The family troubles around Gustavo Petro grow day by day. This time it was his brother who issued a statement in a passive aggressive tone that can only be read as a criticism of the president himself. Juan Fernando Petro, investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office for allegedly offering prison benefits to prisoners in exchange for money, points out that, as no other president has ever done in the history of Colombia, Petro has decided to “place his people to suffer public ridicule, which without a doubt crosses the border of the fraternal”.
The president asked the Prosecutor’s Office on Friday to thoroughly investigate Juan Fernando and Nicolás, his eldest son, and the institution began to do so the same day. Nicolás reacted prudently, defended himself against those who accuse him of taking advantage of his father’s position to collect money from businessmen and made himself available to justice. Juan Fernando, on the other hand, has reacted angrily, reproaching his brother for paying attention to rumors and insulting attacks and exposing it to public opinion.
The brother was controversial even during the campaign, when he was already seen visiting prisons. The media reported that he was speaking with high-profile prisoners to whom a hypothetical Petro government could offer prison benefits in exchange for confessions and delivery of money. That were the first steps of today’s political total peace. Juan Fernando had to go out and deny everything, and even then his brother disavowed him and said that he was not speaking on his behalf.
The case has gone further and now splashes fully on the Presidency. Juan Fernando maintains that his closest family is grieved, but that above all else is the nation and that he shares what the president has said, even though in the first instance he complained that he has been exposed.
“He decides to place his own to suffer this public ridicule, which undoubtedly crosses the border of what is strictly fraternal, to place us as a target of insulting attacks until the truth finally emerges”: Juan Fernando Petro. pic.twitter.com/oQrTULWxd8
— Catalina Suárez B. (@CatalinaSuarezB) March 6, 2023
In the following paragraphs, somewhat confused and tangled, Juan Fernando defends his figure as a man of peace, exonerating himself for what he is accused of. “I have carried out a silent work throughout remote territories, in the midst of communities, which has never involved offering benefits to convicts in exchange for handouts,” he writes. Gustavo Petro’s younger brother was part of an inter-church human rights commission that made rounds of prisons throughout the country. He attributes the intentions of blaming him for something he has not done to affect his brother, the president, to malicious conspiracies. Finally, he assures that his estate is modest and that he can be investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office without any problem.
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The cases of Juan Fernando and Nicolás have become entangled and seem the same, but in reality they are different. It is true that both are being investigated by the Attorney General’s Office, but for very different matters. The first is questioned about his visit to prisons and for leading, always supposedly, a cartel of lawyers who charge commissions to prisoners in exchange for favors. Those convicts would take refuge in the president’s major project known as total peace, which consists of trying to deactivate the guerrillas and all the armed and criminal groups in the country through negotiation. Petro has already said that the only one who is empowered to discuss with the leaders of the mafias is Danilo Rueda, High Commissioner for Peace. Juan Fernando, he insists, has neither voice nor vote.
Nicolás is trapped, on the other hand, by some statements to the press by his wife until recently, Day Vásquez. The woman maintains that the eldest of the six children the president has collected large amounts of money from businessmen who believed they were putting money into his father’s campaign. With these sums, he bought a luxurious house in Barranquilla that he hid even from his mother, Katia Burgos, Gustavo Petro’s youthful love, as can be deduced from the WhatsApp chats that have been made public.
The matter, which is becoming a soap opera, has fully affected Petro, who forcefully has distanced himself from the controversy: both his son and his brother must face justice and prove their innocence. The president has dropped them and has exposed them to public opinion and that is where they have to defend themselves.
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