The reactions to the confession of Nicolas Petro, the son of the Colombian president, in the ongoing trial against him have not been slow in coming. This is the most complicated moment that the president has faced in the year of his mandate, as the echo of suspicion of corruption in the electoral campaign that brought him to the presidency resonates more strongly.
The former Colombian ambassador to Caracas, Armando Benedetti, already spoke a few months ago about funds of dubious origin that allegedly ended up in the campaign of the current president of Colombia. However, Nicolas Petro’s recent confessions, in which he openly admits to receiving illicit money and acknowledges that at least a portion of it went to his father’s political campaign, put the Colombian leader in a difficult situation
Gustavo Petro, the first to react
The President of Colombia already expressed his opinion on the day of his son’s arrest, on the morning of Saturday, July 29. He then wrote on his social media a comment that caused a stir: “I wish my son luck and strength. May these events shape his character and allow him to reflect on his own mistakes,” tweeted the Head of State. Petro has always denied the entry of illicit money into his campaign, or at least his knowledge of it.
The strategy of cooperation with the justice system pursued by his son has brought new information. Initially, the Prosecutor’s Office only accused Nicolas Petro of having misappropriated the money, but there was no evidence that it ended up in the presidential campaign. In the hearing held this week, the president’s son stated that some of it had indeed ended up there.
“Someone wrote today that my son had said that I knew that illegal funds had entered my campaign. That affirmation has various ways of being analyzed and since it was not said by a judge, I will analyze what was said. It has a subliminal instinct in what was said, and obviously if that were true, this president would have to step down today. So, I have to tell that person, stop spreading lies. My son did not say that, and he did not say it for a basic reason: I have told my children never to engage in criminal activities,” Gustavo Petro affirmed in reference to information about his alleged awareness of the case.
The opposition calls for a march to demand his resignation
The opposition’s reaction to the President has been immediate. A march has been convened for Wednesday, August 16, in which his resignation will be demanded, or that he be subject to trial. “The Majority’s march returns. Everyone to the streets to defend our country,” wrote Miguel Uribe, a senator from the Democratic Center. Uribe has even called for the political indictment of the President. In this sense, he has requested that Petro be charged before the Accusation Commission of the Chamber.
On the other hand, Paloma Valencia, also a senator from the Democratic Center, tweeted some harsh words, casting doubt on the legitimacy of the 2022 electoral process. “The statements of the President’s son confirm suspicions: a network of accusations compromises the legitimacy of the presidential election!” Valencia wrote on her Twitter account.
The third reaction was that of Maria Fernanda Cabal, also a member of the Senate for the Democratic Center. In statements to the media, Cabal has said that “Petro is a completely illegitimate president and he has to go.”
The senator brought up the controversial statements of former Ambassador Benedetti, who is being investigated for the messages that were exchanged between him and Laura Sarabia, the former press chief of the president. In these messages, Benedetti spoke of several million pesos that would have entered the presidential campaign. For Senator Cabal, these facts would now take on greater relevance with what has been revealed based on Nicolas Petro’s confessions.
The toughest moment
It seems clear that the storm has only just begun. In addition to the political indictment against the President, the opposition is demanding the resignation or dismissal of Ricardo Roa, the current president of Ecopetrol and the former finance chief of Gustavo Petro’s presidential campaign. In the coming weeks, the statements and actions of both sides will test the stability of a presidency that undoubtedly is experiencing its most turbulent moments.