Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Become part of our community

captcha 

Politics 9

Written by September 20 2022 0

Medellin’s city-owned EPM utility claimed in a September 19 filing with Colombia’s Superfinanciera oversight agency that an investigative report published September 18 in the local El Colombiano newspaper -- citing potentially corrupt Hidroituango contract manipulation – ought not to be considered as accurate.

The El Colombiano report reveals that EPM recently changed the US$5 billion Hidroituango hydroelectric-plant construction contract bidding in a way that presumably would solely favor China’s Yellow River construction company via partnership with a previously unqualified Colombian construction company.

This alleged scheme follows Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero’s years-long efforts to eliminate Hidroituango’s current construction contractors in favor of a Chinese company that has been cuddling-up to Quintero (see Medellin Herald September 3, 2020).

While Quintero failed in his lawsuit attempting to revoke the current Hidroituango contractors, the Chinese Communist Party’s official People’s Daily newspaper published a fawning report on Mayor Quintero in its August 19, 2020 edition, under the headline: “Daniel Quintero, Mayor of Medellín: ‘We Have Seen in China a Strong Investment Ally.’”

In the new El Colombiano report -- citing EPM’s recent contract “addendum 7” -- EPM “did the Chinese three favors: first, they reduced the required volume [of prior construction experience] to 28,350 cubic meters. Second, they included that the [new] company could accredit that experience in the construction of ‘framed structures.’ In other words, they no longer had to have experience in more complex structures such as bridges, but building houses or buildings was enough.

“And third, if the Colombian partner did not have a way to accredit that experience in two prior works, as required in the original specifications, now it can accredit it in four works. That is, the company can add 28,350 cubic meters [of experience] in several houses or buildings,” instead of 94,500 cubic meters of experience as originally required, according to the report.

The amended contract also lowered the experience requirement for excavations and construction of wells, tunnels, or caverns to 57 square meters, rather than 80 square meters as specified originally.

José Fernando Villegas, president of the Colombian Chamber of Infrastructure in Antioquia, is quoted in the El Colombiano report as asking why EPM cut the experience requirements to very specific numbers, rather than roundabout numbers. “When one puts an indicator that is not a round figure, it means that someone in particular wants to win [the contract]. It's what they call tailor's sheet,” Villegas was quoted as saying.

Likewise, “in the case of tunnels, the natural thing [in a contract amendment] would be to go down from 80 square meters to 55 or 60, but not 57,” he added.

In response to those charges, EPM issued the following statement to Superfinanciera:

“The fundamental purpose of the public request for bids [via the new contract amendments] is not to change the construction firm, but rather to guarantee the continuity of the civil works of generation units 5 to 8 of the Ituango Hydroelectric Project, under a unit-price payment methodology. in accordance with the development of the work and the current state of the risks, seeking optimization in costs and control of the execution schedule of the project in its final stage,” according to EPM.

“This process has had seven addenda (modifications), among which are extension of the date for receipt of bids, updating of the readjustment formula and provision of complementary documentation to interested parties, information meeting with bidders, inclusion of construction plans of the exterior works and modification to the requested experience.

“As a result of an interdisciplinary analysis, EPM identified the need to modify the experience requested to encourage the participation of Colombian companies and seek a greater plurality of bidders. EPM clarifies that one of the fundamental requirements stipulated in the contracting process is the presentation of offers from national and foreign legal entities, under associative forms, which may not be made up of more than three members and at least one of them must be Colombian. EPM insists that the reason why it modified the experience was due to serious analysis and not at the request of one of the participants in the process (Yellow River).

“The reopening of the process, that is, the opportunity for new interested parties to acquire the right to participate, is not an alien or foreign matter to the contracting of EPM, since precisely to guarantee the principles of equality and plurality of bidders, the specifications of conditions establish the obligation to carry out a new opening of the process when participation requirements are modified. In this particular case, as the experience was modified in some aspects, it was imperative to once again exhaust the stage of reopening the process.

“EPM reiterates that the selection process to build the final civil works of Hidroituango is carried out in a transparent manner,” the statement concludes.

Written by November 30 2021 0

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.”

