The now-defunct Cali Cartel donated $10 million to the successful 1994 presidential campaign of ex-President Ernesto Samper, the son of a cartel founder told prosecutors.
Colombian radio station La FM was given a testimony by William Rodriguez, respectively the son and nephew of Cali Cartel founders Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela and Gilberto Rodríguez. The testimony was given before Colombian prosecutors and reopens the wounds of the “8,000 process” that resulted in the conviction of several Samper aides who had been implicated in the influx of drug money in the presidential campaign.
According to the radio station, the “heir” of the cartel did not just confirm what had been established in the “8000 files” case, but also said he had met with prominent Liberal Party politicians Horacio Serpa and Fernando Botero, the son of the painter and sculptor of the same name.
“Money was given to the Ernesto Samper campaign. It was a considerable amount, it was $10 million,” La FM quoted Rodriguez as saying.
The former cartel executive said he had personally met with Samper ally Fernando Botero to discuss the financial contributions of his father’s cartel.Botero was named Defense Minister by Samper until he had to resign and subsequently was convicted for allowing the drug money to be used to finance the Samper campaign.
Following Botero’s conviction, Rodriguez said he met again with the disgraced politician in an army facility where the former minister was held. Another senior Liberal Party politician, then-Interior Minister Horacio Serpa, was present at this meeting.
During the meeting, the drug lord and the politicians talked about extradition legislation found inconvenient by the Cartel’s main bosses, Rodriguez’ father and uncle.
Rodriguez reportedly said he met with Serpa on a second occasion at the International Business Center in Bogota.
In a response, Serpa — who had been investigated, but was absolved over the drug money contribution — denied to La FM having met with with any member of the Cali cartel that became the most dominant player in drug trafficking after the death of Pablo Escobar in 1993.
The drug money contribution to the presidential campaign and the subsequent scandal and court proceedings severely damaged the credibility of Samper, forced the United States to revoke the visa of the then-president of Colombia and generated a deterioration of the relationship between the two countries that jointly were trying to combat drug trafficking.
Drug trafficking organizations have long had strong ties to Colombian politics. Escobar — the wealthiest ever of all Colombian drug lords, even made it to Congress with strong ties to the Liberal Party. The late drug lord was close to former President Alvaro Uribe in the 1980s around the time Uribe was mayor of Medellin.
After the decay of both the Medellin and Cali cartels, paramilitary organization AUC took over most of Colombia’s drug trafficking activities which resulted in voter intimidation in the 2002 and 2006 elections. Dozens of lawmakers have been sent to jail for their ties to the paramilitary organization and also Uribe, who was elected in these election years, is under criminal investigation over his ties to the AUC.