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  • Former lawmaker Aida Merlano directly accused Duque was aware that the Gerlain and Char families bought votes in the Atlantic department to get him elected as president in 2017. 

    Former lawmaker Aida Merlano directly accused Duque was aware that the Gerlain and Char families bought votes in the Atlantic department to get him elected as president in 2017.  | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 February 2020

This comes as Merlano exposed a major scheme of electoral fraud and corruption last week during a live interview with Colombian magazine Semana.

The magistrate of the National Electoral Council (CNE) of Colombia Luis Guillermo Perez requested Saturday for the Deputy Secretary of the institution Lena Hoyos to initiate an inquiry over electoral fraud allegations made against President Ivan Duque. 

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Colombia: Former Deputy Denounces President Duque, Lawmakers Involved in Major Electoral Fraud

The judge formally presented the document on Feb. 18, where he alludes that the statements made by former congresswoman Aida Merlano from Caracas should be investigated, as “there was a series of aspects that involve the powers attributed to the CNE.”

This comes as Merlano exposed a major scheme of electoral fraud and corruption last week during a live interview with Colombian magazine Semana. The CNE’s official reiterated that these are serious accusations that should not be taken lightly. 

Merlano, currently detained in Venezuela, went on air and reiterated that right-wing President Ivan Duque and powerful politicians want her dead and have rejected her extradition as her testimonies and evidence reveal the network of corruption that exists in the country.

During the interview, the former lawmaker directly accused Duque was aware that the Gerlain and Char families bought votes in the Atlantic department to get him elected as president in 2017. 

“Julio Gerlein and the Char family bought votes to elect Duque (...) The Chars directed all the traditional politicians of the coast to purchase votes for the election of presidents of the Republic (...) Everyone bought votes to choose Duque," the former congresswoman said, adding that each vote was worth around 10,000 pesos.

Merlano recalled that Julio Gerlein told her that he had invested vast amounts in Duque's campaign in the face of his presidential aspirations. She said he invested 6,000 million pesos "and the Chars held a fundraising" between contractors. 

The Gerlein and Char families are among the most powerful economic groups in Colombia. Merlano said that Julio Gerlein - brother of Roberto Gerlein, a former Senator and career politician from the Conservative party to which Merlano belonged to - “not only bought votes, but he had ID cards, mistreated the leaders, and intimidated the people to comply with the agreements.”

Merlano also mentioned that former Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez is an accomplice of Colombian corruption and knew about the contracts granted to the construction company Odebrecht, as well as the bribe" that Colombian congressmen received, "if Nestor Humberto falls he goes down with the whole political class," she added.

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