With the sentence “we put more than $1 million in the campaigns of [President Juan Manuel] Santos and [opposition candidate Oscar Ivan] Zuluaga,” the former Colombia director of engineering firm Odebrecht said it all.
The testimony of Eleuberto Martorelli of the Brazilian firm was obtained by Blu Radio and left it crystal clear how both the president and the country’s hard-right Democratic Center party of former President Alvaro Uribe received illegal funding from the multinational.
According to Martorelli, his company financed pollster Paddington & Sancho BBDO to come up with poll results that would please the president who was running for a second consecutive period in 2014.
Santos’ former campaign manager had already admitted receiving $1 million dollar in the 2010 elections for campaign posters.
Martonelli also said his company paid $1.6 million dollars to Duda Mendoca, the Brazilian political strategist of Zuluaga, in 2014.
Earlier evidence the opposition campaign had been illegally financed had already forced Zuluaga to “postpone” his presidential aspirations for the 2018 elections.
The president, who is not allowed to run for a third term next year has already publicly apologized for the illegal funding of his campaigns, but has so far denied knowing about the illegal funding received by his campaign manager and long-time political ally.
In total, the US Justice Department said, Odebrecht spent approximately $11 million in bribes in Colombia to increase its chances of being granted major road infrastructure projects.
The scandal has been a major embarrassment for Colombia’s entire political establishment as the only political parties not benefiting from Odebrecht’s bribes are the relatively small opposition parties on the left.
None of these parties had much of a chance of winning the elections in either 2010 or 2014.