Whether he admits or not, Colombia’s vice president German Vargas is illegally meddling in upcoming local elections to amplify the power for his party, according to news website La Silla Vacia.
Horacio Serpa and Roy Barreras, leaders of the Liberal Party and the U Party respectively, sent a letter on Tuesday to President Juan Manuel Santos asking him to stop the vice-president from illegally intervening in the local elections and warning him that Vargas is “advising from the public offices.”
Colombian electoral law prohibits sitting officials from meddling with any electoral process to prevent them from using public institutions for partisan politics.
Vargas denied the senators’ accusations, saying that Serpa and Barreras want to “attack” him during the pre-election period and stressed that he has kept the local elections and national government projects separate.
However, a freedom of information request filed by La Silla Vacia forced the Vice President’s Office to release records.
These records show that in the last six months the vice-president received visits from at least eight local candidates from Vargas’ Radical Change party who did not have anything to do with the vice president’s responsibilities.
Each of the meetings took place in the two months before the vice-president’s party gave official backing to the candidates. In the case of Dario Vasquez, mayoral candidate for the Meta province, the meeting with Vargas happened two days before Radical Change decided to back him in the elections.
Six of the candidates are important chess-pieces for the strategic regional growth of the party which will help Vargas’ hopes of becoming president in 2018. The other two are powerful regional magnates within Radical Change.
The only candidate that La Silla Vacia found who was not part of Cambio Radical was Geovanny Reyes Mur, the mayoral candidate for Alvaro Uribe‘s party, the Democratic Center, in Cachipay, Cundinamarca.
In his own defense the vice-president told La Silla Vacia that he received requests for meetings from hundreds of politicians and out of the few who he met with could not remember the purpose of the meetings.
However, he was confident enough to claim, “they are private meetings. And in no case were they about participation in any political event or in politics.”
Colombia’s mayoral elections will take place on 25 October.