The Colombian president, Iván Duque, and his mentor, former president Álvaro Uribe, are at the center of a political scandal after revealing talks by the farmer José Guillermo Hernández, murdered in Brazil, which involves them in the alleged purchase of votes in the electoral campaign of 2018.
The journalist Gonzalo Guillén said on the website “La Nueva Prensa” that an investigation by the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office initiated to clarify a murder in Barranquilla (north) attributed to Hernández, captured conversations in which he says “to be the axis of an operation to purchase votes on the North Coast for the current president, Iván Duque, by order of former president and senator Álvaro Uribe. “
In the second round of the elections for president, in June 2018, Duke, of the Democratic Center party founded by former President Uribe, defeated left-wing candidate Gustavo Petro, leader of the Decent movement.
Hernández, known as “Ñeñe” and husband of former Colombian beauty María Mónica Urbina, was killed in May 2019 in an assault on his Rolex watch in Uberaba, in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, after leaving a fair livestock in which he had participated.
According to the Colombian Prosecutor, “Ñeñe” Hernández was one of the frontmen of the criminal organization led by Marcos Figueroa, aka “Marquitos Figueroa”.
“Marquitos” was captured in 2014 in Manaus and two years later extradited to Colombia, where the Prosecutor’s Office considers him the head of a criminal organization that operated in the departments of Cesar and La Guajira.
After what Guillen revealed, Semana magazine said he had access to more than 25,000 records of recordings intercepted by Hernández in which he talks about his supposed closeness to Colombian politics.
In an audio revealed by that means Hernández is heard to ensure that anyone “pays homage” and adds that even “where I go, the attorney general of the Nation, whatever, pleads me. I go to the prosecutor and I get to the big one; (where) Vargas Lleras, I get to where President Uribe, “he says.
In another audio, in which he does not say the name of the person he refers to, Hernández says he has a close relationship with “the president.” And he emphasizes: “The president is my brother, not that he knows me, he is my brother.”
THE PRESIDENT DEFENDS
On Friday, President Duque kept up with the versions of his alleged friendship and closeness with “Ñeñe” Hernández and assured that he only coincided with him in some social events in which several photographs were taken and chatted about the friendship they had His parents.
“I went to Valledupar for the first time in 1995, I was accompanied by my father (Iván Duque Escobar), it was the only visit in 20 years and on that trip I met his father (Arístides Hernández), mother and brother. José Hernández no I met him on that occasion. I met him in the last four years, perhaps, in a few public meetings, surely some social, but I had no brotherhood with him, “said the head of state.
He added that “since I have no straw, I approach any candle. I have been and will always be a fighter against drug trafficking. I ask the authorities that if they are doing investigations against Mr. Hernández, to do them quickly.”
When clarifying about the money and the control that was done during his presidential campaign, Duque said that all the management was channeled by his campaign manager.
“Among the measures we took was that of a single national account, there were no different accounts; all contributions were received only by the campaign manager. We always submitted any contribution to more than 17 controls and no cash contributions were received. For the second round we do not receive contributions from any individual, “he said.
URIBE REJECTS SIGNALS
Faced with the scandal over the alleged purchase of votes in favor of the Duke campaign, the former president and current Senator Uribe rejected those accusations and defended his political career and transparency in the exercise of Duque’s power.
“In my long political career it has never crossed my mind to buy votes, I have been rigorous since my first election as councilman in 1974.”
He also said that “I did not know the Lord, I was not a friend of him, a photo appears with me, as there are photos of thousands of Colombians who still dare to take a photo with me in public events.”
And he stressed that his friends from the North Coast of Colombia always told him about him “as a successful farmer, never as a drug dealer. The accusation of drug trafficking begins to occur after Mr. Hernández’s death.”
He added that “if there were unscrupulous people abusing the name of people, the President of the Republic, my name, to ask for money and commit crimes, crimes, during the electoral process, let this be known by the country.”
He also defended the head of state who said that “the political exercise of President Duque has been transparent.”
Uribe has not referred to the complaint filed last week by the journalist Guillen before the Supreme Court of Justice for alleged crimes of electoral corruption and alleged illegal financing of election campaigns.