Colombia’s chief prosecutor on Sunday called on former President Alvaro Uribe to provide evidence supporting his recent accusation that incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos received $2 million in drug money.
|Colombia’s 2014 elections|
The Prosecutor General’s Office announced Uribe had to present himself on Monday morning 8AM to surrender evidence and reaffirm under oath the accusations that drug money was used to compensate excessive spending during Santos’ 2010 election campaign.
Uribe accused Santos of having received the money through Juan Jose Rendon, until recently the president’s political strategist but currently in legal trouble for allegedly having received $12 million from leading Colombian drug lords.
The alleged money trail
In an interview with W Radio on Thursday, the former president challenged the Prosecutor General’s Office to investigate whether it was true that Rendon contributed $2 million to Santos’ electoral piggy bank and whether that money came from drug traffickers.
A number of Colombia’s top drug lords allegedly gave the $12 million to Rendon to persuade Santos to agree to a pact supposed to dismantle the country’s drug trade. The proposal was dealt with by top officials, but never materialized. A number of the drug lords involved in the proposal were later either arrested or surrendered to US Justice.
“The Prosecutor General’s Office should investigate if President Santos’ 2010 campaign, somewhere around 2011, paid bills with money that had been donated by J.J. Rendon and come from this issue regarding the drug money.”
On its website, the office said it had “opened an investigation to verify the veracity of the statements publicly made by the former Mister President of the Republic, Alvaro Uribe Velez.”
To support this investigation, Uribe, who is in the middle of an election campaign, was ordered to appear at the main prosecution office building in the capital Bogota “to, under oath, explain his accusation made on Thursday May 8, and show the documents or evidence he has to support his statements.”
‘Politicians and military involved in illegal spying’
“There are people within the security forces who are trying to blow up the peace process.”
Prosecutor General Eduardo Montealegre told newspaper El Tiempo on Sunday that Andres Sepulveda, the arrested member of the Zuluaga campaign team, received support from members of the military and politicians that seek to undermine and ongoing peace process with the country’s largest and oldest living rebel group, the FARC.
Montealegre’s office has obtained evidence that the Zuluaga campaign worker received classified information from within the military “or people close to it. There are people within the security forces who are trying to blow up the peace process,” said the top prosecutor.
Montealegre warned about the use of illegal means to obtain electoral gain in one of the strongest possible terms after affirming that Sepulveda was an “extreme right” political activist.
“Adolf Hitler came to power through democratic means, using elections to attack democracy, and using violent means and dirty war.”
According to the prosecutor general, Zuluaga’s campaign worker “is a neo-fascist to which the country needs to open its eyes.”
“Adolf Hitler came to power through democratic means, using elections to attack democracy, and using violent means and dirty war,” he said.
Uribe’s accusation, and the subsequent investigations and threats by the Prosecutor General, come at a time of great tensions only weeks before presidential elections in which Santos faces Uribe-endorsed Oscar Ivan Zuluaga and three others.
Revelations about alleged criminal activities by top members of either campaign team already cost the heads of Rendon and the campaign director of Zuluaga who is investigated for trying to provide classified information obtained through illegal wiretapping by another member of the campaign.
Supporters and political allies of Uribe and Zuluaga have said these charges are part of a smoke screen to divert attention from the Rendon incident.
Two weeks until first election round
As judicial authorities get involved in the campaign teams’ alleged criminal behavior, other candidates facing Santos and Zuluaga on May 25, have paradoxically lost terrain to the politicians embroiled in accusations over criminal activity.
According to most polls held over the past two weeks, Santos and Zuluaga will likely to have a face-off in a second round in June, forcing centrist candidate Enrique Peñalosa, socialist Clara Lopez and Conservative Marta Lucia Ramirez to leave the presidential race early.
- Comunicado de prensa 042 (Prosecutor General’s Office)
- ‘La institucionalidad y la democracia están en grave riesgo’: Fiscal (El Tiempo)