Colombia’s Supreme Court is investigating accusations that congressmen received financial and political benefits in order to secure the 2014 reelection of President Juan Manuel Santos.
According to Ernesto Macias, the senator of opposition the Democratic Center party led by former president Alvaro Uribe, this investigation is long overdue as he first filed a complaint in December 2013 after learning of the bureaucratic misdemeanors that have allegedly been going on.
Macias reported that he received a USB in which there were the names of 160 senators who had been given roles within the current government in exchange for supporting Santos, according to Blu Radio.
Semana weekly newspaper reported that there are at least 250 lawmakers, ministers, ex ministers and lower officials involved in the Santos’ “marmalade” network. The Agrarian Bank and Ministry of Health are among the entities that are being investigated by the court.
Spreading “marmalade” is the term used in Colombia for such bureaucratic intervention within the government, as it refers to the practice of buying political support by handing out political favors or money.
According to Semana, among the politicians involved in the potential “marmalade” spreading is the current president of congress Luis Fernando Velasco, Minister of the Interior Juan Fernando Cristo and senators of the ‘national unity’ governing coalition that includes most of the major parties, including the Conservative Party, Liberal Party, U Party, and Radical Change.
Family members, friends and work colleagues who have been given roles within the State are being investigated to see whether they received such positions as a ploy to support the reelection campaign.
This is not the first time that such claims have been fired at president Santos by his opposition; in 2013, a candidate for Senate of the Democratic Center used the “spreading marmalade” expression to accuse Santos of “buttering up” congressmen to back him in his re-election bid in May and June 2014.
Following the reelection, Alvaro Uribe said that Colombia’s Congress to which he was elected was “illegitimate,” claiming the elections were marred by fraud. Few believed this denouncement, unlike the current one that is being investigated.
Paradoxically, two former ministers serving under Uribe were imprisoned last year for bribing congressmen to support a 2004 constitutional amendment that allowed the 2006 reelection of the former President.
Santos has since revoked this amendment in an attempt to “balance powers.”