President Alvaro Uribe Thursday ordered the Ministry or Agriculture to nullify subsidies granted to rich families in the north of Colombia that caused controversy over the possibly involved corruption.
Larg parts of a federal agricultural subsidy, meant to “promote productivity and competition and reduce inequality” in Colombia’s agriculture ended up in the pockets of beauty queens, families of politicians and wealthy families in the northern Magdalena department.
The scandal was an embarrasment for the national government and especially former Agriculture Minister and current presidential candidate Andres Felipe Arias, under whose supervision the subsidies were granted.
The Ministry was accused of having used the subsidies to pay off received support for the government’s attempts to see the re-election of Uribe. Arias, also called Uribito, is one of the President’s most loyal political followers and, despite his own candidacy, a promoter of the re-elecion of his former boss.
Uribe stressed the importance of the agricultural subsidies and, despite the scandal, called it one of the government’s greatest achievements to stimulate the agricultural sector. According to the president, the families who benefited from the subsidy conspired to make sure to receive as much subsidy as possible.
Until the validity of a project that was granted subsidies is checked, the Minstry of Agriculture is not allowed to transfer any money to the specific project, the President said.