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What can happen to Gustavo Petro now that his son claimed that illegal money entered his campaign?

What can happen to Gustavo Petro now that his son claimed that illegal money entered his campaign?

What can happen to Gustavo Petro now that his son claimed that illegal money entered his campaign?

Money from drug trafficking, many luxuries and revelations that deal a severe blow to the first leftist government of Colombia. Nicholas Petro Burgosthe eldest son of the president of the country, Gustavo Petrois at the center of a political scandal that has acquired an even greater dimension after the president’s son claimed that illegal money entered the electoral campaign that brought his father to power in 2022

LOOK: Nicolás Petro bought a mansion, an apartment and a Mercedes Benz in one year: everything the tax accusation says

Petro Burgos37 years old, was arrested on Saturday, July 29 in Barranquilla along with his ex-wife, Daysuris Vásquez, and later charged with the crimes of money laundering and illicit enrichment.

The case broke out in March, when Vásquez assured that Nicholas Petro he received illegal money for his father’s presidential campaign and used it for his own benefit.

The Attorney General’s Office exposed this week that the illegal increase in the assets of the president’s son would have reached $270,000 in 2022, the same year as the campaign in which his father won the head of state.

In defending the charges, the prosecution has questioned the assets of Nicolás Petro, clearly incompatible with his income as a regional deputy for Atlántico, a department in northern Colombia where complaints of vote buying are frequent at election time.

Nicholas Petro He earned 13 million pesos ($3,200) a month, but he spent as if he earned 200 million ($50,000). According to the prosecution, the money was used to buy a $408,000 mansion in Barranquillaa luxury $ 50,000 Mercedes Benz car and items in luxury stores such as Salvatore Ferragamo and Carolina Herrera.

Nicolás Petro, Daysuris Vásquez and Gustavo Petro.

Dirty money and a campaign under the magnifying glass

If the case had already embarrassed Gustavo Petrothe latest revelations about the alleged entry of illegal money into the presidential campaign have left him in the middle of a political earthquake that threatens to escalate.

On Thursday the 3rd, the prosecutor in the case, Mario Burgos, revealed that Nicholas Petro He affirmed that he paid part of the 400 million pesos (about USD 102,000) to the campaign that Samuel Santander Lopesierra, extradited to the United States for drug trafficking in 2003 and free since 2021, gave him last year.

The president’s eldest son also received money from a son of Alfonso “el turco” Hilsaca, a businessman accused in the past by the prosecution of financing paramilitary groups and planning homicides.

According to the prosecutor, Nicholas Petro he kept a portion “and another part” of the money “was invested in the presidential campaign.”

Although the president’s son initially rejected the accusations against him, upon learning that the prosecution had irrefutable evidence of his crimes, he decided to confess. Burgos had offered to accept responsibility for him to receive a reduction of 50% of the possible sentence.

In view of the agreement, Nicholas Petro You will be under house arrest. “It is not expected that he could obstruct justice, especially when he has waived his rights and has indicated that he is willing to provide all relevant evidence.”, explained the prosecutor.

Nicolás Petro and Day Vasquez at Tuesday's hearing at the Prosecutor's Office in Bogotá.  (Attorney General of Colombia)

Nicolás Petro and Day Vasquez at Tuesday’s hearing at the Prosecutor’s Office in Bogotá. (Attorney General of Colombia)

Nicholas he was instrumental in his father’s aspirations in the Caribbean coast region, historically reluctant to the left, but which catapulted Petro to the presidency in the 2022 elections.

Juliana Gil Gutiérrez, a political journalist for the newspaper “El Colombiano” and who is doing a master’s degree in International Affairs, points out that the new revelations and the collaboration between the prosecution and the president’s son change the case in a decisive way because they constitute the acceptance that Illegal money entered the campaign and that Nicolás Petro had been part of the network.

This revelation validates the journalistic investigations that spoke of alleged financing, but that had not yet been validated or detailed by a person who was in the campaign. Nicolás Petro was not only in the campaign, but he is also a deputy from the department of Atlántico and was the one who led his father’s campaign in this region”, he tells El Comercio.

This is going to be like a political and legal soap opera that is going to last several more months”, says, for his part, the senator for the Green Alliance Party Ariel Ávila, who believes that there will be more important revelations and will surely end in the departure of some officials. “The legal issue will last for another year, but now with a new edge: it is no longer just about Petro’s son, but the current president’s campaign”, he points out to this newspaper.

Complaint in Congress

In addition to criticism from the opposition and the political uproar, attention is focused on the impact that the case may have for the president, who will celebrate one year in power on August 7.