Written by September 06 2021 0

Colombia’s Comptroller-General announced this afternoon (September 6) that it has decided to go ahead with court claims totaling COP$4.3 trillion (US$1.13 billion) against 26 officials, companies and several politicians for alleged “gross negligence” that supposedly resulted in a 2018 diversion-tunnel collapse at the US$5 billion Hidroituango hydroelectric dam in Antioquia.

Following provisional charges brought last December (see Medellin Herald 12/03/2020), the Comptroller has now decided to dismiss its initial charges against former Antioquia Governor and former Medellin Mayor Aníbal Gaviria, as well as former project official Jorge Mario Perez Gallon, according to the Comptroller’s announcement today.

The 2018 diversion-tunnel collapse has caused a 115% hike in the original budgeted cost for Hidroituango, according to the Comptroller.

The following 26 persons, companies and politicians -- divided into four groups – all now face Comptroller charges, which they are entitled to dispute:

1, Hidroituango board members Federico Jose Restrepo Posada; Juan Esteban Calle Restrepo; Alejandro Antonio Granda Zapata; Fabio Alonso Salazar Jaramillo (a former Medellin Mayor); Alvaro Julia Villegas Moreno; Sergio Betancur Palacio; Alvaro de Jesus Vasquez Osorio; Ana Cristina Moreno Palacios; Ivan Mauricio Perez Salazar; Jesus Arturo Aristizabal Guevara; Maria Eugenia Ramos Villa; Rafael Andres Nanclares Ospina; former Medellin Mayor and Antioquia Governor Sergio Fajardo Valderama; and former Antioquia Governor Luis Alfredo Ramos.

2. Hidroituango managers Luis Guillero Gomez Atehortua and John Alberto Maya Salazar;

3. EPM-Hidroituango Vice President Luis Javier Velez Duque;

4. Construction contractors and consultants including Integral S.A; Integral Ingenieria de Supervision SAS (which absorbed previously involved Solingral SA; Construcoes e Comercio Camargo Correa SA; Constructora Conconcreto SA; Coninsa Ramon H SA; Ferrovial Agroman Chile SA; Sainc Ingenieros Constructores SA, and Ingenieros Consultores Civiles y Electricos SA (Ingetec).

The Comptroller also seeks to recover COP$400 billion (US$105 million) in insurance payments that would be advanced to EPM (Hidroituango’s over-all project overseer).

Hours after seeing the Comptroller’s announcement, EPM issued the following public statement:

“Faced with the failure of fiscal responsibility [alleged by the Comptroller], EPM with its technical, legal and financial team will study the consequences that this could have on the development of Hidroituango,” according to EPM.

“The persons [and companies] subject to fiscal responsibility will have five business days to file for remedies for reconsideration and appeal against this first-instance ruling, after being duly notified. This means that the effects of the ruling can be suspended until the appeals are resolved by the Comptroller General.

“EPM will be attentive to all subsequent actions carried out by the fiscal control entity, since if this first-instance decision is upheld, then EPM must have an adequate and planned structure that allows the continuity, without delay, of the execution of the Hidroituango project.”

Written by December 01 2016 0

With the opposition Centro Democratico party boycotting the votes, Colombia’s House of Representatives and Senate voted unanimously November 29 and November 30 to approve a revised “peace” deal with the narco-terrorist Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC).

Written by November 13 2016 0

Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos announced November 12 that his government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) have signed a revised “peace” agreement following five weeks of talks that took place in the wake of a national plebiscite.

About Medellin Herald

Medellin Herald is a locally produced, English-language news and advisory service uniquely focused upon a more-mature audience of visitors, investors, conference and trade-show attendees, property buyers, expats, retirees, volunteers and nature lovers.

U.S. native Roberto Peckham, who founded Medellin Herald in 2015, has been residing in metro Medellin since 2005 and has traveled regularly and extensively throughout Colombia since 1981.

Medellin Herald welcomes your editorial contributions, comments and story-idea suggestions. Send us a message using the "contact" section.

Contact US

logo def
Medellin Herald: Find news, information, reviews and opinion on business, events, conferences, congresses, education, real estate, investing, retiring and more.
  • COL (4) 386 06 27
  • USA (1) 305 517 76 35
  •  www.medellinherald.com 
  •  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
  • Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia

Medellín Photo Galery

Medellin, contrasting colors and styles by Gabriel Buitrago

MPGMPGMPGMPGMPGMPGMPGMPGMPGMPGMPGnav