As local elections draw closer, Bogota Mayor Samuel Moreno finds himself politically isolated amid a growing scandal over the allegedly fraudulent granting of public works contracts.
Prominent Polo Democratico member Gustavo Petro says that the Bogota mayor, who is a member of the same socialist party, must be investigated by judicial and financial authorities for the granting of public works contracts to the controversial Nule Group. The company has outstanding contracts with both the Bogota and national government for more than $550 million.
Miguel Nule, one of the brothers leading the family company, admitted to Caracol Radio that the Nule Group paid a 6% commission to the Bogota mayor and a 2% commission to the city’s comptroller for every contract that was granted to his company. The transport minister in the last administration of former President Alvaro Uribe also received money from the construction company, the businessman said. “The Bogota mayor and the former minister of transport are either corrupt or inept,” said Nule.
The increasing criticism of the unpopular mayor forced the Liberal Party to stress it has nothing to do with the Moreno. “We share no responsibility with this government. If he wanted persons from Liberal ranks in his government he did so on personal account, but never committed to the party or the Liberal directive,” party leader Rafael Pardo said Thursday. The Liberal Party is a prominent member of the Bogota government coalition.
The Partido de La U, also a member of the Bogota government coalition, called on its council members to join the opposition. The councilors and party leader Juan Lozano met Thursday afternoon to discuss leaving the coalition.
The approval rating of Moreno, who has been criticized for the delay in public works and an increase in crime, plummeted to 25% after less than three years in office. Elections in Bogota and other Colombian cities will be held in 2011.