After the arrest and subsequent confession of Nicolas Petro, the son of the Colombian president, criticisms and accusations of alleged electoral corruption in the current president’s campaign are echoing strongly in Colombia.
In addition to the alleged entry of funds from drug trafficking into the campaign, statements from the president’s brother seem to suggest the entry of a million votes in certain regions of the country, thanks to the influence of some drug lords from prisons in the country.
Shadow of Corruption
Nicolás Petro reportedly agreed to cooperate with the prosecutor’s office in exchange for penitentiary benefits; his sensational statements were the first signs of alleged corruption in the 2022 presidential campaign that concluded with Gustavo Petro’s victory.
In these statements, the president’s eldest son admitted to having received money from two drug traffickers and, after keeping a portion for himself, sending the rest to his father’s presidential campaign. However, Nicolás also stated that neither his father nor the then campaign manager, who is now the manager of Ecopetrol, were aware of this.
Recently, a new case of alleged corruption has further clouded a campaign that justice and the media are scrutinizing closely.
La Picota Pact
The “La Picota Pact” is the name given to the alleged plan to secure votes in certain regions of the country through shady maneuvers carried out from the well-known prison in the capital. During the campaign, a video surfaced showing Juan Fernando Petro, brother of the then-candidate Gustavo Petro, entering La Picota prison in Bogotá to meet with known crime bosses.
According to a Caracol TV program in Colombia, Juan Fernando Petro allegedly acknowledged and nearly confessed that thanks to these contacts and maneuvers from prisons, his brother’s candidacy benefited from over 1 million votes in Norte de Santander, Urabá Antioqueño, and Magdalena Medio.
The interview conducted by the private television channel was criticized for manipulation by Juan Fernando Petro himself. After the program and the controversy it generated, the interviewee accused the channel of manipulating and taking his words out of context. Juan Fernando Petro would then state that there was “no negotiation” with imprisoned crime bosses.
The Controversial Numbers
In the three controversial regions, according to the Registrar’s Office, which oversees electoral processes, Gustavo Petro received nearly 300,000 votes in the first round, while his opponent, Rodolfo Hernandez, received exactly twice that number.
The results in the runoff were proportionally similar. Petro garnered 100,000 more votes, bringing the total to 420,000 votes, compared to Hernández’s 850,000. Voter turnout in these regions, which include 44 municipalities, was slightly above 50% of eligible voters.
The President’s Response
President Petro responded to the accusations by stating that it is not true that he secured 1 million votes in those regions, as has been claimed. The president also mentioned that these are areas where he has consistently received poor electoral results.
“I always lose in Norte de Santander, and by a long shot, I always lose in Magdalena Medio. I only win in Barrancabermeja and Puerto Wilches, and I always win in Urabá Antioqueño. I have never received a total of one million votes in all those regions; I don’t even reach half, and my opponents literally double me,” the president wrote on his social media accounts, in response to the contested election results.
Does the President have Asperger’s?
In a controversial interview, the president’s brother Juan Fernando Petro claimed that the president has Asperger’s syndrome. Without providing further information, the president’s brother addressed speculations about the president’s health that have been circulating in the media in recent weeks. Some claimed that Gustavo Petro suffers from depression, while others categorized Asperger’s as a “mental disorder with impactful symptoms.”
However, the same interviewee later denied that either his brother or himself had any clinical diagnosis of Asperger’s. The president also denied having such a diagnosis.
The Colombian Association of Psychology Faculties (ASCOFAPSI) reprimanded the media for “the news related to the possible Asperger’s condition associated with the First President has been imprecise, superficial, treated frivolously, and even disrespectful not only to the person but also to psychology professionals.”