Rodolfo Hernández: Where Did The Fortune of The 'Colombian Donald Trump' Come From?

The self-recognized independent candidate for the Presidency of Colombia, Rodolfo Hernández, is also one of the richest men in that country. At LatinAmerican Post we tell his story and how he got his fortune .

Rodolfo Hernandez

Photo: TW-ingrodolfohdez

LatinAmerican Post | Christopher Ramírez Hernández

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Leer en español: Rodolfo Hernández: ¿de dónde salió la fortuna del 'Donald Trump colombiano'?

Rodolfo Hernández is one of the names that has been heard the most in recent days in Colombia, bearing in mind that he is the man who will compete for the Presidency of the country against the left-wing candidate, Gustavo Petro, in the second round that will take place on next June 19.

The Engineer (as he is popularly known), with an anti-corruption proposal, came in second place in the first round with almost 6 million votes, against the 8.5 million obtained by Petro, who was the winner on election day of May 29.

However, in the next clash, Hernández is expected to receive massive support from the more than 5 million people who supported Uribismo's candidate, Federico Gutiérrez, which could give him victory over Petrismo with more than 11 million votes. Of course, up until now, all the possible realities are just that: assumptions about what may or may not happen in the Colombian electoral framework; but the truth is that the Engineer has great potential in order to be the successor of the current president, Iván Duque Márquez.

YOU CAN ALSO READ: Gallery: Gustavo Petro and Rodolfo Hernández go to the second round of the elections in Colombia

The poor man's builder?

The Santanderean, this is how Rodolfo has also been branded by locals and strangers, taking into account that of the long list of candidates who ran for the presidential campaign, he is the oldest (77 years old), although this has not been an impediment to achieve wide acceptance, both among young people and among older adults.

Born into a humble family in the municipality of Piedecuesta, Santander (in northeastern Colombia), this man managed to get out of poverty thanks to his studies in Civil Engineering at the National University of that country, and the creation of his company HG Builder. This company, founded in 1972, has led him to obtain one of the largest fortunes in all of Colombia.

As reported by Hernández in an interview he had with Semana Magazine in December 2021, his capital amounts to about 100 million dollars, most of which have been obtained not only with the construction services offered by his company, but also by financing aid offered to a large part of Santander.

In the 1990s, Colombia experienced a housing crisis known as the Constant Purchasing Power Unit (UPAC), which was nothing more than the result of the extremely high costs of the initial installments on housing, as well as the impossibility for many people to pay their mortage. This, of course, led to a long list of Colombians, who after trying very hard, were harassed by the very high-interest rates of the banks until they finally lost their homes.

In fact, the financial crisis that generated this situation was such that it ended up also evolving into a social crisis due to the suicide of more than 2,000 people who given the impossibility of complying with their credit obligations ended up taking their own lives.

Now, what for some is fatal, for others is an immense opportunity, and Rodolfo Hernández was one of those entrepreneurs who benefited from this real estate crisis in Colombia. The former mayor of Bucaramanga at that time was nothing more than a man who made a living designing and selling houses to poor people in Santander, and it was precisely under this idea that he came up with another that would give him even more money: the plan 100.

This initiative was nothing more than the possibility for people to manage the purchase of their house directly with Hernández's HG company. In this way, without the intermediation of the banks, the new owners would pay off their home debt in just 100 installments, or what is the same, in 6 years and 10 months.

“In 1994 I swore not to go back to the bank. Not because it was bad or good, but because I decided to make a plan to cancel everything and work with my own capital”, he added in his conversation with Semana; and it seems that the plan was not bad at all, because in addition to capitalizing with his own money, he also created his own bank for "the poor", as he defines it.

Hernandez's expenses

However, just as money comes in, it must also go out. Hernández is currently the owner of other companies, affiliated with the HG construction company, in cities such as Pasto, Peñol, Bogotá, Medellín, Barranquilla, Villavicencio, Tolú and Bucaramanga; In addition to several real estate and other food, beverage and tobacco companies, as well as HG, in the name of his wife Socorro Oliveros, who manages this incredible national emporium.

This, of course, represents in addition to profits, very high expenses, especially in terms of taxes. As he himself confessed, his responsibilities with the treasury are almost 20 million pesos a day, from Sunday to Sunday. In other words, in one year, Hernández pays Colombia more than 7 billion pesos (almost 2 million dollars).

In addition, the presidential campaign has resulted in another large expense: according to the Cuentas Claras portal, in which all candidates must report in detail the income, expenses and other figures of money within their campaign, Rodolfo Hernández has spent more than 3 billion pesos (almost 800 thousand dollars), most of which, according to his own explanation, have come out of his own pocket.

Even with this, he said a few days ago on his Twitter account that if he reaches the Presidency of Colombia, he will donate his entire salary (more than 265 thousand dollars in four years), to young people with limited resources in the country.

In this way, the 'Colombian Trump', as some international media call him, hopes to go from being just rich to powerful. Will he achieve this?