While Colombia’s Supreme Court is investigating at least 11 governors for corruption with coronavirus emergency funds, at least nine public hospitals fell into the hands of friends and allies of politicians.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the politicians appointed friends and political allies in what authorities last year called part of a structural healthcare racket that has cost the Colombians $256 million (COP1 trillion).
Giving a regional hospital to a political group is a reward for campaign financing. This is the vicious circle that occurs in Colombia, where the financiers recover their investment through contracting.
Inspector General Fernando Carrillo
Gifts worth $368 million
According to political website La Silla Vacia, the combined annual budget of the hospitals granted to the politicians’ friends is $368 million (COP1.4 trillion).
The governors and congressmen made the controversial appointments in the middle of ongoing corruption investigations carried out in a joint effort by the prosecution, the Inspector General’s Office and the Comptroller general’s Office to curb corruption during the public health emergency.
The politicians and their buddies
Benefactor: Suspended Choco Governor Ariel Palacios (Liberal Party)
Beneficiary: Family friend Julia Yadira Halaby
Hospital: San Francisco de Asís in Quibdo
Benefactor: Cesar Governor Luis Alberto Monsalvo (Radical Change)
Beneficiary: Gnecco crime family friend Jackeline Henríquez
Hospital: Rosario Pumarejo de López in Valledupar
Benefactor: Nariño Governor Jhon Rojas (U Party)
Beneficiary: Congressman Gilberto Betancourt confidant Nilsen Arley Alvear
Hospital: Universitario Departamental de Nariño in Pasto
Benefactor: Congressman Alejandro Carlos Chacon (Liberal Party)
Beneficiaries: Political allies Miguel Tonino Botta and Nelly Santafe
Hospital: Erasmo Meoz in Cucuta
Experience not required
The majority of the recently appointed hospital directors who will be dealing with the country’s largest healthcare emergency arguably in history have no experience in managing hospitals.
The new hospital directors will have to work closely with private health intermediaries, who were named as the main offender in the healthcare corruption racket, to provide the best care possible during the emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic.