Colombia’s Minister of Agriculture, Andres Fernandez, refused to resign on Tuesday amid a growing corruption scandal concerning subsidies paid by his Ministry to politically and economically powerful families.
The Minister was called to congress to face a censorship motion that was supported by the opposition to the government of President Alvaro Uribe. The opposition are using the ongoing Agro Ingreso Seguro (AIS) subsidies scandal to combat and undermine the strength of the Uribe government in the lead up to the Presidential elections in March 2010.
“We will not give up and flee with our tail between our legs,” announced Fernandez before entering the Senate, where the debate will unfold against him for his involvement in allegedly distributing subsidies to wealthy Colombian families instead of directing them to poor farmers where they were due to go.
According to Fernandez, he will go before congress to “defend the institutions of the government,” and he insisted that at no point did he attempt to violate the law with the AIS Program, reported newspaper El Espectador on Tuesday.
The Minister further stated that the government intends to find alternative solutions towards improving the subsidy policy for the Colombian countryside.
Fernandez concluded be declaring that the government “will not abandon the program, we intend now to strengthen it.”