Skip to content

Crisis in the Colombian Government

Leer en Español

The government of socialist Gustavo Petro in Colombia is facing a crisis following the disclosure of the case of his son, Nicolás Petro, in which it is alleged that he was involved in presumed meetings in prisons where, according to some versions, they were posing as members of the Government to give benefits in exchange for information and money.

Allegations against the Colombian president’s son come from his inner circle. His ex-wife, Day Vásquez, gave an interview to Semana magazine in which she accused him of receiving payments from businessmen who thought they were contributing to Petro’s presidential campaign.  

“He received money from people who have had a bit of a dark past. From Mr. Samuel Santander Lopesierra (alias the Marlboro Man). He was extradited for 20 years (convicted of drug trafficking and conspiracy). Everyone knows that and now he is running for mayor of Maicao (La Guajira), if I am not mistaken,” said Vásquez during the conversation.

“Nicolás received money from that man, more than 600 million for his father’s campaign. That never legally reached the campaign because he kept that money, and so on. A gentleman from Cartagena, Turco Hilsaca, I think is his name; he also received him in my apartment”, he added.

Petro’s crisis

Inquiries and comments have not only been made within his personal circle. This Friday, Colombia’s High Commissioner for Peace, Danilo Rueda, said that a prisoner paid 120 million pesos (about 25,000 dollars) to benefit from Total Peace, the flagship program of Gustavo Petro’s government.

“On the other hand, Caracol Radio also reported today that Petro’s brother, Juan Fernando, allegedly met with several armed people in a restaurant in Medellin before last year’s second round elections,” EFE reported.

Also last Friday, the Colombian Attorney General’s Office announced that it began investigating the accusations against President Petro’s son.

“A group of prosecutors, investigators and experts went to Barranquilla (capital of the Caribbean department of Atlántico) and have already begun the first proceedings with the complainant, Day Vásquez, who has publicly provided information on the issue,” the agency said in a statement obtained by EFE.

Meanwhile, Colombia’s Minister of the Interior, Alfonso Prada, yesterday disassociated himself from the alleged corruption crimes in which Petro’s son is involved. He claimed that he is unaware of the practices.

He stressed during a press conference that each official must clarify their actions in this scandal. “Last year I had two meetings with him (Nicolás Petro Burgos), he never gave me a resume for me to name a person, we have never talked about quotas of anything because in my language the word ‘quotas’ does not exist in the Ministry,” said Prada.

Likewise, it was learned that the National Electoral Council (CNE) opened last Tuesday a preliminary investigation against Petro’s presidential campaign for alleged irregularities in its financing.

“It was decided to do so based on the anonymous complaint filed for alleged irregularities in the financing and reporting of income and expenses of the first and second round of the presidential election campaign,” the agency said.

But the political crisis is not only about the scandal with his son. The socialist also faces a ministerial crisis, as he asked for the resignation of three of them, one of them, the former Minister of Education, Alejandro Gaviria, for his constant criticism of the health reform. This reform has caused controversy in the country because, according to its critics, it will jeopardize the sustainability of a system that, in spite of its numerous flaws, works.  

“On the other hand, on Sunday [February 26] Cambio magazine also published a letter in which Gaviria; the ministers of Finance, José Antonio Ocampo, and Agriculture, Cecilia López, and the director of the National Planning Department (DNP), Jorge Iván González, question the fiscal capacity of the State to assume the costs of the ambitious health reform.”

The traditional parties that support the government legislatively have also taken a stand against Petro’s reforms. Conservatives, liberals and leaders of the Partido de la U are creating an alternative to Petro’s proposal.

Williams Perdomo es periodista y escritor, especializado en las fuentes Política y Cultura.