The Colombian Prosecutor, Martha Mancera, the right-hand person of Attorney General Francisco Barbosa, responded to President Petro’s allegations linking her to drug trafficking activities after statements from two agents within the prosecution body accused Mancera. The reality is that the Deputy Prosecutor has been implicated at least twice in protecting officials from the Prosecutor’s Office allegedly involved in drug trafficking, arms dealing, and corruption.
It’s worth noting the ongoing political confrontation between the country’s president, Gustavo Petro, and Francisco Barbosa, the country’s Attorney General. This recent controversy and allegations have allowed the Head of State to deepen the controversy surrounding Barbosa’s right-hand person.
Accusations against Martha Mancera
Last week, renowned Colombian journalist Daniel Coronell revealed that two agents from the Technical Investigation Corps of the Prosecutor’s Office (CTI) accused Francisco Javier Martínez Ardila, director of the CTI in the city of Buenaventura, and Deputy Prosecutor General Martha Mancera of allegedly being involved in crimes related to drug trafficking. President Colombian President Gustavo Petro, engaged in a long-standing political feud with the Colombian Attorney General’s Office, swiftly took advantage of the news to write:
“If officials from the prosecution report that the institution in Buenaventura has been used to send cocaine shipments abroad, a thorough investigation must be carried out. Salt cannot become corrupt. I request the Attorney General to determine if these actions occurred and if the investigation was hidden,” tweeted President Petro about Martha Mancera.
Struggle between the Presidency and the Prosecutor’s Office
This direct accusation against the Prosecutor’s Office’s number two has allowed President Petro to star in a new chapter in the long history of disagreements he maintains with the prosecution. This team was appointed during the presidency of Ivan Duque in 2020.
Based on another article by journalist Daniel Coronell, the Colombian president wrote a harsh comment, citing institutional corruption and linking it to illegal activities. “This is how institutions are taken over, becoming cocaine exporters and illegal arms importers. They use the same state to enhance crime.”
For the Head of State, “the reason for insecurity lies in the criminal’s ability to infiltrate the state.”
For her part, Deputy Prosecutor Mancera didn’t delay in responding. According to her, what President Petro said is part of the smear campaign that, she claims, the president is waging against the judiciary. In statements to the magazine Semana, an ultraconservative outlet known for its strong criticisms of the government, Mancera defended herself against the strong allegations against her.
“He’s calling me a mobster. Why don’t we review the facts in Colombia and see if what is being done from the Casa de Nariño is protecting drug traffickers in Colombia? That is something they should be saying, not only from Casa de Nariño but also from the Government itself. I am not a mobster,” stated the Deputy Prosecutor, who later clarified that she wasn’t referring to specific cases involving the president but rather to attempts at dialogue with armed groups such as the ELN or the Clan del Golfo.
Mancera aspires to temporarily succeed Barbosa
Amidst this struggle and exchange of accusations, it’s important to note that Martha Mancera aspires, even if temporarily, to succeed her boss, Francisco Barbosa, at the helm of the Colombian Prosecutor General’s Office.
Barbosa’s term ends next February, and during the time until his successor is appointed, Mancera could legally hold the position temporarily, thus extending an important state power that the government views as hostile and close to the conservative opposition.
“They are saying that I am favoring [criminals], but there are already two convicted. I have no responsibility (…). This has been a plot for many months, with issues I have nothing to do with. Two years later, they say I knew about it. They can’t tarnish me with this issue when there is due process,” stated Mancera.
On November 20, the Deputy Prosecutor accused President Gustavo Petro of trying to “bury her” and being behind an alleged plan against her, aiming to force her out of her position at the Prosecutor’s Office.