The director of Proexport, the organization in charge of the promotion of Colombian exports and tourism, received grants from a controversial government scheme intended to give money to poor farmers, which caused a scandal for instead subsidizing politically powerful families.
According to Canal Caracol, members of Maria Claudia Lacoutre’s family are on the board of directors of several companies that received a total of $2.2 million in subsidies from the AIS fund. Lacoutre herself was a member of the board of one of these companies until December 2009 after the scandal about the subsidies broke, and she was still working under President Alvaro Uribe as director of the Colombia is Passion campaign.
The scheme, administered by then-Agriculture Minister Andres Felipe Arias, is controversial because many of the recipients of the subsidies were financial supporters of a referendum that unsuccessfully promoted the 2010 re-election of Arias and Lacoutre’s boss, former President Alvaro Uribe. Arias and his successor are being investigated by both the prosecutor general and inspector general to see if there was corruption in the granting of subsidies.
Current Agriculture Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo told Caracol he is not familiar with the case of Lacoutre and said that he doesn’t know whether “there are now public officials who then were applicants” for the AIS subsidy.
Opposition Senator Jorge Enrique Robledo told Caracol he will ask for the resignation of the Proexport director.
Lacoutre refused to comment.