The case of Nicolas Petro, the son of the President of Colombia, regarding the irregular financing of his father’s campaign, is becoming more complicated. In statements to the justice system, the President’s eldest son implicates Veronica Alcocer, the President’s wife and the country’s First Lady, in the alleged irregular campaign financing.
According to these statements, the Barranquilla businessman Christian Daes allegedly sent a significant amount of money to the presidential campaign through Gustavo Petro’s wife, Veronica Alcocer. Adriana Mejia and Agmeth Escaf were reportedly identified in these confessions to the justice system as the individuals who collected the money.
The case grows more complex
The controversy surrounding corruption accusations for illicit enrichment against Nicolas Petro is deepening day by day. With the recent change in strategy, in which the accused breaks the cooperation agreement previously reached with the Prosecutor’s Office, shifting arguments, and denials, the depth of the case becomes evident.
Initially, Nicolas Petro admitted to receiving money from drug trafficking. Much of that income was allegedly diverted to his father’s presidential campaign, while the accused kept some for himself. The President’s son had consistently denied that his father and campaign manager, Ricardo Roa, were aware of the irregular funds entering the campaign.
However, today, the accused has expanded his statement and implicated his father’s current wife as the person who allegedly acted as a liaison between part of the illegal funds and the presidential campaign.
Christian Daes, in the shadow of the new power
The implication of Christian Daes by Nicolas Petro came almost at the end of his interrogation when the accusing entity asked him if he had omitted mentioning any person who “had financial involvement in the campaign.” At that moment, the President’s son stated that “Mr. Christian Daes, who met personally with Gustavo Petro in the city of Barranquilla.”
Daes’s contributions are said to have been made in September 2021 when the campaign officially did not exist yet. However, the pre-candidates already had financial backers for the congressional elections. This is where the name of journalist Maria Antonia Pardo comes up. Pardo is the ex-wife of Pacto Historico Congressman Agmeth Escaf. Pardo was not well-liked by the President’s inner circle as she differed in communication style from the future candidacy.
In this regard, Nicolas Petro has reaffirmed his statements from a few months ago, where he claimed that the campaign’s manager, Ricardo Roa, had no knowledge of the entry of this money. Roa was appointed campaign manager sometime later. “Starting in March, there is a campaign manager (…) the chosen manager was Ricardo Roa, who had no knowledge of the entry of these resources,” Nicolas Petro explained to the Prosecutor’s Office.
According to the President’s son, when a businessman makes such contributions, it’s because they expect to receive benefits once the financially supported candidacy assumes power. “Today, I don’t know if this gentleman has been rewarded, if he has been granted any kind of benefit by the national government,” Nicolás Petro concluded in his statement.
The role of Maria Antonia Pardo
Maria Antonia Pardo is the person who allegedly introduced businessman Daes to Gustavo Petro’s campaign. This acknowledgment comes from Xavier Vendrell, a Spanish advisor known for his close relationship with the current President.
“In any case, we need to determine who is financing the campaign team, if (Christian) Daes is still financing that… Supposedly, there’s a gentleman, Daes, who is funding a communications team. If that’s the case, we need to ensure that Daes does it through someone else (other than Pardo),” Vendrell reportedly said, according to Nicolás Petro’s statements to the Prosecutor’s Office.
Veronica Alcocer gets involved in the campaign
The departure of journalist Pardo from the campaign team triggered a crisis, both with her and businessman Daes. According to Nicolas Petro, the person who resolved the crisis and restored relations with the businessman was the President’s wife, Veronica Alcocer. As a result, Daes continued to provide “significant amounts” of money to the campaign, now through Alcocer.
“There was a debate at the Universidad del Norte (in Barranquilla). That day, Ms. Adriana Mejia, currently a government official, was traveling to Bogota. That day she met with Mr. Christian Daes, Agmeth Escaf, and transported some resources for Ms. Veronica Alcocer. According to Agmeth Escaf, Christian Daes financed the campaign to make sure Verónica Alcocer won,” the President’s son stated before the justice system.
Alcocer’s role in the campaign was motivated, according to Nicolas Petro, by the fact that, according to polls, women did not have excessive confidence in his father as a candidate. “It was important for a female voice to have a significant role within the national campaign. They decided it would be Verónica Alcocer and that she would not be alongside the candidate but would exercise her own leadership, shining independently within the campaign, as it happened,” Nicolas Petro concluded.