A spokesperson for opposition Senator-elect Claudia Lopez, said that despite confirmed threats against the politician reported by national security forces, those assumed responsible are not being apprehended due in part to links to President Juan Manuel Santos‘ vice presidential pick.
Lopez’s spokesperson, Rodrigo Hurtado, emphasized to Colombia Reports that in the wake of the National Protection Unit’s (UNP) Saturday warning of an “extreme risk” of an attempt on the Green Alliance (Alianza Verde -AV) politician’s life, there are politicians such as vice presidential candidate German Vargas who are shielding those accused responsible.
Hurtado additionally claimed that local police are not taking action despite knowing where the perpetrators are and there are irregularities within the prosecution stalling any investigations.
Both the outspoken politician and the UNP have confirmed to media that the threats have come from Juan Francisco Gomez, the jailed former governor of Colombia’s northern-most state of La Guajira, and fugitive drug lord Marcos de Jesus Figueroa, a.k.a. “Marquitos.”
However nothing has been done to hold these men responsible, said Hurtado.
Failure to apprehend suspect
“The police of La Guajira are not doing anything to capture ‘Marquitos’ Figueroa, who is the one that is giving the order and offering $100,000 to kill her,” said Hurtado in place of Lopez, who was unable to comment due to the “complicated nature” of the situation.
“The police know where he is but they don’t want to go to apprehend him,” he asserted.
Hurtado explained that while Lopez had been campaigning in La Guajira for Green Alliance presidential candidate Enrique Penalosa just a week ago, she spoke with the local police, who “did not know anything.”
Lopez’s problems with Figueroa and Gomez began when in 2011, the then journalist published a series of stories with fellow investigative reporters linking the former governor to the gang leader.
Last October, the investigative journalist-turned politician was forced to flee Colombia for a period of time, due to death threats, she claimed, from the same two men.
“We had to take a much larger security team than what we normally have [to La Guajira],” said Hurtado of their most recent visit, acknowledging their past history with Figueroa and Gomez.
Santos’ running mate is ‘allied’ with criminals
One of the reasons for the authorities’ alleged inaction is because Santos running mate, senior politician German Vargas, is “allied” with Gomez’ and other politicians linked to criminals.
“Mr. Vargas appears in photos embracing Kiko Gomez and they support each other through [financial corruption] to their candidates in La Guajira,” claimed Hurtado.
Claudia Lopez posted a photo to Twitter of Santos, Vargas and former governor Gomez saying, that because of the “complicit nature” of the government and the police regarding those that threaten her, “no security team is worth anything.”
Mientras haya complicidad del gobierno y la Policía con los que nos amenazan no hay esquema de seguridad que valga pic.twitter.com/1CwOdSJcTd
— Claudia López (@CLOPEZanalista) April 26, 2014
“Protection is not [simply] numbers of bodyguards, protection would be that the government catch these people and make them prisoners and additionally break the links between the authorities and these types — starting with the candidate to the vice presidency, Vargas, and the same president [who is] financed through [corrupt financial] politics,” said Hurtado.
“If the president and the vice president continue being allied with these people, then it is is very difficult,” he concluded, affirming that this has been the senator-elect’s clear public position for some time.
Judicial irregularities stall investigations and prosecutions
Lopez’ spokesperson also highlighted the judicial irregularities impeding the prosecution of either Figueroa or Gomez.
“Last week, the Prosecutor General of the Nation relieved prosecutor Martha Lucia Zamora [from her post]. [Zamora] was driving the investigation against Kiko Gomez and Marquitos Figueroa,” Hurtado explained.
“[Zamora] was the only woman that was doing something about [Gomez and Figueroa], and [the prosecutor general] took her out…Obviously that was going to hold back the investigation…changing the prosecutor in the middle of the process,” the spokesperson concluded.
Lopez has said — and Hurtado reiterated — that she is not going to leave the country this time because “she has now chosen this life and that the authorities have to respond for her security and her life.”
Santos said via Twitter Monday that he has ordered the police to reinforce security for Lopez.
Di instrucciones a la @PoliciaColombia para reforzar seguridad senadora electa Claudia López y agilizar investigaciones por amenazas
— Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) April 28, 2014
Hurtado noted that their security team “does not compare” with the security team of fellow Senator-elect Alvaro Uribe, whose own security will be cut in half shortly according to a report by Semana magazine.
Though Hurtado ceded that the Green Alliance team will yield to the UNP, who are most familiar with these issues.
- Interview with Rodrigo Hurtado