Opinion: congressmen going large

By Augusto Alvarez Rodrich, Editor in Chief of Peru.21

The release of photos of two congressmen during a celebration while on an official visit to
Brazil presents no problems to a newspaper editor. The photos were not manipulated, and they were taken in a public place.

 For that reason it is ridiculous that Congress “categorically reject” their publication in the magazine Caretas on the grounds that it is supposedly an attempt to prejudice the institution’s image.

But far more absurd is the unfounded panic that comes across from the over-the-top reaction of the congressmen involved and of those who will have lost sleep over it last night.

Several of them asked whether this is the conduct to be expected of a congressman. There’s no need to exaggerate. Basically, these photos show the two congressmen going large at a social event at a time that doesn’t coincide with the sessions they were attending.

If a delegation of Canadian congressmen came to Lima and went to a tourist nightspot for some live Andean music on a free night, and if they ended up dancing “el Alcatraz” [a traditional afro-peruvian dance], we would end up with similar photos – or perhaps more entertaining ones. And that’s not to mention the kind of shots you could take at a get-together for the Day of the Journalist.

There’s no way you can compare this situation with, say, the scandal that came to light some time ago when some Ecuadorian elected officials ended up being arrested in a Lima hotel.

The problem is that Peruvian congressmen live their lives with a tremendous guilt complex that make them seem like scared puppies with their tails between their legs.

And the fact that the Ethics Commission has opened an investigation is even more laughable. It should be working on its pending cases, which is currently impossible with the prevailing climate in Congress.

And politicians should not be looking for pretexts to hide the real scandals behind, like the horrific thefts that occur in state purchases or the serious allegations against ex prison chief Benedicto Jiménez.

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