Colombia’s Former Interior Minister who on Wednesday announced to run for the Senate saw is facing ongoing accusations he had ties to the now-defunct Cali cartel.
Radio station La FM on Wednesday revealed prosecution testimonies by William Rodriguez, son and nephew of Cali Cartel kingpins Miguel and Gilberto Rodriguez, in which the drug lord’s son testified he had met the then-minister to discuss the cartel’s financing of the 1994 campaign of successful presidential candidate Ernesto Samper.
Rodriguez claimed that the Cali Cartel had supplied the campaign with $10 million. He also told prosecutors of three meetings with Serpa, the first of which reportedly took place with disgraced politician Fernando Botero, son of the Colombian artist of the same name. The second meeting allegedly took place in the apartment of a deputy minister, with the last one allegedly taking place in Serpa’s own residence.
The scandal following the discovery of drug money in Samper’s campaign, popularly referred to as Process 8000, was investigated by the prosecutor general’s office throughout the 1990s. While the political scandal threatened to swamp the then-President Samper, it was Defense Minister Botero who took the brunt of the investigation and was eventually incarcerated. Serpa had consistently defended Samper throughout the case.
Serpa denied on Wednesday that he had ever met with the Cali Cartel to further the presidential campaign of Ernesto Samper.
The politician’s supporters additionally took to twitter to voice their outrage at the allegations, claiming that the timing of the revelations is nothing but an attempt to de-rail his campaign for election as senator.
.@HoracioSerpa tiene razón. Mucha “coincidencia” que justo hoy que se lanza al senado, el Sr. Rodríguez salió con “revelaciones” del 8mil.
— Diana Montoya (@dianaeme) August 14, 2013
— andresvillamizar (@afvillamizar) August 14, 2013
Rodriguez had initially made the claims in an interview with Colombian radio station La FM back in May. That discussion largely focused on the financial backing of the successful campaign of Ernesto Samper but he has since reiterated the importance of Serpa’s role in the meetings and organization, something which the politician firmly denies.
Serpa told assembled media that “I have not met with anyone from the Cali Cartel (…) it is simply ridiculous to once again discuss this topic when it had previously been discussed – it is simply a revival of old news.”
Like his supporters, Serpa noted that it was a “strange coincidence” that Rodriguez had revived this information on the day he announced the start of his election campaign.
While he denounced any claim that linked him to the Cali Cartel, Serpa did admit that he had met with allies of the Rodriguez family in his capacity as Minister of the Interior, but that these meetings were to discuss “prison issues” of the then-jailed Rodriguez brothers.