Latin American Herald Tribune
October 12, 2010

Peru’s President Struck Critic, Papers Say

LIMA – President Alan Garcia struck a man who insulted him last weekend during an official visit to a public hospital, Peruvian newspapers said Tuesday.

Diario 16, La Primera, Peru.21 and La Republica dailies cite testimonies from a number of anonymous witnesses who said that Garcia struck Richard Galvez Leon, identified as a volunteer for the social aid program Kurame.

The witnesses cited by the dailies agreed in saying that the man called Garcia “corrupt” as the president was leaving Regabliati Hospital, which enraged the president, who turned around and smacked Galvez in the face.

Diario 16 added that Garcia’s security guards then jumped on the man and continued beating him and even wanted to arrest him, but other people at the scene intervened.

When Garcia was questioned Monday about the matter, he denied that such an incident ever happened and would only say, “Don’t believe Diario 16.”

Nonetheless, the newspaper said Tuesday that the president later confirmed that a man had insulted him and that he responded: “Go to hell.”

Former Prime Minister Javier Velasquez told the daily La Republica that he had consulted “official sources” on the matter and they told him “this story is not true.”

“I can’t swear to it because I wasn’t there, but this is a fiction meant to discredit the head of state,” he said.

Other media outlets recalled that Garcia was in a violent incident in 2004 when he kicked Jesus Lora, a youth with health problems, during a protest march. EFE