El Espectador, June 30, 2019
By Yohir Akerman
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
Donmatías and San Roque are two small municipalities located in the heart of Antioquia, one hour from the city of Medellín. Between the two of them they have almost 40,000 inhabitants. They both share a common denominator, and it’s a long history full of corruption and embezzlement by previous administrations.
Let’s look at the parties.
Since the year 2,000 both municipalities have been governed by a coalition of the Democratic Center and the Conservative Party, using the same model of contracting that became evident and was discovered when the government changed in 2016.
On November 1 of 2016 the Attorney General’s Technical Investigation Group (CTI in Spanish) executed a warrant for the arrest of the former mayor of the municipality of San Roque, Fredy Oswaldo Rodríguez Henao. He was being investigated for the crimes of malfeasance in office, material falsification of a public document, embezzlement of public funds, and violation of legal requirements for ineligibility and conflict of interest. A few little things.
Additionally, on August 28 of 2017 the Attorney General’s Office charged the former Democratic Center Mayor Javier Darío López Restrepo and four more officials with entering into illegal contracts, falsification of a public document, and conspiracy to commit crimes against public administration.
Among the multiple public works contracts that this Uribist mayor executed without budget support or without any work being done, we find several that are iconic, such as construction of educational institutions, sewage treatment plants, roads, or transportation terminals. All of them white elephants that are half constructed and are now nuclei of violence and small scale drug trafficking.
No Democratic Security in Donmatías.
To carry out these irregular contracting processes, the Mayor’s Office expedited the certificate of budget support manually, without the backup of the accounting software, with budget headings and with entries that had nothing to do with resources, and were signed willy-nilly by the ex-mayor or another of the officials who were implicated.
The projects were awarded with this phony document and as soon as there were any funds available, they would make a budget search to support every payment.
There were more than 20 projects contracted in this manner, for a value close to 20 million dollars, of which nearly $8,000 was paid. The rest were not in force in 2016, not as payments due, nor as budget reserves, and not as future obligations.
For example, looking at the contract for the Marianito school, this was awarded for $4,065,000, of which $1,219,000 was paid up front as a down payment. But, oh surprise, the project did not have the approval of the government of Antioquia for construction. Neither did it have the required environmental permits, nor the minimum measures demanded by the laws having to do with education, and the Ministry of Education for the sector declared it not technically feasible.
This was a process that ended up affecting the whole community, but it was enriching just a few. López Restrepo has a firm hand, but it’s for making the cash disappear. And everything the opposite of a big heart.
Well now, in this case, in spite of all the evidence, the investigation doesn’t seem to be moving ahead. The former Mayor López Restrepo has Sr. Jhon Jairo Berrío López, the current Democratic Center representative in the Chamber, for his political boss. He was the mayor of Donmatías from 2001 to 2003 and for a second time from 2008 to 2011.
Sr. Berrío López also has a case pending in the Attorney General’s Office because during his term he refused to appoint a manager for the Francisco Eladio Barrera Hospital and he used that position to appoint people who were close to him and his political interests to acting positions. That case isn’t moving in the Attorney General’s Office either, and there comes the interesting part.
Both López Restrepo and Berrío López belong to the clan of the Valencia Cossio. So much so that when Santiago Valencia was campaigning for the Senate, his formal model for the Chamber of Representatives in Antioquia was Sr. John Jairo Berrío.
Santiago Valencia is the son of Fabio Valencia Cossio and the nephew of Guillermo Léon Valencia Cossio, who was the Director of the Attorney General’s Medellín Office for five years. He was in charge of administering the Attorney General’s Antioquia and Medellín Offices and he still controls a lot of people doing investigations.
It’s important to remember that Guillermo León Valencia Cossio now is serving prison time for two cases. The first one is because he influenced the removal of John Freddy Manco Torres, alias el Indio, from the organization chart of Don Mario’s gang, and in time he turned over secret documents to that drug trafficker in exchange for substantial cash payments and an ATV.
The other sentence is for having used his office to obstruct justice and to try to block an investigation of the boss of the Norte del Valle cartel, Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadía, alias Chupeta. A gem.
But let’s go back to the Municipality of San Roque, since now you know that the Democratic Center candidate for mayor is Sr. Luis Alejandro Villegas Cano, at present a member of the Municipality Council for the same party.
Villegas Cano is the son of Luis Alberto Villegas Uribe, alias Tubo, who was identified by authorities as one of the creators of paramilitary groups.
In 1998 the Attorney General’s Technical Investigation Group (CTI) determined that Luis Alberto and his brother Juan Guillermo Villegas Uribe were coordinating, from Lácteos El Paisa, the procurement of weapons and illegal munitions and the provision of economic resources, beginning with charging quotas from different people in northeast Antioquia. The money and the weapons were to sustain a paramilitary cell of the Metro Bloc that had originated as the Convivir El Cóndor, of which they were legal representatives.
That Juan Guillermo, the uncle of the Democratic Center candidate for mayor of San Roque, is the same one who is being investigated, along with Uribe Vélez and the Gallón Henao brothers, for the creation of paramilitary structures from the ranch known as Guacharacas, which belongs to the ex-president’s family. And he is also the one who appears in the famous phone call where Senator Uribe Vélez says “the sons of bitches are listening to us”, referring to the Supreme Court, because of legal interceptions that the judicial entity authorized in order to investigate the manipulation, purchase and pressure on witnesses by the ex-President.
Some long term conspiracies of corruption, crimes, and investigations have enveloped the Democratic Center candidates and politicians in the small municipalities of San Roque and Donmatías in Antioquia, where the problems are anything but small.