Peru president Dina Boluarte under pressure amid ‘Rolexgate’ scandal

Peru’s first female president, Dina Boluarte, is embroiled in a scandal over her alleged possession of a collection of Rolex watches and luxury jewellery that has put her at the centre of a corruption investigation, The Guardian reports.

The unpopular leader shook up her cabinet on Monday, swearing in six new ministers, after a rash of resignations following reports that she owned jewellery worth £400,000 ($502,700) despite earning a monthly presidential salary of around $3,320.

The “Rolexgate” scandal continues to engulf Boluarte’s government days after police rammed open the front door of her residence in Lima on Friday in search of the watches – the first time in Peru’s history that the police have forcibly entered the home of a sitting president.

After launching an investigation last month, prosecutors ordered the raid after Boluarte said she was too busy to attend a hearing last week. She had failed to declare the origin of three watches from the high-end brand, including one worth £11,150, as well as other items such as a £43,000 Cartier bracelet.

Boluarte claimed on Saturday she was the victim of a plot and, in a televised address flanked by ministers, denied she was “corrupt or a thief”.

The scandal began when La Encerrona, a popular Peruvian news podcast, analysed 10,000 images from the presidential Flickr account, revealing Boluarte’s undisclosed collection of luxury watches and jewellery.

Boluarte is far from being the first Peruvian president to be accused of corruption but the allegations have done nothing to improve the reputation of a leader accused of presiding over the killings of nearly 50 people by security forces during widespread protests over the ousting of her predecessor Pedro Castillo in 2022, according to The Guardian.

Boluarte, 61, a mid-level civil servant before she became Castillo’s running mate, claimed that the watches and other jewellery were the fruit of a lifetime of work. But such claims were upended during the raid on her home when police discovered a guarantee for one of the luxury watches dated July 2023.

“This is not a surprise for Peruvians,” said Alvaro Henzler, president of Transparencia Perú, an anti-corruption NGO. “We don’t know if she is corrupt, or not. But we know she is not telling the truth.”

“Today, we are at the lowest point of approval for the president and congress in the last 30 years,” he said, which he called a sign of the “slow death of democracy”.