The most concrete action against the president has been given so far by the Investigation and Accusations Commission of the Colombian House of Representatives, which has already started an investigation against Gustavo Petro for the facts revealed by his son.

Gustavo Petro, President of Colombia.  (Reuters).

Gustavo Petro, President of Colombia. (Reuters).

A process is being carried out against the President of the Republic for the facts related to the statements of the citizen Daysuris Vásquez Castro months ago, this is in the preliminary investigation stage”, reported this Friday the 4th the president of the Investigation and Accusation Commission, Wadith Manzur, of the Conservative party.

The Investigation and Accusation Commission is the only one with legitimacy to study cases against an elected president and can submit, after the investigation of the case, his dismissal to the House of Representatives to be raised in the Senate.

This investigation was opened before Nicholas Petro and his ex-wife were arrested and charged. Therefore, according to the statement signed by Manzur, the three representatives investigating the case in the Chamber of Accusations will determine the incorporation of new means, facts or complaints.

In addition, there are ongoing investigations in the National Electoral Council (CNE), which is the entity in charge of investigating and setting the rules of the game for electoral campaigns in Colombia. The Attorney General of that country has also been investigating possible actions that are linked to this case.

President Petro announced that he gave power to the lawyer Mauricio Pava Lugo – who works as an auxiliary judge of the Supreme Court of Justice of Colombia – to represent him in the judicial processes that will be developed for the accusations against his campaign.

Juliana Gil emphasizes that up to now neither Nicholas Petro nor the Attorney General’s Office have said that the president had any knowledge of the illegal money that entered his presidential campaign. “It must be very clear that until there is a direct link between the president and these acts, we cannot speak of any direct consequence against him because the president is innocent up to now,” he points out.

What exists today are institutional actions to investigate the president and his campaign. The case that can advance the most, politically speaking, is that of the Investigation and Accusation Commission, which called the president for an investigation process. Even Nicolás Petro has already announced that he is going to testify before this commission, which is the one that can impeach the president for what he went through in his campaign.”, adds the journalist.

It must be taken into account that the irregular money would have entered the 2022 campaign, at a time when Gustavo Petro was already holding public office as a senator.

Regarding a possible dismissal or removal from office, Ariel Ávila recalls that in Colombia there is a very large presidential regime and there are no figures such as presidential dismissal or calls for early elections.

Nicolás Petro was a fundamental part of the campaign of his father, Gustavo Petro.

Nicolás Petro was a fundamental part of the campaign of his father, Gustavo Petro.

It is true that Congress can make a trial, but it has never happened, so the only thing that would fit for him to leave power is a resignation, but I don’t think it will happen. The president is not going to be investigated, he has jurisdiction for the position. It must be remembered that we have seen other serious cases of this type such as Ernesto Samper’s Process 8000 or the case of Álvaro Uribe’s parapolitics, which ended with his cousin being imprisoned. I think those are two bigger scandals than this“, considers.

A mainly political impact?

The scandal comes at a delicate moment for the government of Gustavo Petro. In addition to other scandals in his inner circle, the president is facing serious difficulties in advancing his ambitious reforms in Congress. The lack of agreements weakened his government coalition in recent months and forced him to restructure his cabinet.

The president saw an option to recover the ground lost in the regional elections next October. For this reason, for Juliana Gil, the latest revelations by Nicolás Petro give the case greater visibility before public opinion, in a context in which Colombia is in an electoral campaign. “The government’s bet was that its party, the Historical Pact, would have the majority of the seats in the mayoralties and governorships of the country, but now it is complicated”.

Avila argues that the immediate consequences are political. “In addition to the legal process, what is coming now is all the political debate, which is what I think is going to cost the president the most because Gustavo Petro got himself elected with a speech in which he said ‘we are not the same as the others ‘ and now this scandal happens. We are three months away from the local elections and his party is going to be severely punished”, he points out.

Remember, also, that Colombia has the first left-wing government in power, with majorities that are not stable in Congress. “This is going to be a pain for the government during the remaining three years in power. It will be a very big stain on the Petro government and, above all, it will hit his party very hard”.

Despite this, he reiterates that he does not believe that this means the departure of the president and his position. “Ernesto Samper and Álvaro Uribe did not fall for all their scandals and I don’t think this time will be any different. Since it is a left-wing government, something else could happen, but, in general, if we pay attention to history, we see that many people can go to jail and leave the government, except for the president.”, he concludes.

Source: Elcomercio

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