Antioquia Ex-Governor, Presidential Candidate Sergio Fajardo Accuses Controller-General of Political Manipulation, Corruption, Duplicity in Hidroituango Case
Centrist politician Sergio Fajardo – a former Antioquia Governor, former Medellin Mayor and now candidate for Colombia’s Presidency – this morning (November 30) publicly accused Colombia Controller-General Carlos Felipe Córdoba of shocking political manipulation and corruption in the Hidroituango hydroelectric-project damages case.
“Until today I have kept my defense in reserve, because I considered that it was the best way to protect [Colombia’s political] institutions,” Fajardo stated in his Bogota press conference.
However, the Controller-General, certain powerful Colombian politicians and former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria together “are playing a nefarious game” by using the Hidroituango case to block Fajardo’s presidential candidacy, according to Fajardo.
“That is corruption and dishonesty,” he charged.
“In one way or another, the [Inter-American Commission on Human Rights] judges now have to review the manifest illegalities and inconsistencies” in the Hidroituango case, he said, citing his new complaint being brought before the Commission.
“Despite all my attempts to maintain this [Colombia presidential candidacy] process in the legal field, it has been the Controller himself who has taken it upon himself to bring it to the political arena.
“A few months ago, the journalist María Jimena Duzán confirmed to me that since 2016 there has been a coordinated, planned attack. She told me, ‘they want to screw Fajardo,’ and this is associated with the Toga Cartel [a popularized name for certain corrupt Colombian justices].
“Carlos Felipe Córdoba is not a Controller, he is a political record. He was the right hand of [former Colombia Vice-President and former Presidential candidate] Germán Vargas Lleras in the last elections and has the support of his fellow countryman from Pereira, [former Colombia President and Liberal Party Leader] César Gaviria Trujillo.
“His obedience was already put to the test in 2017 when, as an auditor, he presented false and illegal reports, without having any competence, pretending to show that in my [former Antioquia] governorship I had paid favors to donors of my campaign with contracts. Every [charge] fell apart and Mr. Córdoba never responded for his slander.
“He is the same politician who was a militant of the Uribista youth, Vargas Lleras’s private secretary, and who appointed the prosecutor’s wife as delegate comptroller.
“Apart from these political backdrops, the [Hidroituango damages-claims] process has been plagued with unusual irregularities that I am highlighting today before public opinion.
“First, Juan Carlos Calderón España, under the guise of a ‘citizen overseer,’ allowed the Controller General to initiate an exceptional control in the Hidroituango case. The supposed citizen and overseer concerned about the public interest is a personal friend of Carlos Felipe Córdoba and a month before requesting exceptional control over Hidroituango, he declared in the Council of State in favor of his appointment as Controller.
“And, oh surprise, in the same month he released his book, “The Overseer, Social Control, Media and Democracy,” with a foreword by guess who: the same Controller he defended in the Council of State. Added to this are family contacts in the Controller’s Office, and other evidence that was erased but that we rescued. All these are pieces of the puzzle that they have been putting together for years to eliminate us legally and politically.
“Second, the Controller’s Office changed the initial accusation against me. After an alleged and arduous investigation in which he invested time and resources, I was accused of only one conduct: not exercising control [over Hidroituango]. I provided clear and compelling evidence. This is where the case should have gone. However, the surprise was greater when all that investigation did not matter, they quickly changed the document and I ended up being charged with several different behaviors.
“They reproach my government for having agreed with the construction of a third [Hidroituango diversion] tunnel. But the Controller’s Office lies when it says that the EPM advisory board contraindicated it. The Controller’s Office refused to read the documents in full, refused to listen to the advisory board.
“For those lies, the person who convicted me, Juliana Velasco Gregory, is being investigated by the Judicial Discipline Commission. Other issues such as the lack of fines [imposed upon] EPM or the impossible guarantees of [construction project] acceleration or change of designs by the Board of Directors are tricks in the motivation of a conviction against me.
“Third, Córdoba appointed those who should decide [culpability] in the second instance. Here another key name appears in this whole mess: Cristian Castro, Anticorruption Delegate Controller.
“Castro was appointed [prosecution coordinator], but after a press article exposing his political ties, he was removed from the case and even went on vacation. What impartiality can a person have who is César Gaviria’s minion, was secretary general of the Liberal Party in Pereira, is the political godson of Carlos Humberto Isaza, who was the Director of the Public Function of Cesar Gaviria and is today a contractor of the Comptroller’s Office?
“And as if that were not enough, just a couple of days ago, a day after the second instance ruling was known, Castro shared on his personal Instagram account a meme attacking me directly using Yanfri, the boy who became famous in [social-media] networks for his walk.
“Textually the meme says: ‘Hey Yanfri, why are you walking like this all beautiful, hombe? The Controller’s Office confirms that Fajardo is responsible for the detriment of COP$4.3 trillion in HidroItuango.’
“As I have repeated on several occasions, the [political opponents] no longer even hide. They do not care about the [Hidroituango] project, nor [admit] that there is insurance [covering the Hidroituango damages], nor the risk for the Ituango community [living downstream of the Hidroituango dam].
“They needed to blame me, they fear a change of power to a government in which hiring [political hacks] is not a booty.
“Colombia has to change. The supervision, control and inspection has to shine for everyone. Today the credibility of these institutions is on the floor. Justly.
“The capacity to investigate is low, the [investigation process] times are not reasonable, the impartiality is in doubt. The investigations are selective, and they become torture for millions of Colombians — and that must change.
“I reiterate, there are many good people in the Prosecutor’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, the Controller’s Office, the control and surveillance entities, but the scaffolding today favors power and money. And that has to change.
“I believe in an independent justice where the force of reason prevails, and not the force of power and arbitrariness. I believe in sober justice. I reject these characters who debase public service.
“It is infamous to be singled out by a prosecutor who believes that he could have predicted the volatility of the dollar [in a separate, earlier case brought against Fajardo over an alleged exchange-rate error in calculating the cost of a public contract] , by a Controller who has spent years trying to convict me in any way.
“I am going to give this fight because I have the peace of mind that 22 years of public life give me, by acting correctly. I know very well who I face in this unequal struggle, but there is no alternative: that’s how we started and that’s how we continue.
“I would like to close by saying what I have repeated for many years: truth and decency always come out ahead, even if they sometimes take time.”