Peru’s deputy agriculture minister has been sacked after footage was shown on television of her sunbathing during working hours while the north and center of the country battled torrential rainfall. The weather conditions have caused flooding and landslides and have left at least 90 people dead since January.
Eufrosina Santa María was seen on Sunday evening’s edition of news program Panorama at a private sports club in the capital, Lima, with her partner, who is also her official photographer. At the same time, many of her colleagues in the government were visiting areas of the country affected by the flooding.
Santa María was also seen riding a bicycle and in-line skating near her home with her partner during office hours.
Since December, Peru has been dealing with natural disasters caused by the El Niño weather phenomenon brought about by the warming of the Pacific Ocean, which produces intense rain. The conditions have caused flooding and landslides along the northern and central coastline of the South American country. So far at least 90 people have lost their lives, with some 20 missing and 347 injured. More than 740,000 people have been affected.
“Santa María’s exit is a response to her lack of ethics regarding the responsibility she was tasked with,” said the Agriculture Ministry in a statement, adding: “She did not behave as a high-level public functionary should.”
“We don’t work eight or even 14 hours,” Santa María told the daily Correo, pointing out that government members have no specified schedule. “If you have a moment when things are light, you take some time for yourself. Others in authority were having their nails done or their hair. I was exercising,” she claimed.
English version by Nick Lyne.