The administration of Colombia’s president Ivan Duque bribed lawmakers to support postponing next year’s elections, according to senators.
According to independent Senator Rodrigo Lara, government officials offered funds meant for the country’s peace process to lawmakers who agreed to support last week’s failed “coup.”
The president of the National Federation of Municipalities, Gilberto Toro, proposed to postpone the national elections so they would coincide with local elections in 2023 last month.
The proposal was dismissed until Senator Luis Fernando Velasco (Liberal Party) raised the alarm on March 10, claiming the government would be bribing lawmakers into proposing a constitutional amendment.
Velasco said on Twitter that “I am told that high-level government officials are calling them to grease palms.”
I do not want to believe that the President of the Republic is behind this, so I want to specifically invite him or the Interior Minister to come out and stop this barbarity. You cannot go and discard the sovereignty of the people, and with the vote of congressmen 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, house representatives raised the alarm again after noticing that the proposal to amend the constitution was circulating in the lower chamber.
According to Lara, the government offered lawmakers who would support the “coup” slush funds taken from social investment budgets meant for so-called PDET regions.
To collect these signatures they are offering slush funds. And the worst kind. They are taking the resources of the PDET (from 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 the investments” in PDET regions that were “expected between the year 2021 and 2030.”
Investors want to see democratic and institutional stability, and Colombia has it.
President Ivan Duque
The bill triggered a wave of indignation and 15 of the 22 representatives who initially signed off on the bill to vote on the constitutional amendment backed away.
Within 48 hours, however, former House president Alejandro Chacon presented a second proposal to amend the constitution.
This “transitory” constitutional amendment sought 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 the “clientelists” and other corrupt politicians, who would be able to corrupt the outcome of two elections buying votes for one, according to political scientist Cesar Caballero.
The proposal would additionally make opposition primaries impossible, according to House Representative Katherine Miranda.
The second proposal was made public around the time that electoral barons of notoriously corrupt “clans” announced they would form a coalition to counter opposition attempts to win the elections.