Colombian President Ivan Duque’s administration has bribed lawmakers to support the postponement of next year’s elections, senators say.
According to Independent Senator Rodrigo Lara, government officials offered funds for the country’s peace process to lawmakers who agreed to back last week’s failed “coup”.
The president of the National Federation of Municipalities, Gilberto Toro, has proposed to postpone the national elections to coincide with the local elections of 2023 last month.
The proposal was rejected until Senator Luis Fernando Velasco (Liberal Party) sounded the alarm on March 10, saying the government was bribing lawmakers to come up with a constitutional amendment.
Velasco said on Twitter: “I have been told that senior government officials are calling on them to grease their hands.”
I don’t want to believe that the President of the Republic is behind all this, so I want to specifically invite him or the Minister of the Interior to come out and stop this barbarism. You cannot go and rule out the sovereignty of the people, and with the vote of members of Congress extend certain periods without asking the citizens.
Senator Luis Fernando Velasco
Duque said he was not interested in serving more time earlier last week. Nevertheless, the elected representatives of the House have once again sounded the alarm after noting that the proposed amendment to the constitution was circulating in the lower house.
According to Lara, the government offered lawmakers supporting the “coup” slush funds from social investment budgets for so-called PDET regions.
These war-torn regions are said to benefit from increased investment under a 2016 peace deal between former President Juan Manuel Santos and the former guerrilla group FARC.
To collect these signatures, they offer slush funds. And of the worst kind. They take the resources of the PDET (in the poorest areas affected by violence) to offer them to the congressmen who sign this savage coup.
Senator Rodrigo Lara
The president told investors last year that he would “advance investments” in the PDET regions which were “expected between 2021 and 2030”.
Investors want to see democratic and institutional stability, and Colombia has it.
President Ivan Duque
The bill sparked outrage and 15 of the 22 representatives who originally approved the bill to vote on the constitutional amendment backed down.
Within 48 hours, however, the former Speaker of the House of Commons, Alejandro Chacon, presented a second proposal to amend the constitution.
This “transitional” constitutional amendment aimed to hold the first round of the presidential election on the same day as the congressional elections in March instead of separately in May.
This proposal would be “the dream” of “patronage” and other corrupt politicians, who would be able to corrupt the outcome of two elections by buying votes for one, according to political scientist Cesar Caballero.
The proposal would also make opposition primaries impossible, according to House Representative Katherine Miranda.
The second proposal was made public as electoral barons from notoriously corrupt “clans” announced that they would form a coalition to counter opposition attempts to win the election.