congress, possible sanctions include public and private admonitions and go up to a suspension of legislative activities for a maximum of 120 days.

Statement by the accused. Congressman Javier Velásquez Quesquén offered a public apology to the country, speaking to a radio station. He argued that he only participated in an “artistic” event, and that he drank no alcohol – not a story that chimes with the photos.

He maintained that the images had been taken out of context, and accused congressman Carlos Torres Caro of not having had the courage to admit that it was he who took the photographs.

Minutes later Torres Caro admitted that he was indeed the mystery photographer. “I took the pictures because I was there as well, but none of my actions were intended to damage anyone’s reputation,” he stated.

For his part, congressman José Vega stated that the photos were staged and that he is the victim of a UPP smear campaign.

Later, at a session of Congress, he offered apologies, admitted to feeling ashamed and showed his intention to cooperate with the congressional investigation. “I place myself at their disposition in this issue to preserve the image of Congress,” he added.

UPDATE

Vega has temporarily stepped down as first vice president of congress. Velásquez has denied misuse of public funds. The Congressional Ethics Committee has started a summary investigation on the counts of misuse of public travel funds and conduct unbecoming.

2 Responses

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