Colombia’s Congress hadn’t even begun investigating evidence of President Ivan Duque’s ties to drug traffickers when local media revealed the brother of his vice-president is a convicted narco.
News website La Nueva Prensa revealed on Tuesday that Vice-President Marta Lucia Ramirez and her husband paid USD$150,000 to bail out her brother in 1997 after Miami cops caught him receiving heroin from drug mules.
Ramirez’ brother Bernardo was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison in February 1998, half a year before the politician was appointed Foreign Trade Minister and her political patron, former President Andres Pastrana, began negotiating counternarcotics strategy “Plan Colombia” with the administration of US President Bill Clinton.
The revelation came weeks after transnational crime website InSight Crime revealed the VP and her husband, Alvaro Rincon, were in business with “Memo Fantasma,” who trafficked cocaine for the Medellin Cartel and the AUC paramilitary group.
While opposition Senator Gustavo Petro and other Colombians demanded the resignation of Ramirez on Twitter, Duque claimed the disgraced VP was a “dignified and courageous woman” and the victim of a “tragedy.”
The president rejected the “smear” and highlighted the top positions Ramirez had been granted by Duque’s political patron and another former Medellin Cartel associate, former President Alvaro Uribe.
The VP also called her brother’s drug trafficking activities a “tragedy” and said she would “continue to serve the country.”
Twitter users were quick to point out that Ramirez’ 2018 campaign slogan that “there are no good and bad drug traffickers, they are all are bad and must be rejected,” apparently doesn’t hold when they are family, a member of the ruling party or business partners.
The VP’s latest association with drug trafficking came only hours after her husband spoke out publicly for the first time about his ties to Memo Fantasma, and a day after the policemen who stumbled on Duque’s ties to the drug trafficking organization of Marquitos Figueroa were jailed.