Government agents raid Peruvian President Boluarte’s residence in luxury watch investigation

Police and prosecutors stand outside President Dina Boluarte's house during a raid aimed at seizing Rolex watches as part of a preliminary investigation into alleged illicit enrichment in Lima, Peru, Saturday, March 30, 2024. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

Police and prosecutors stand outside President Dina Boluarte’s house during a raid aimed at seizing Rolex watches as part of a preliminary investigation into alleged illicit enrichment in Lima, Peru, Saturday, March 30, 2024. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

Televised images swept Peru late Friday of government agents from an investigative team breaking into the president’s residence with a sledgehammer in a raid authorized by the judiciary at the request of the attorney general’s office.

Dina Boluarte is being preliminarily investigated for possessing an undisclosed collection of luxury watches since she came to power in July 2021 as vice president and Social Inclusion minister, and then as president in December 2022.

Initially, she claimed ownership of at least one Rolex as a long-held possession acquired through “personal gains” since the age of 18, urging the media not to delve into personal matters.

Earlier in the week, Attorney General Juan Villena criticized Boluarte’s request to delay her appearance before the court for two weeks, emphasizing her obligation to cooperate with the investigation.

Political turmoil is nothing new in Peru, which has seen six presidents in the last five years. But many see Boluarte’s recent statements as contradicting her earlier pledge to speak truthfully to prosecutors, exacerbating a political crisis stemming from her unexplained ownership of Rolex watches.

The Attorney General emphasized Boluarte’s obligation to promptly produce the three Rolex watches for investigation, cautioning against their disposal or destruction.

Boluarte, a 61-year-old lawyer, ascended from a modest district official to vice president under President Pedro Castillo in July 2021, subsequently assuming the presidency in December 2022 following Castillo’s impeachment after he attempted to dissolve congress and rule by decree.

At least 49 people were killed in the protests that followed.

Critics accuse Boluarte’s government of taking an increasingly authoritarian bent as it staves off demands for early elections and works with members of congress on laws that threaten to undermine the independence of Peru’s judicial system.

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