The president of Colombia, Iván Duque, managed to assume that position thanks to buying votes, denounced former congresswoman Aída Merlano.
According to a note released by Venezuelan News Agency (AVN), citing the Colombian media Semana, Merlano explained that the neo-Granada authorities paid about 10 thousand pesos (2,72 euro) to citizens to vote for Duque.
“Juio Gerlein and Char family bought votes to elect Duque (…) Char directed before all traditional politicians of the coast the purchase of votes so that they were elected presidents of the Republic (…) Everyone bought votes for choose Duque, “she said.
She explained the quota invested for presidential campaign of Duque exceeded 6 billion pesos .
Merlano said in the Colombian State there are contractors who are in charge of financing presidential and local campaigns for many years.
In 2018 Merlano was sentenced to 15 years in prison in Colombia for corruption and illegal possession of weapons, after having participated in the practice of buying votes.
The former congresswoman escaped from Colombian authorities in October 2019 while attending a medical appointment.
Merlano was captured on January 28 in Zulia state by the Special Actions Forces (Faes) and deprived of liberty in the country for usurpation of identity, use of false documents and association to commit crimes.
Merlano, currently detained in Venezuela, went on air and reiterated that right-wing President Ivan Duque and powerful politicians want her dead and have rejected her extradition as her testimonies and evidence reveal the network of corruption that exists in the country.
“They do not want me to be extradited, because if they wanted to, they would ask the legitimate president, Nicolas Maduro, and not Guaido. It is a political and diplomatic absurdity … to request extradition to Guaido,” the former lawmaker said.
The Gerlein and Char families are among the most powerful economic groups in Colombia. Merlano said that Julio Gerlein – brother of Roberto Gerlein, a former Senator and career politician from the Conservative party to which Merlano belonged to – “not only bought votes, but he had ID cards, mistreated the leaders, and intimidated the people to comply with the agreements.”
Julio Gerlein is being investigated in the process known as Operation ‘White House’, which was the place that served as the political headquarters for Merlano. In 2018, she was sentenced to 15 years in prison in Colombia for corruption and illegal possession of weapons, after having participated in the practice of electoral fraud.
The Colombian fugitive said that bags full of cash came to her political headquarters, “around 2.7 billion pesos arrived to finance my campaign and other candidacies in Cartagena and Santa Marta (…) The families (Gerlein and Char) also began buying signatures to support Vargas Lleras.”
Regarding Jaime Vargas Lleras, former Vice President (2014 – 2017) and career politician, Merlano said he is “involved in corruption in the bidding of the Barranquilla airport and receiving money to buy signatures for his 2018 presidential candidacy.”
As the Juan Manuel Santos administration got splashed with corruption allegations, as well, the former congresswoman stated that “the campaign for the re-election of Santos was funded by Odebrecht, he received 15,000 million from the Char-Gerlein houses for his re-election.”
Merlano mentioned that former Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez is an accomplice of Colombian corruption and knew about the contracts granted to the construction company Odebrecht, as well as the bribe” that Colombian congressmen received, “if Nestor Humberto falls he goes down with the whole political class,” she added.