Colombia’s former Agriculture Minister Andres Felipe Arias on Monday accused British magazine The Economist of deviating from the truth and damaging his “honor, prestige and reputation.”
In mid-2009, Arias was implicated in a scandal over the misuse of funds from Agro Ingreso Seguro subsidies, which were meant to help the rural poor but instead went to rich Colombian families.
An article in The Economist, “The Dark Side,” published November 4, stated that “just as Andres Felipe Arias, a former agriculture minister, was heading to Italy as Colombia’s new ambassador, the government’s auditor accused him of diverting subsidies meant for small farmer to rich families. In return, the recipients reportedly gave money to Mr Arias’s bid for the Conservative Party‘s presidential nomination.”
The former minister criticized the weekly publication on the website of former President Alvaro Uribe, saying “I never went to Italy, simply because I never accepted the generous offer of President Santos to represent Colombia as ambassador to that country. It was a personal and family decision.”
The former minister explained in October that he turned down the chance to become Colombia’s ambassador to Italy “for the unity of political projects” and to demonstrate “the transparency of my public and private acts.”
The Inspector General’s Office in October confirmed charges against Arias. According to the former minister, these charges by the IG “have nothing to do with corruption in the diversion of agricultural subsidies.”