While touring Chosica, a mountainous district east of Lima which faces a high risk of flooding and landslides due to El Niño weather conditions, Acuña promised $2,800 to a group of merchants to build a retainer wall to protect their informal market.
Acuña’s pledge was captured in video by the Panorama news program, who later confirmed that an Alliance for Progress representative delivered a check to the merchants the next day. Panorama also confirmed that Acuña gave $1,400 to a Piura man in a wheelchair to help with his medical expenses.
“If God gives to you, why not share?” Acuña can be heard saying in Chosica. “So I want to share what God gives me for a retaining wall with $3,000. Tomorrow a representative will come to deliver the money, and I’m helping 200 families to keep working.”
Peru’s electoral law explicitly forbids distributing cash and other tangible incentives to entice voters to vote for a specific candidate or party. Violating the law is punished with disqualification from the election.
Acuña is currently being investigated for vote buying in his 2011 bid to be reelected as Trujillo mayor. In a video which surfaced last year, Acuña allegedly promises monthly payments to 10,000 impoverished families in exchange for their votes. The video is what popularized his saying, “money like corn.”
After surging to a statistical tie for second with Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in December, Acuña’s campaign has been plagued by scandals including spousal abuse, impregnating a minor, campaign finance violations, plagiarism and piracy. In response to the accusations of plagiarism, Acuña found himself in a new scandal for an ad in which he compared himself to Martin Luther King, who is also accused of plagiarizing his doctoral dissertation.
While the plagiarism and piracy charges held the possibility of disqualifying Acuña pending JNE investigations, the newest scandal may be the surest case yet to remove the former governor of La Libertad from the ballot.
Acuña said in a speech that there is a movement in Lima to discredit him because he comes from outside the capital.
“In Lima they say, ‘How is a country boy going to be president? How will this man who does not even know how talk be president?’” Acuña said in the northern jungle state of San Martin. “What they are doing to me is bullying. We want to save this country.”
The latest polls show Acuña’s support fell by at least a third in the wake of his various scandals. Analysts believe his support, which comes largely from lower economic classes and rural regions, will migrate to frontrunner Keiko Fujimori in 2016 elections.
César Acuña: regalos e infracciones (Panorama)