The COVID-19 pandemic came to Colombia and the damage will be horrible. But another pandemic has been corroding the foundations of that nation for decades: drug production and trafficking.
By Wafica Ibrahim – March 29, 2020
The world’s major media outlets, especially US ones, have echoed this reality, but with propaganda that tells only part of the story.
No one questions, not even the Colombian authorities, the role of Colombia as one of the main suppliers of narcotics to North America. However, the discourse imposed by the great centers of global power omits that the US authorities do little to reduce demand and subdue major mafia cartels, both in Mexico and in the United States itself, that control the market and money laundering in that country.
A lucrative business that injects billions of dollars a year into the American financial system.
This single cause would be enough to explain why the issue of illicit crops and drug production in Colombia has had no solution. Drug trafficking in that country continues to impact Colombian daily life despite the agreements signed between the governments: Colombian and American, and even though the DEA, with its infinite resources, feels at home in Colombia.
But this is not the only cause. Colombian socio-political conditions, marked by monumental inequality and an unjust concentration of land ownership, with feudal overtones; together with a patronage and undemocratic political system by nature, mediated by 6 decades of armed conflict between guerrillas and the State, and a neoliberal economy, they have been the best breeding ground to make Colombia the largest producer of cocaine in the region.
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Does the cycle restart?
Despite the more than 210 thousand hectares of coca planted in Colombia and the increase in cocaine production last year, Colombian political elites, with the support of the press and media corporations, had managed to leave behind the idea of drug trafficking. embedded in the political life of the country. However, in February and March of this year, two news events confirmed that drug trafficking continues to be served à la carte in the country.
The first of these was the discovery in February of three laboratories for the production of cocaine on a farm of the current Colombian ambassador to Uruguay, Fernando Sanclemente. In addition to the laboratory, more than 6,000 kilograms of chemicals were found for the processing of cocaine, 9.4 kilograms of this product and coca paste to keep production.
Paradoxically, the ambassador, who asked for a license – did not resign – has not been arrested and, without any media pressure, must be preparing his defense.
No wonder the media silence or the confidence of the Colombian government and justice in Sanclemente’s innocence. The now ambassador is an old friend of former President Álvaro Uribe and a member of the conservative political class. In his resume it appears that he was director of Civil Aeronautics, a position that Uribe also held in the time of Pablo Escobar.
As director of Civil Aeronautics, Sanclemente ruled that the death of Pedro Moreno, who was Uribe’s government secretary in his time as Governor of Antioquia, was an accident and not a homicide, while an official of this entity testified assuring that the wrecked helicopter was tampered with. Needless to say, this lady (the official) was murdered after offering such disturbing testimony.
At the beginning of March, Colombian journalists with evident connections in important Colombian institutions revealed the existence of several audios that related to Guillermo Hernández, alias “Ñeñe”, with vote-buying operations for the presidential campaign of the current Colombian president, Iván Duque.
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The audios were part of the results of an investigation that was being carried out against Ñeñe Hernández for homicide and links to drug trafficking. The investigative report was presented to the Prosecutor’s Office in June 2018, just a few weeks after the presidential elections in which Iván Duque was the winner and at the possession ceremony, Ñeñe Hernández was present in a privileged place.
Coincidentally, in May 2019, Ñeñe Hernández was assassinated in Brazil in an attempted robbery, the same month that Attorney General Néstor Humberto Martínez resigned, who has assured that he had no knowledge of the investigation that was being carried out against Ñeñe.
However, a month after Ñeñe’s death, the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office and Police began a process of seizing assets of Ñeñe worth almost $ 300 million between cars, properties, companies and even the land that would be used to expand Cartagena airport. Such an operation could not be unknown to former Attorney General Néstor Humberto Martínez.
Returning to the leaked audios, it is evident that the Ñeñe was in a clear vote buying operation to favor Iván Duque. They record conversations with a lady who has been identified as María Claudia Daza, who until a few days before was one of the main advisers to today’s senator Álvaro Uribe. Mrs. Daza resigned from her position as adviser to the senator and, according to Colombian media, traveled to the United States. What was she afraid of?
What has followed is a hecatomb of accusations and denials from different sectors. Evidence of the close and intimate relations of the drug dealer Ñeñe Hernández with the current president, Senator Uribe and senior military officers continue to emerge from some news outlets and from the ranks of the opposition to the current government. Despite the coronavirus, the opposition is insisting on the need for these links to be investigated and the obvious entry of dirty money into Iván Duque’s presidential campaign.
For their part, President Duque, Senator Uribe and the rest of those involved, denied any link with Ñeñe, minimizing the photographs and audios of parties, banquets and other activities in which Ñeñe was not just another guest.
Colombian justice has before it a great dilemma, nothing new in the political life of the country.
The current Attorney General is a close friend of the President and many doubt his impartiality in this case. On the other hand, the Supreme Court of Justice is also being criticized for its delayed with the investigations; while the National Electoral Council, called to investigate electoral irregularities, is a politicized entity.
Perhaps in the Impeachment Committee of the House of Representatives is where more progress will be made, but neither will they reach what many want: the resignation or removal of Duque and the political death of Uribe. It will not happen, because in addition to knowing the mishaps and secrets of Colombian politics, Uribe has never vacilated in deciding the fate of his foes.
The journalists who uncovered this scandal have already denounced being victimized by death threats, harassment and persecution. Things of the Colombian narco-democracy.
Featured image: Drug trafficking continues to impact Colombian daily life
Translated by JRE/EF
Wafica Ibrahim is an advisor for Almajadeen Spanish and an expert on Latin America.
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