Revelations by El Espectador newspaper on Sunday which stated that Colombian presidential advisor J.J. Rendon had negotiated with drug traffickers in 2011 to shut down their operations has caused political uproar in the country, local media reported.
Just weeks from Colombia’s presidential elections a number of the country’s senators and presidential candidates have called for an investigation into the allegations that Rendon, advisor to President Juan Manuel Santos, was given $12 million for submitting a proposal to end 90% the country’s lucrative drug trade, Caracol radio reported.
Politicians from all sides, including former president and senator-elect Alvaro Uribe, Conservative Party presidential candidate Marta Lucia Ramirez, and Democratic Centre presidential candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga have called on Santos to conduct an investigation and explain the allegations, RCN Radio reported.
Senator Roy Barreras, from the president’s own U Party, has also called for an investigation into the allegations.
According to El Espectador, the former drug lord, Javier Antonio Calle, alias “Comba,” has told prosecutors that several of the country’s drug traffickers made a deal in 2011 with Rendon in order to submit the proposal to the government.
The proposal outlined a route to shutting down 90% of Colombia’s drug trade, with the surrender of top capos and their henchmen. Among those who participated in the proposal were some of Colombia’s top drug lords, such as Luis Enrique Calle, alias “Comba,” alias “Cuchillo,” Diego Rastrojo, and Loco Barrera.
The 2011 document called “Agenda for solving the problem of drug trafficking and the violence it generates,” allegedly shows that Rendon officiated as a general strategist for the proposal, which was facilitated by former ELN guerrillas Francisco Galan and Jorge Castañeda. Other sources consulted by El Espectador confirmed that Rendon was actively involved in creating the plan.
Rendon subsequently told El Espectador that there was no exchange of money, that he “acted as a simple messenger”. He insists that he only recently learned the details of the proposal, adding that he will take legal action in response to the allegations.
6. Ratifico contundentemente no haber recibido dinero, prebenda o beneficio alguno y reto a quienes así lo afirman, a probar lo contrario.
— J.J.RENDON (@JJRENDON) Mayo 5, 2014
In the dossier held by El Espectador, Rendon is described as the “general strategist” charged with “damage control, crisis management and facilitator of the negotiations.”
When asked by the journalist Daniel Coronell of Semana Magazine if money had been involved, Rendon replied that, “if there was money involved it must have been in the hands of those who put him in touch with representatives of the narcos: the then senior presidential advisor for political affairs German Chica.”
In the run up to Colombia’s May 25 presidential elections, the political storm triggered by these events promises not to go away any time soon.
Former President Alvaro Uribe on his Twitter wrote, “President Santos, what is this conspiracy, where is the money of your counselors?”.
Conservative party candidate Marta Lucia Ramirez said on Twitter, “The closeness of the relationships of Santos’ friends with “Comba” and the narcos smells badly. Who’s got the $12 million?”.
Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, the candidate for the Democratic Center asked if Rendon was empowered to advance these negotiations, why these approaches were hidden at the time, and what Santos did with such “valuable information.”He also asked whether Chica and Rendon would maintain their proximity to the Palace and President after the serious revelations of the media, El Espectador reported.