The director of newspaper El Colombiano became the center of controversy this week when she was revealed to be a recipient of a government agricultural subsidy.
The subsidies, given out over the past few years, often to politically aligned individuals with little involvement in agriculture, are under investigation by the Office of the Inspector General.
On Wednesday, Ana Mercedes Gomez Martinez, director of El Colombiano, responded to a Semana article that criticized her receipt of a subsidy. The article claimed that her duty of neutrality as a journalist should have prevented her from receiving the COP82 million subsidy, which she used to finance a greenhouse on a rural property of hers.
In her reply, Martinez claims that her application for the subsidy went through the same channels as everyone else’s and did not receive preferential treatment because of her position as director of a newspaper which many consider to be highly aligned with the Uribe administration.
“I did not cheat. I did not look for an influential person to grant me the subsidy. The amount of credit defined by Banco Agrario followed its parameters and took into account the size of the investment. For those that wonder if I will forego the loan and repay the money, tell them that I will not, because I acted within the framework of the law and ethics.”
She went on to claim that she will continue to fulfill her journalistic responsibilities of criticizing the president when necessary.
The purpose of the government subsidy, according to Martinez, was to help a family displaced by violence, and to ensure that they aren’t left homeless and unemployed.